You may be aware that APHA have altered the TB testing regime in the ‘High Risk Area’ (the whole of the South West). The result is that all cattle herds will be required to pass a whole herd TB skin test every 6 months (a 6-month interval between testing window start dates).
It was not the news we were hoping for either! Hopefully it will allow new outbreaks to be detected more quickly and in the long run improve overall disease control.
There are just 2 exceptions to this rule:
• The herd has not had any TB reactors in the last 6 years
• The herd has not had any TB reactors for more than 1 year and is CHeCS accredited for TB
In these instances, APHA grant an exemption and the herd can remain on annual testing. APHA will write to tell you if you have an exemption in July and then every 6 months. You can update your exemption if you become CHeCS 1+ accredited between 2 tests. From 1st July 2021, 6 monthly testing will start following your next whole herd test (unless on short interval testing). Herds on 6-monthly testing will be unlikely to get contiguous or trace tests.
The following link has some useful FAQs:
Given that we cannot change the past we must all work on avoiding TB outbreaks in the future. The CHeCS accreditation route may suit a number of breeding farms especially where homebred replacements are retained. Unfortunately the use of common grazing prohibits membership.
Membership is through a health scheme provider e.g. Axiom Cattle Health Scheme, Premium Cattle Health Scheme, Biobest HiHealth and can be for TB only or added to other accreditation e.g. BVD/ Johnes. We will be willing to help you with the paperwork and ensure your health plan is compliant and renewed annually. More information here https://checs.co.uk/resources/faqs/
There is a new ‘Entry Level’ CHeCS accreditation that may be more practical for farmers that buy significant numbers of cattle. This scheme starts in August but importantly DOES NOT qualify you to a 6m testing exemption. From 1st August you will need to complete the entry level scheme and then upgrade to full TB membership rather than the more direct route that currently exists. The entry level scheme does however ensure that you have a practical and risk-based plan for reducing the chance of a TB breakdown and involves a vet visit to go through the plan. As a practice we will look to get most of our farm vets trained up to offer this new service.
This rule change will add significantly to our TB workload in 2022 when 6-month tests are added on top of annual tests. We ask for your patience and consideration when booking in your TB tests next year as we may be less able to accommodate specific dates or vets. We also appreciate that this will add extra work for a large number of farms and we will try our best to balance everyone’s needs so that we can all fulfil our obligations.
For any other questions please just ask.