Calls for 120-day TB testing calf exemption to be maintained

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has been called on by the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) to retain a rule change introduced during the Covid-19 lockdown in relation to a TB testing exemption for calves aged up to 120 days.

Back in April, the department introduced an updated TB testing protocol which was the age exemption for calves from TB testing increased from 42 days up to 120 days. This rule change should be retained going forward according to Lorcan McCabe, deputy president of ICMSA.

McCabe cited the positive benefits the rule change has delivered from a farming perspective.

Given the seasonal nature of calving in Ireland with peak sales in the February to May period, allied to the changing farming structure and growth in part-time farming, an older calf is often more attractive to many buyers and the current 42-day TB test requirement is a major barrier that impacts on the age of sale of the calf.

Describing the introduction of the 120-day requirement due to Covid-19 as “a welcome development”, McCabe added:

“The feedback from farmers is that it has also impacted positively on how they market their calves with farmers being able to meet the demand from some farmers who require an older calf with the sellers also getting a better price for that calf.”

The deputy president outlined his organisation’s view that the department should now consider maintaining this rule in the long term given the benefits it has delivered in allowing the calf trade to operate in a more structured way and also to meet the demands of certain farmers.

“It has been a positive development and it should be maintained,” concluded McCabe.