Routine testing for Bovine Tuberculosis (bTB) is something that all cattle keepers have to live with, and, sadly, as the TB problem in the UK continues to escalate, testing needs to be carried out with increasing frequency. The testing is a legal requirement, and must be carried out within the time frame specified for your herd.

Whole herd tests are carried out at intervals of up to four years (depending on the perceived level of risk in your area), although, as the disease increases its range, more and more areas are being subjected to annual testing. Here in Wales we are required to test all cattle every year, and also to ‘pre-movement’ test any cattle that leave the holding (except those that are moving directly to slaughter). Elsewhere in the UK I believe that pre-movement testing is only required in areas that are subject to 12 or 24 month testing intervals, although I wouldn’t be surprised to find that pre-movement testing soon becomes compulsory everywhere.

The routine ‘whole herd’ tests are funded by the government, but it is down to the individual farmer or smallholder to pay for pre-movement tests. However, the whole herd test can also be used as a pre-movement test, provided that the cattle are moved within 60 days of the test being carried out.

A ‘failed’ test (i.e., where reactor animals are found) will result in the removal and slaughter of the affected beast(s), and restrictions being imposed on the movement of cattle on and off the holding until such time as the herd can be declared to be clear of the disease.

Step-by-step guide on Testing for bTB: see multi media photo gallery (above right)

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