About Bovine TB
Testing & movements
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Pre- and post-movement testing can reduce the risk of introducing disease into your herd.
Pre-movement TB testing reduces the risk of bovine TB spreading to new herds through movements of cattle. Pre-movement testing is a statutory requirement for certain Officially TB Free (OTF) herds.
Currently, the only type of test that can be used for pre movement TB testing is the single intradermal comparative cervical tuberculin (SICCT) skin test. It is the farmer’s responsibility to book and pay for a pre-movement test with their private vet, although farmers can move stock that have tested clear at a statutory i.e. annual test.
Clear pre-movement test results are valid for 60 days from the date of injection (day one of the test).
Pre-movement testing is a valuable part of the biosecurity plan to reduce the risk of introducing bovine TB but the test is not 100% sensitive. Isolation and post movement testing should also be considered depending on the risk of the particular movement.
Infected cattle do not usually show clinical signs of TB and will look healthy. It is therefore prudent to carry out post-movement testing to detect infected cattle prior to introducing them to the herd.
From 6th April 2016, post-movement testing will be compulsory in the Low Risk Area (LRA) of England for cattle moved from other areas of England and Wales.
> Click here for more details about post-movement testing in the LRA.
Post-movement skin testing should not be carried out within 60 days of a pre-movement test as it has been found that following the intradermal injection of tuberculin in infected cattle, skin reactivity to a second injection is depressed for some time. It is therefore recommended that this test is carried out 60 to 120 days after the animals arrive on the holding to avoid this desensitisation effect that could lead to infected animals being missed. If possible animals should be isolated until the test results are known.
Please note that tests for TB are not perfect and a negative result does not guarantee that the animal will be free from TB. This is because:
It is worthwhile carrying out post-movement testing even if the animals have passed a pre-movement test as it gives another opportunity to pick up any animals missed in the pre-movement test and detect any animals that were developing the infection when the pre-movement test was carried out or were infected with M bovis in the period following the test, for example during transit.
The limitations of the TB test create a particular risk in relation to bull hire. As bulls may visit several herds each year they pose a high risk of spreading TB and it would be preferable not to use hire bulls at all.