Why is a licence required to move TB-restricted cattle?

To control the risk of spreading bovine TB through the movement of cattle with undisclosed infection, only limited and controlled movements onto and off TB restricted holdings are permitted.

When a holding has lost its Officially Tuberculosis Free (OTF) Status, any movements of live cattle onto or off the holding can only be permitted under licence issued by APHA.

How do I apply for a licence?

When a licence is required, you must complete an application form and return it to APHA as detailed on the form.

Please note that the TB licensing team require a minimum of 5 working days to process licence requests, and this can increase during busy periods. It is important to provide as much notice as possible when applying for a licence.

What is the process for issuing a licence?

In order to assess whether a licence request can be approved, APHA need to have sufficient information to carry out a risk assessment of the proposed movement.

APHA will assess the licence request and contact the applicant to confirm whether the licence can be approved or not. Occasionally it may be necessary for APHA to request further information from the applicant to inform the decision.

Can APHA refuse licence requests?

Yes. APHA will assess each licence application and carry out a risk assessment.  If the conclusion is that the disease risk is high, then the licence request will be refused.  APHA will contact the applicant to explain that the licence request has not been approved.

General rules for licensing movements of TB restricted cattle

Movement of cattle onto a TB restricted holding

TB restrictions prevent movements of cattle onto a TB restricted holding except under licence issued by APHA.

  • No movements of cattle onto a TB restricted holding are permitted prior to completion of the first short interval test (SIT). The reason for this is that in many cases, the true extent and severity of a new TB breakdown will not become apparent until completion of the first SIT. Therefore, the risk for any incoming cattle cannot be fully assessed until the results of this test are available to APHA
  • No movements of cattle onto a TB restricted holding are permitted when there are reactors present on farm
  • If TB testing is overdue then no movements of cattle onto a TB restricted holding are permitted
  • From 1st April 2017, movements of cattle from a TB restricted holding onto another TB restricted holding will generally only be considered where the destination herd is due to have at least two SITs at severe interpretation. For more information about this measure, read the article on the TB Hub

Movement of cattle off a TB restricted holding

TB restrictions prevent movements of cattle off a TB restricted holding except under licence issued by APHA.

  • No movements of cattle off a TB restricted holding are permitted when there are reactors on farm (except movements directly to slaughter)
  • No movements of cattle off a TB restricted holding are permitted prior to completion of the first SIT, except movements directly to slaughter. The reason for this is that in many cases, the true extent and severity of a new TB breakdown will not become apparent until completion of the first SIT. Therefore, the risk posed by cattle moving off cannot be fully assessed until the results of this test are available to APHA
  • If TB testing is overdue then no movements of cattle off a TB restricted holding are permitted (except movements directly to slaughter in England)
  • Movements of cattle directly to slaughter are permitted under a general or specific licence
  • Farmers can apply to APHA for a licence to move cattle off a TB restricted holding, however they can only move to certain destinations e.g. TB dedicated sale ‘Orange Market’, Approved Finishing Unit (AFU), TB Isolation Unit or another TB restricted farm
  • From 1st April 2017, movements of cattle from a TB restricted holding onto another TB restricted holding will generally only be considered where the destination herd is due to have at least two SITs at severe interpretation. For more information about this measure, read the article on the TB Hub

Cattle moving off a TB restricted holding must have passed a TB test within a certain time frame depending on the type of destination.

Options for movement of cattle off a TB restricted holding under licence are summarised below;

Destination TB testing requirement* Types of cattle
AFU (non-grazing vs. grazing) Clear test within 90 days of movement Calves (rearing AFUs) Stores and culls (finishing AFUs)
TB isolation unit (can only take cattle from a single source over a limited period of time) Clear test within 30 days of movement All types; particularly useful for groups of dairy calves
TB dedicated sale (orange market) Clear test within 90 days of movement All types
TB approved slaughter gatherings (red markets) Clear test within 90 days of movement All types
TB restricted holding Clear test within 30 days of movement All types
Direct to slaughter No test required Cattle must not be reactors, inconclusive reactors or direct contacts All types

If you are unsure of TB licensing requirements please contact APHA via the Defra Rural Services helpline on 03000 200 301.