9 August 2002

What to expect if results are positive

MANY producers are in the dark when facing a positive TB test for the first time. One Wilts producer has been helping neighbours by advising on what they can expect.

Routine testing this year has identified a total of 59 reactors in the herd, says William Bailey. "Once identified, they were separated from the rest of the herd to minimise disease spread."

A cattle valuer and DEFRA vet inspect the animals and agree a figure for the level of compensation. Its then up to the abattoir to take the animals away for slaughter, he says.

But in Mr Baileys experience it can be a long time before animals are removed after valuation. "Cows were slaughtered about six weeks after being identified.

"Having reactors on-farm for six weeks is stressful, you know they are a potential source of infection. All you want is these animals to be taken away as soon as possible, instead of the hassle of managing a separate group of animals and milking them after the rest of the herd."

Once reactors have been identified, the herd is placed under standstill restrictions with all livestock tested every 60 days. The herd is declared TB-free when two consecutive clear results have been obtained.

"Its a lot of extra work having to bring all stock in and filling in paperwork with ear tag number, breed and age. Cows also become stressed on test days with milk yields dropping."

Mr Bailey also highlights the delay in receiving the official lesion testing result. "It wasnt until eight weeks after reactors were found by the routine skin test that we received the official result," he adds.

Booklets and fact sheets providing information and advice are available from DEFRA (020-7904 6064, fax 020-7904 6053, web-site www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/tb).