When a herd containing an animal suspected of having TB is identified it is placed under movement restrictions and investigations are carried out to confirm or rule out the presence of TB. Until the outcome of these investigations are known:

  • There is no movement into or out of the herd unless licensed by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA). Cattle can leave the herd to move straight to slaughter or to slaughter via an Approved Finishing Unit.
  • No restocking is allowed until the cattle remaining have completed one or more TB test.
  • Any suspect animals must be isolated from other cattle within the herd.

This reduces the risk of TB spreading within and between cattle herds. When a herd has been placed under movement restrictions more testing takes place until the test results indicate that the disease is no longer present.

Statuses

Cattle herds in Wales have a TB status of either:

  • Officially TB Free (OTF)
  • Officially TB Free Suspended (OTFS)
  • Officially TB Free Withdrawn (OTFW).

Officially TB Free

Herds with a clear test history are described as OTF. These herds are free to trade cattle as long as they meet the testing requirements and are demonstrated to be free of disease.

Individual animals within an OTF herd can be restricted when a herd contains one or more animal that has given an inconclusive result to a skin test and the herd has not been classified as OTFW in the previous three years. In these circumstances, the inconclusive animal(s) will be restricted to the premises, kept isolated from other cattle and tested again whilst the rest of the herd keeps its OTF status.

Officially TB Free Suspended

The OTF status of a herd is suspended when there is a suspicion of TB infection within that herd. The status of a herd will be suspended when:

  • a skin test discloses one reactor and it is not classed as a traced animal, has no detected lesions at the post mortem and has negative culture results
  • the herd is not contiguous to another herd whose OTF status has been withdrawn in the last six months 
  • the herd has not had its OTF status withdrawn in the previous three years
  • a herd contains no reactors but one or more animal has given an inconclusive result to a skin test and the herd has been classified as OTFW in the previous three years
  • a herd has one or more animal that is identified as having lesions typical of TB through routine post mortem examination in a slaughterhouse
  • a herd has one or more animal that is showing clinical signs of being infected with TB
  • the status of the herd is unknown due to a skin test becoming overdue 
  • any combination of the above circumstances.

Herds with OTFS status need to have at least one clear herd TB test before movement restrictions are lifted and to regain its OTF status.

Officially TB Free Withdrawn

The OTF status of a herd is withdrawn when evidence suggests that infection is present. The status of a herd will be withdrawn when more than one reactor is found at a TB test or only one reactor is found at a TB test and:

  • lesions that are typical of TB are identified at the post-mortem inspection
  • a laboratory test has demonstrated the presence of Mycobacterium bovis (bovine TB)
  • the herd has been classified as OTFW in the previous three years
  • the herd is next to another herd which has been classified as OTFW in the previous six months
  • disease risk to that herd has been identified by the APHA
  • any combination of the above circumstances.

When a herd is classified as OTFW, follow up testing takes place until we are satisfied that the disease is no longer present. Herds with an OTFW status require two clear consecutive TB tests at a minimum interval of 60 days in order to regain OTF status and for movement restrictions to be lifted.

Welsh Government

TB Hub

Animal Plant Health Agency (APHA)

The Farming Community Network

Regional bovine TB Eradication Boards

LINK TBA

If you would like to contact your local regional board please email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Private vets play a pivotal role in ensuring the health and welfare of animals in Wales. Through Cymorth TB Iechyd Da are seeking to enhance the role for private vets in the management of TB.

Cymorth TB allows farmers and herd keepers affected by TB access to a specialist visit by a trained private vet. During the visit the vet will provide support and advice on how to prevent the disease. The programme is voluntary on the part of the farmer.

The programme is managed by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) and delivered by Iechyd Da and Menter and Busnes. Farmers are offered access to the programme in the form of a voucher which will be provided to them by APHA. The programme is available across Wales.

Welsh Government have developed a TB dashboard to present the disease situation across Wales  visually and make the information easy to understand.

A definition of the terms used is below:

Figure 1 – _Open and new incidents at the end of the reporting quarter compared to the previous quarter

The bar charts show the number of open incidents on a quarterly basis since 2010(22 quarters). The red bar indicates the highest count and the green bar the lowest count. Note that the scale of the vertical axis scale may vary by county.

Figure 2 – _Number of new, closed and open incidents

Number of new incidents: the number of Officially Tuberculosis Free (OTF) herds in which at least one reactor, inconclusive reactor (IR) taken as a reactor or a culture positive slaughterhouse case has been found in the quarter.

Number of incidents closed: the number bTB incidents with bTB restrictions lifted (TB10 issued) in the quarter.

Number of open incidents: the total number of bTB incidents remaining under bTB restriction at the quarter end. This comprises new incidents and incidents persisting from previous reporting periods.

Figure 3 – _Relative incidence, herd prevalence and animal level risk

Number of new incidents per 100 live herd tests (or relative incidence): the number of herds placed under restriction due to a new bTB incident per 100 live herd tests in the quarter.

Number of herds under restriction due to bTB incident per 100 live herds at the end of reporting period (or herd prevalence): the number of herds under restriction due to a bTB incident, in a known population, at the end of the quarter.

Number of reactors per 1000 cattle tested (or animal level risk): the number of reactor cattle identified per 1000 cattle tested in the quarter.

Figure 4 – _Proportion of closed TB cases with recurrence

Proportion of closed bTB incidents in quarter where within the subsequent 2 years another breakdown occurred. This is set against numbers of closed cases in the same period to show if an increase in breakdown closures was linked to a rise in recurrence. Because of the two year time lag, the most recent reporting quarter is Q2 2013.

Figure 5 – _Officially TB Free Gauge

The percentage of officially TB free herds in Wales in the reporting quarter and the equivalent quarters in the previous two years. This represents the number of cattle herds designated Officially TB Free status under EU legislation (a herd with this status is able to trade and has no bTB restrictions in place). Expressed as a percentage of all live herds.

Gloassry Terms

Officially tuberculosis-free (OTF) - a status that is given to a bovine herd and is defined with EU legislation. A herd with this status is able to trade and has no bTB restrictions in place.

bTB incident - A herd previously OTF in which at least one test reactor, IR taken as a reactor, or positive culture slaughterhouse case has been found. The restriction, and thus the incident, begins on the disclosing test date and ends on the date that Form TB10 is issued.

Live herd - bovine herd defined in the County/Parish/Holding/Herd notation which was “live” (i.e. not archived), flagged as active on SAM on 31st December 2013.

Incidence is the number of new bTB incidents that occur in a known number of animals or herds over a specified period of time.

Relative incidence is the number of new bTB incidents disclosed in a known number of herd tests.

Herd prevalence is the number of bTB incident herds in a known number of herds at a designated time.

Animal level risk is the number of bTB reactors disclosed in a known number of tested animals at a designated time.

Recurrence rate measures the percentage of new bTB incidents with a previous closed bTB incident within the preceding two years.

Good biosecurity and husbandry practices are important in reducing the risk of infection from bovine TB.

How to improve biosecurity

Moving cattle on to a farm increases the risk of introducing bovine TB and other diseases. Even in closed herds cattle can make contact with other cattle on neighbouring land, adding to the threat. There are a series of precautionary measures that cattle farmers can take to improve biosecurity on their holding.

Keep your cattle away from neighbouring cattle

  • fences between farms must be suitably stock-proof
  • a double boundary fence (3m or more apart) should be considered to prevent nose-to-nose contact on shared boundaries
  • where contact could occur between cattle on neighbouring farms (gates, troughs and other gaps) a temporary electric fence can just as easily form a suitable barrier to prevent opportunities for contact and possible disease spread
  • wherever possible, prevent access to shared watercourses such as ponds or streams and provide piped water to troughs instead.

Know where bought-in animals have come from

  • seek advice about animal health from your vet before purchasing cattle
  • always know the origins of bought-in cattle. Although the herd may be TB free, it may be located in a high risk area
  • ask for appropriate evidence of the testing history of the source herd as well as dates of previous TB tests for all bought-in cattle. The TB passport sticker is an easy way to identify when cattle last had a clear test (only if purchased in Wales)
  • incoming cattle should have been pre-movement tested if coming from a high risk area
  • be aware of the disease risk from hired or shared cattle, including hired bulls. Where possible, breed your own replacements and/or use Artificial Insemination (AI)
  • be aware of the potential risk of introducing infection when cattle are returning from common grazing or unsold from markets
  • isolate incoming cattle in appropriate isolation facilities. When using a paddock/field for this purpose, make sure that no contact can be made with other cattle in your herd or with neighbouring cattle.

General good practice

  • cattle housing should be well ventilated - do not overstock cattle when housed
  • provide cattle with a balanced and nutritional diet
  • do not feed unpasteurised, high cell count milk to calves
  • keep cattle away from freshly spread cattle muck/slurry and dispose of cattle bedding so that they cannot gain access to it
  • work with your vet to formulate a health plan for your herd
  • have pressure washers, brushes, hoses and disinfectant available and make visitors use them
  • thoroughly clean and disinfect farm machinery, particularly if sharing equipment with a neighbouring farm, and insist contractors do the same.

Manure management

  • studies have shown that Mycobacterium bovis can survive for up to 6 months in stored slurry
  • it is recommended that cattle do not graze pasture for 2 months after slurry / manure / dirty water has been applied on it.

More advice for cattle keepers on what they can do to help reduce the risk of TB infection in their herds is available from the Animal and Plant Health Agency (external link).

Think Before you Buy.

TB or disease like BVD or Johnes can have a significant economic and welfare impact on your farm. Bought-in cattle may introduce infection into your herd. You can reduce this risk by asking for information about the testing and disease history of an animal and the herd it comes from.

Before you buy cattle, ask the seller or auctioneer the following questions:

  • Have the animal(s) been pre-movement tested? If yes, when?
  • When did the herd last have a whole herd test?
  • Has the herd ever had TB? If yes, how long has it been TB free?

You should also consider the disease situation in the area that the cattle are from. Irrespective of where animals are purchased from it is important to know the TB history of the herd and the disease history of the animal.

Date of Pre-Movement Test (PrMT)

Ideally, cattle should be pre-movement tested. Alternatively, testing animals on arrival in their new herd reduces the risk of infection spreading.

Date of the last whole herd test

Every animal offered for sale to a TB-free herd should have tested negative for TB. In Wales, every cattle herd must be tested at least once a year. However, cattle from other parts of the UK may not have been tested for up to four years. Knowing a herd has recently tested negative may provide you with extra reassurance that it is truly TB-free.

How long the herd has been TB free

Buying cattle from herds with a history of the disease represents more of a risk than buying cattle from herds that have never had TB. Herds with a history of TB are around three times more likely to have a new incident than herds with no history of the disease.

Precautions you can take

If you think the cattle you are buying are a risk, there are precautions you can take:

Isolation

TB is most likely to spread between infected and uninfected animals during periods of close contact, particularly when cattle are housed. Keeping any new animal separate from the herd until it has tested clear for TB will reduce the opportunity for the disease to spread.

Post-movement testing

Before you introduce any new animal to the rest of your herd, particularly from areas where herds are not annually tested, it is good practice for it to be post-movement tested. This will help to make sure that it has not developed TB since its last test and reduce the risk of the disease spreading to the rest of the herd. Post-movement tests can be arranged through your private vet.

The aim of Cymorth TB is to provide support and advice to farmers whose cattle have TB. The purpose of this is to:

  • minimise the impact of the disease on their farm
  • prevent the disease from spreading.
  • Veterinary Map

  • Eradication Boards

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