New post-movement TB testing rules come into force

New post-movement cattle testing rules designed to curb the spread of cattle-to-cattle TB in “low risk” areas have come into force.

From Wednesday 6 April, farmers will be required to test any cattle moved from a high risk or edge area into the low-risk area between 60 and 120 days of arrival.

No onward movement will be permitted until the test has been carried out with negative results.

See also: TB rules threaten viability of beef finishing, auctioneers warn

There are a few exceptions including cattle slaughtered within 120 days of arrival; cattle moved to a Licensed Finishing Unit (LFU) and cattle moved to a slaughter market within the low-risk area.

Other bovine TB measures also introduced on 6 April include free pre-sale TB tests for herd owners in low-risk areas and the option, under certain conditions, for farmers to carry out a private interferon gamma blood test as a diagnosis tool.

Defra – huge effort to eradicate TB

Defra said more than half of new bovine TB infections in the low-risk area, including counties such as Cheshire, Derbyshire and East Sussex, were linked to cattle purchased from higher-risk areas.

Farm minister George Eustice said the new measures were designed to protect against cattle-to-cattle transmission and bring low-risk areas of the country closer to achieving TB freedom.

The new rules were part of a “huge collective effort” to eradicate TB in this country, alongside other measures including improved biosecurity and badger control in areas where the disease is rife, he added.

NFU welcomes measures

The NFU has welcomed the new measures, saying they would help parts of the country, such as the North, to go TB-free.

Richard Findlay, regional chairman of the NFU livestock board in Yorkshire and the North East, said the new regime meant more work for farmers. But this was better than the “terrifying” prospect of TB taking hold in beef and dairy herds in the region.

“We currently have only a small number of cases across the region, each one is a result of a cattle movement,” he said.

However, the Livestock Auctioneers Association (LAA) has warned that the rules could damage the “fragile” beef industry.

LAA executive secretary Chris Dodds described the new rules as a “massive burden” for larger cattle finishers, especially those that grazed cattle at separate holding units.