The Animal Health and veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) have confirmed that they have changed the policy that allows for farms that have their Officially Tuberculosis Free status withdrawn (OTFW) to restock their herds.
All herds that have an OTFW breakdown will now have to wait until they have completed their first short interval test (SIT) after 60 days of the reactor animal leaving the farm or being suitably isolated. In order to regain Officially TB free status, it is necessary for herds with OTFW status to test clear at two consecutive short interval tests at no less than 60 day intervals.
Farms have their OTF status withdrawn only when a skin test reactor animal is found to have lesions typical of TB or if the disease is cultured at a laboratory. If an animal reacts to the skin test and is not found to have lesions at slaughter the herd will be classified as OTF suspended and therefore the previous policy still applies and farmers will be able to move cattle onto the holding dependant on a satisfactory risk assessment.
These changes occur following recommendations by the EU Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) following a recent audit of TB controls in England. It is felt that herds that have a disease confirmed (OTFW) pose a greater risk of disease transmission and therefore further assessment of the disease levels in the herd must be gained.
Previously - herds with a new breakdown, where their TB free status was withdrawn (OTFW) could continue to move cattle into isolated facilities on completion of a veterinary risk assessment by AHVLA.
Now - herds that have a new breakdown where their TB free status is withdrawn (OTFW), will have to wait until they complete their first short interval test, 60 days after any reactors have been removed before cattle can be moved on and following a vet risk assessment.
This new situation only applies to herds that have their TB free status withdrawn i.e. reacts to skin test and has visible lesions at at slaughter or is cultured in the laboratory. Where there are reactors that just react to the skin test TB free status will only be suspended and cattle will still be able to be brought in.
If you operate a beef unit where you regularly buy in cattle and are concerned about the potential impact of this change, you are advised to consider setting up epidemiological seperate units to minimise the impacts of a TB breakdown. If you would like further clarification on this issue, please give us a ring to speak to an advisor.