The View from Northern Ireland: Farmers who wish to establish a high biosecure alternative control herd (ACH) can now apply.

According to Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) has approached the development of ACHs from animal disease control and public health first principles. These recognise the need to introduce robust and demonstrable high biosecure facilities and management measures also capable of accommodating movements from TB breakdown herds, it added.

Speaking on the development, Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill advised: “Care will be taken to ensure that the high level of biosecurity required to obtain approval to operate an ACH will minimise disease risk to neighbouring farms. A system of audits will ensure that this level of biosecurity is maintained and that standards do not slip.

“The conditions of operation for ACHs and further information about the application process is now available on the DARD website, or alternatively from DARD direct offices.”

According to the DARD update, an ACH is a non-grazing herd that has adopted significantly enhanced biosecurity measures to allow minimised testing requirements. Cattle can leave ACH premises only when they are going directly to slaughter in the north of Ireland.

“ACHs will be able to accept cattle from TB free herds on a routine basis. Moves to ACHs from TB breakdown herds will be considered by the department on a case-by-case basis and will be permitted where the move will resolve a potential animal welfare or human hardship problem at the breakdown herd,” it stated.

According to the minister, “it will take some weeks before the first ACH premises are approved” and she is urging anyone currently experiencing animal welfare or hardship problems as a result of TB restrictions to contact their local DARD direct office for advice.

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