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Bovine Tb- carrying out a test

Posted: 5th Oct 2020

BTB – carrying out a test

Derbyshire has been at the forefront of the battle against Bovine Tb for many years, now. Some herds have been affected quite dramatically, some not as much and some not at all.

Up until 2018, we underwent annual testing, with more tests if a breakdown occurred. Part of Derbyshire was classed as high risk (where wildlife was considered to be infected) and the eastern and northern edge was classed as ‘edge’ area (of lower risk and no endemic disease in wildlife).

To make it easier administratively (and also, you ‘couldn’t’ have high risk area next to low risk area) the decision was taken to class the whole county as ‘edge’!

However, the original HRA part of the county had to undergo twice yearly testing at least, with more scrutiny of cattle. This meant all cattle over six weeks had to undergo the skin test, your cattle movement history was looked at, your buying strategy was investigated, your biosecurity was inspected and also, that of your neighbours. It also included the use of Gamma interferon blood tests.

For us, having a relatively small cattle herd and as we do not milk, testing means a week of uncertainty.

The day before we set up the shed. This means working out which group will go where and in what order, putting extra barriers across feed fronts inorder to prevent young calves from jumping out(even if they’re not to be tested, it upsets their mums and potentially mixes up groups)- a good couple of hours (all extra barriers need to be removed when we have finished and redone for the reading day).

On the day of the test, we bring the cattle in and wait the arrival of the vet as well as a helping hand. This alone upsets the cattle, as they know somethings up when there are different people about and their routine is broken.

The test is paid for by government, but extra help is paid for by farmers and it takes us 3-4 hours to put each animal through the cattle crate, lock its neck, shave two patches, measure the thickness of its skin, jab it with avian and bovine tuberculin and then take every one back to where they came from. This is repeated again three days later, except instead of jabbing, this time any lumps are measured as a reaction to the jabs. If the bovine lump is bigger it is classed as a reactor or positive. Not a perfect method, but the only one available.

Blood testing is done by taking a sample from under the tail, a timely operation As you can imagine, not the most pleasurable experience for the cattle and don’t they let you know it! steamy noses

Posted by: Angela
Categories: Bovine TB

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