8 March 2002

Ask TB questions before you buy in

WHEN buying-in replacement cattle from areas with a high risk of TB consider a private TB test done by a vet, but a single test will only pick up cattle infected for 30-60 days.

Glos-based vet Chris Watson is catching up with TB testing in high risk areas, but says routine testing will resume locally within a month.

He suggests assessing the risk of buying-in diseased cattle. "Is the herd in a high risk area? When was the herd last TB tested and is the herd closed? Worried buyers can request a private test, which local vets can carry out with DEFRAs permission – the ministry will have access to the results," he says. The cost of a single test will vary depending on vet pricing policy.

But cattle incubating TB for a short time will not show up and the usual practice of retesting high-risk animals 60 days later is impractical in terms of isolating cattle on-farm, he believes. "For those deciding not to test, there is a safety net in place which means any animals taken from a herd, subsequently having a TB breakdown, can be traced."

Bringing in other diseases, such as infectious bovine rhinotracheitis, is more likely to cause herd break-downs than TB, adds Mr Watson. "Despite the hype surrounding TB, it is a relatively rare." &#42