DEFRA and the devolved administrations have announced plans to cease routine two-yearly blood testing of beef animals for brucellosis from April this year.

In a letter to the Veterinary Record (March 24), signed by DEFRA chief veterinary officer Debby Reynolds, Charles Milne, chief vet for Scotland and Christianne Glossop, chief vet for Wales, the decision to cease blood testing was made on the basis “there is little justification for continuing the existing routine for beef herd surveillance”.

According to the letter the UK is no longer required to maintain this testing under EU rules.  The UK also considers the routine testing to add little to its ability to detect brucellosis outbreaks and that testing does not represent a cost-effective mechanism for demonstrating freedom for the disease or for detecting disease, says the letter.

However, other controls, such as abortion reporting and investigating and routine monthly bulk milk testing in dairy herds will be retained.

In its editorial the magazine criticises the decision on two fronts. 

First, that the poor notice given to the veterinary sector about the imminent change will be to the detriment of many large animal practices. 

Second, that in the Animal Health and Welfare Strategy the government outlined a vision for the future devised around a ‘partnership’ with private practices, the farming industry and itself.

“It stands to reason that if vets are to fulfil these roles [informing animal keepers of the latest research findings and promoting best practice] they need to be available and get on to farms, and that practices are there to provide these services required,” said the magazine.