Lay bovine TB testers to start work in November

Lay bovine TB testers will be able to work in private veterinary practices in England from 2 November.

The announcement by the Animal and Plant Health Agency follows a successful trial earlier this year, looking to extend the use of approved tuberculin testers (ATTs), so that private veterinary businesses have the option of deploying them to carry out TB tests.

“The pilot was very successful, with overwhelmingly positive feedback from all parties, particularly farmers,” said A Defra spokesperson.

See also: UK bovine TB rules, penalties and incentives

“They were especially complimentary of ATTs’ cattle handling skills and professionalism, as well as their high-quality TB testing.”

Defra says employing ATTs will release farm vets to focus more on tasks requiring veterinary judgement or certification, providing a more flexible workforce.

In practice, for cattle farmers it will mean that instead of a vet turning up to TB test your stock, it could be an ATT instead.

Contingency potential

Veterinary practices will be able to increase their capacity to deliver increased TB testing anticipated as part of Defra’s bovine TB eradication strategy.

ATTs will also provide contingency for any potential drop in the number of vets TB testing in England, or diversion of vets in the event of a notifiable disease outbreak.

ATTs can’t carry out TB testing of non-bovine animals, as these tests must be completed by an OV.

They are not currently permitted to TB test cattle in Wales and Scotland, however skin tests completed by ATTs in England are recognised by Wales and Scotland (for example, for cross-border pre-movement testing purposes).