Legislation to protect livestock in Scotland from bovine TB has come into force.
Under the rules, specified non-bovine animals – including alpaca, sheep and farmed deer – will now be subject to a regime of TB controls.
But the powers will only be used where a TB incident is disclosed, for example through a post-mortem examination or where animals have been traced from a known breakdown herd.
While there have been no confirmed Scottish outbreaks of TB in these specified non-bovine species since 1992, outbreaks have been frequently disclosed in these species in England and Wales.
Scottish rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead said the measures were designed to protect Scotland’s official TB-free status.
“Scotland has been officially TB-free since 2009 and we want to stay that way,” Mr Lochhead.
“The cattle industry is already strictly regulated for TB but those legal powers in Scotland did not specifically cover controls of non-bovine species, except deer, where TB is strongly suspected or confirmed.
“The new measures coming into force today will address that gap and ensure Scotland is fully prepared to deal with any TB outbreaks that might arise.
“The controls will also give us the powers to provide keepers of these non-bovine species with statutory compensation for animals slaughtered as a result of TB.”
The new measures will introduce the following regime of TB controls:
- Notification of disease in alpaca, llama, vicuna, guanaco, deer, goats, sheep and pigs, and in the carcasses of wild deer, is now required where they are affected or suspected of being affected with TB.
- Identification requirements for deer, alpaca, llama, vicuna, and guanacos. (Identification requirements for sheep, goats and pigs are already provided in existing identification and movement legislation.)
- A veterinary enquiry, skin or blood testing and sampling of affected or suspected animals to be carried out as necessary in order to establish whether disease is present.
- Compulsory slaughter of any TB reactors identified – a notice of intended slaughter will be served to the keeper of the animal under section 32 of the Animal Health Act 1981
- Where animals are compulsorily slaughtered, compensation will be paid to the keeper
- Owners who have their animals tested privately (pre- or post-movement testing) are required to report any positive or inconclusive results to the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) to ensure that the appropriate action can be taken to control any potential spread of disease.
- There is also a prohibition on vaccination or treatment of animals for TB, without written consent.