(1 ) Contiguous Testing Rules
The FUW is reminding members to make sure that they understand the rules surrounding contiguous TB testing before moving cattle.
Herds that are contiguous to a TB breakdown herd are not under restriction. However, if they are contiguous they will need a whole herd contiguous test. Two basic scenarios then arise: (A) If the last negative herd tuberculin test has been more than four months ago or longer, immediate contiguous testing (CON) is required. (B) If the last negative herd tuberculin test had been carried out less than four months ago, the contiguous test date (the end of the testing window) should be six months from the start date of the last clear herd test.
Farmers wanting to move cattle under scenario A will have to pay for a pre‐movement test if they cannot wait for APHA to conduct the whole herd contiguous test before moving animals. If testing can wait until APHA conduct the contiguous test, then a clear contiguous test will suffice as a pre‐movement test, provided the movement takes place within 6 0 days from the test date.
Pre‐movement testing is not usually required in the Low TB Area. However, pre‐movement testing is required if the herd is due a contiguous test, a six month contiguous test, or a 12 month contiguous test. This requirement for pre‐movement testing comes into effect 1 4 days after the date of the letter informing the keeper of the contiguous testing requirement. Pre‐movement testing also applies in the Low TB Area in the post‐breakdown period, when a 6 M, or a 1 2 M test is due.
Moving cattle from contiguous premises without conducting testing will result in non‐compliance with Welsh TB testing regulation.
(3 ) NVL or ‘No Visible Lesion’ Cattle
Many cattle that respond positively to the Tuberculin skin test are classified as NVL (No Visible Lesions) at slaughter. The NVL diagnosis can be particularly distressing.
The NVL diagnosis means that no lesions typical of bovine TB have been found in the carcass. Usually this means that the infection is at an early stage and lesions therefore have not developed to a size which can be detected. Many lesions are no larger than the size of a pinhead and some studies suggest that approximately 6 0 per cent (3 in 5 ) of skin test reactors show no visible signs of TB at meat inspection in the slaughterhouse. This is because the skin test used in the UK can find TB long before cattle develop clinical signs.
In other words, NVL status does not mean that the animal was not infected with TB. Infections where lesions are found at slaughter are considered to be a higher risk to the herd.
(2 ) On‐farm slaughter
In2 0 1 8 ,around1 .6 percentofallcattleculledduetobovineTBintheUK(7 .9 percent of cattle culled in Wales) were culled on‐farm. The FUW recognises that this is an incredibly distressing situation for members and discussed this issue at a recent Welsh Government bovine TB meeting.
According to the Welsh Government, 2 6 0 of the animals slaughtered on farm were heavily in‐calf, 4 4 5 were medicated, 4 4 had no passport, 1 0 5 were slaughtered on farm due to welfare reasons, 3 3 were dirty and one on‐farm slaughter represented an issue with abattoir capacity.
A high volume of on‐farm culls were due to cattle being medicated. In order to reduce this number, and therefore the distress caused by witnessing on‐farm slaughter, cattle keepers may wish to save any non‐essential medication until the TB test results are known at day two of the TB test (TT2 ).
(4 ) Badger Found Dead
The FUW is reminding its membership to report dead badgers for post‐mortem. This should help us get a clearer picture of the disease in wildlife. Members wishing to report a dead badger should not handle the carcass but should instead telephone0808 1695110 and provide the location of the badger for pick‐up.