TB testing might have big effect on stock movement

Up to 20,000 cattle a year could be affected by Scotland’s newly introduced measures to tackle bovine tuberculosis.

In the past fortnight, laws passed by the Scottish Parliament mean that all cattle over six weeks of age entering Scotland from high incidence areas in England and Wales must be tested for TB both before and after they are moved.

NFU Scotland says the new testing measures could affect the movement of between 10,000 and 20,000 cattle a year.

And although the union supports the testing regime, it has urged producers to be extremely vigilant in checking the origin and TB test status of any cattle bought from England and Wales. Otherwise, they could face possible herd restrictions and unnecessary testing costs.

Anyone buying cattle over six weeks of age directly from a high incidence area, or through a market, will now be responsible for ensuring that the pre and post-movement tests are carried out.

If it is discovered that the pre-movement test was not done before cattle moved to a farm in Scotland, then a whole-herd restriction will be imposed on the farm immediately, and will remain until the moved cattle test clear.

But cattle brought to Scotland from high incidence areas to a show will be exempt from pre-movement testing as long as they return straight to the farm of origin after the show.

Scotland’s incidence of TB remains low compared with England and Wales, with 23 cases last year. And, according to Scottish Executive figures, 42 of the last 50 outbreaks of bovine TB in Scotland have been traced back to cattle imported from high incidence areas of England and Wales.

“The vast majority of Scotland’s TB cases are traced to cattle being imported from TB hotspots,” said Nigel Miller, chairman of NFUS livestock committee. “These new rules bolster our defence and reduce the chances of TB becoming established in our cattle or wildlife,” he added.

Producers can contact their local animal health office with ear tag details to verify if any cattle they have bought, or are planning to buy, originate in a high incidence area.