TB Free England

Bovine TB (bTB) devastates thousands of farming family businesses every year and tens of thousands of cattle are culled annually in England because of it. Find out more about bTB, its impact, and why we must use all available options to make England TB free.

 Cattle culled in England because of bovine TB since January 1 2008

Downloads: Risk-Based Trading in low risk areas

Farmers in areas deemed at low risk from bovine TB are being encouraged to make more informed choices when buying in cattle to reduce the chances of bringing the disease on to their farms.

2014 Risk Based Trading in low risk areas poster, A new leaflet and poster have been produced by Defra highlighting the benefits of this approach and are to be delivered to cattle markets in low risk areas. The move is part of the Risk Based Trading initiative which is designed to encourage more TB information to be made available when cattle are sold.

Farmers are being encouraged to ask three key questions of cattle sellers and to use the information they receive to help understand the risks buying in cattle could pose to their business.

Farmers are also advised to check how long an animal has been on a holding and ask about previous locations where it has been kept if the animal was not bred on the farm it is being sold from.

This latest initiative comes at a time when Defra is asking for farmers’ views on whether it should make it compulsory for this information to be given and displayed at sales so all buyers can easily see the potential risk of the animals they are buying.

A TB breakdown in a low risk area caused by bought-in cattle not only impacts on the business directly affected. Every farm within a three-kilometre radius of the affected herd is likely to be subjected to multiple herd tests under the radial testing regime.


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Buying cattle in? Here's what you should ask for as a minimum

Date of the animal's last pre-movement TB test
Cattle market, livestock sale, cows_275_183Not all animals require pre-movement tests, but those which do should have been tested in the 60 days before their sale with negative results.

Date of the seller's last routine herd test
Knowing this date may offer additional reassurance if the herd has tested negative for TB recently; or it may prompt you to consider carrying out additional testing. If the last test was some time ago, you may wish to isolate the animal and ask your vet to conduct a post-movement test for additional reassurance.

It is possible that individual animals within batch sales were not on the holding at the time of the herd test, so other information such as the pre-movement test date (which is specific to an individual animal) will provide additional reassurance. Both of these dates are recorded on the test certificate (also known as the TB52).

It is also useful to ask how long an animal has been on the holding from which it is being sold and, if not homebred, find out about its previous locations. If you do not have your forms to hand, your vet should hold records of your testing history.

Has the herd ever had a TB breakdown?
If the herd of origin has ever had a TB breakdown, you should ask for the date the herd achieved official TB Free (OTF) status.

After purchase - protect your farm and your neighbours

Nottinghamshire landscapeOnce you have purchased your new animals there are additional measures that you can take to further reduce the risk of introducing TB into your herd and being put under movement restrictions (even if those animals have recently passed a TB test).

A negative pre-movement test does not guarantee that the animal will be free from TB - approximately 1 in 4 infected cattle may be missed by the tuberculin skin test.

1. Separation
TB can be spread between cattle. Keeping new animals separate from the main herd until they have tested negative for TB will reduce the opportunity for the spread of TB. This period of separation should last at least 60 days from the day of arrival into your holding.

2. Post-movement testing
Before you introduce any new animal to the rest of your herd, you should arrange for it to be post-movement tested to ensure that it has not developed TB since its last test. This can be arranged with your private vet.

It is recommended that this test is carried out 60 to 120 days after the animals left their previous holding or the market (i.e. at the end of the separation period mentioned above). Post-movement testing is strongly recommended for any cattle moving from an annual TB testing area of GB to a four-yearly testing area, where the animals are not going to be slaughtered within 120 days.