Covid-19 protocol on TB testing ‘makes sense’ – Farrell

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s extension to the Covid-19 TB testing protocol until April 1, has been welcomed by the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA).

Commenting, IFA National Animal Health Committee chairman Pat Farrell said the extension of the revised protocol is “a practical recognition of the situation and the challenges and concerns facing farmers at this difficult time, while also ensuring the TB programme continues to function”.

“Clearly outlining the protocol for an extended period allows farmers to plan and schedule their on-farm work,” Farrell said.

Critically, it allows dairy farmers plan with certainty their sale of calves with the facilitation of internal trade for calves up 120 days of age without requiring a TB test.

In the protocol, the department says that, 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.

However, a grace period of 28 days from the date on which the herd test becomes due will be applied before this suspension comes into effect, during which the herd can continue trading.

Commenting on this, Farrell said the grace period after the test due date is important “as it takes pressure off farmers who need to sell cattle, to test immediately”.