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ARCHIVE: Bovine TB: November 2004 enhancements to bovine TB controls

As set out in the Government strategic framework for the sustainable control of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) in Great Britain, the Government will pursue effective cattle surveillance and control measures which will be delivered efficiently and provide good value for money.

In November 2004, Defra announced enhancements to its cattle controls to help improve the detection of bovine TB (bTB) and reduce the risk of the disease spreading to new areas.

These measures were introduced pending the development of the TB strategic framework, which was published in March 2005.

The measures, which are detailed in Defra booklet TB in Cattle – Changes to testing and controls (Autumn 2004) (PDF 285 KB), include:

  • The adoption of a zero tolerance policy for overdue bTB tests, resulting in immediate movement restrictions for overdue herds

  • An annual recalculation of local routine testing intervals (based on the local level of disease) to ensure bTB testing complies with European legislation

  • The spacing of bTB tests more evenly within testing intervals (in 2 to 4 yearly testing parishes)

  • The introduction of a more rigorous and systematic approach in England and Wales to identify and deal with potential new bTB hotspots

  • The introduction of new testing schedules for new and reformed herds.

The introduction of these measures helps Animal Health (formerly SVS) to improve the detection of bTB by:

  • Testing those areas where disease is well established more regularly and also monitoring areas without the disease less often

  • Providing herd owners with flexibility on when a test can be carried out

  • Allowing them to spend more time tackling the disease and less chasing late tests

  • Targeting potential areas of disease before it can spread.

A herd may also be tested more frequently if it is next to a confirmed bTB incident or is part of a potential hotspot area.

Zero tolerance

Prior to November 2004, cattle owners had three months from the test due date of their herd’s tuberculin test to have the test carried out before movement restrictions were applied. Since November 2004, cattle owners have been given a two or three month ‘testing window’ in which to arrange their test, prior to their due date. This testing window approach allows cattle owners greater flexibility in arranging the tests, and a vast majority of them arrange and complete testing on time. However, to help protect such herds from ‘buying in’ untested cattle from herds where bTB tests could be overdue, the Animal Health places movement restrictions on herds as soon as tests become overdue.

Page last modified: 16 April 2007