120-day calf exemption from TB tests to cease in September

The exemption for calves between 42 and 120 days of age from TB testing will cease on Tuesday, September 1, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has confirmed.

In a statement this evening, Friday, July 31, the department said: “During this challenging period associated with the Covid-19 pandemic, the department continues to seek to facilitate farmers in continuing efforts to eradicate TB and undertake testing as required, while also facilitating the continuation of animal movements and the continuity of all elements of the food supply chain.

“The overriding principle in all situations is that the health and safety of farmers, vets, service providers, contractors, other staff and their families is paramount.

These arrangements will continue in place until September 1, subject to review. The Covid-19 situation is evolving, and in this context this guidance may change as a result.

Updated guidance will be issued as necessary, based on Health Service Executive (HSE) information, the department statement added.

The department said it supports TB testing continuity using safe practices which observe HSE guidelines, to protect trade and minimise TB spread at this time.

Those involved in carrying out a TB test should act in accordance with the guidance of the HSE at all times. The department will be guided by the HSE if further actions are required to be taken, it was added.

From September 1, 2020, the exemption for calves between 42 and 120 days of age from TB testing will cease. From September 1, all cattle aged over 42 days must be included in a herd TB test. Calves over 42 days will require a TB test in order to move off the holding.

The department added that, up to Monday, August 31, calves aged between 42 and 120 days are not required to be included in a herd test, unless the farmer and vet agree to do so.

Figures show that in June 2020, when TB tests were carried out in herds where calves aged 42-120 days were present, 88% of such herds tested all such calves, up from 78% in May 2020.

Where a herd cannot be TB tested due to Covid-19 related issues, the trading status of the herd will be suspended when the herd becomes overdue.

When the suspension is then applied, moves directly to slaughter will still be permitted, the department concluded.