If a vet determines that they cannot be tested safely in accordance with social distancing, calves under 180 days old are temporarily exempt from bovine TB testing the government has announced. The new measures came into effect on May 4th 2020 and apply in England, Wales and Northen Ireland.
Calls for safer conditions for farmers and vets
This amendment comes following recommendations by the British Cattle Veterinary Association (BCVA) to the Animal Heath and Plant and Health Agency (APHA), to consider the health and safety of both vet and farmer during testing. However, they equally acknowledged the ‘far reaching, unintended consequences’ of stopping bTB testing of cattle altogether.
According to Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots MLA, the new measures “will facilitate more testing of older cattle, where herd tests can proceed safely, and will help to maintain the vital TB surveillance programme during the Covid-19 crisis. Herds with clear tests will retain or regain their Officially TB Free (OTF) status and can trade freely with the exception of untested calves aged between 42 and 180 days.”
The BVA has since welcomed the amendment, stating that it will help vets to maintain the food supply, “prioritise human safety and public health whilst allowing vets and farmers to continue vital animal health work during the Covid-19 restrictions."
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