28-day TB testing extension and 120-day calf exemption lauded

The decision to reintroduce the TB Covid-19 procedures that were in place during the initial lockdown earlier this year has been welcomed by the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA).

The measures are due to come into effect from next week, the organisation says.

Commenting, ICMSA deputy president Lorcan McCabe said that the 28-day testing extension will give breathing space to farmers who may be impacted by Covid-19 or might simply be isolating around the time of their expected herd test.

He said that the option of not testing calves under 120 days is also welcome as it would reduce the level of anxiety amongst farmers.

Calves aged 42-120 days can move to other herds within Ireland once the herd of origin is not restricted under these reimplemented protocols.

However, if those calves are not tested in the current test, they will need to be tested to move to other herds once these protocols lapse.

Continuing, McCabe said: “These are challenging times for all involved and we have to work together to ensure the safety of our farmers, vets and department officials, so it is important to make sure that all health guidelines are followed during testing on farms as set out in HSE [Health Service Executive] guidelines.

“We also must remember that the rates of bovine TB are rising again, and the testing of animals must continue to ensure that outbreaks are not made any worse due to delays in testing,” the deputy president added.

He highlighted that there is a balance to be struck between protecting farmers, their families and their communities while also addressing TB in a way that protects herds.

McCabe said that these Covid-19 regulations strike that balance in a clear and careful way.

Concluding, he asked the department to take a flexible approach and work with farmers in the spirit of the overall good that must be the framework within which we all operate.