Cattle covered by a valid bovine tuberculosis (TB) herd test will be permitted to be traded at marts under the new TB regulations which will come into effect next month, according to the Irish Co-operative Organisation Society (ICOS).

The society said that only animals “that originate from a herd that have not been tested within the last six months, or an animal itself not having had a TB test within the last six months, will require post-movement testing”.

ICOS said in these specific circumstances anyone who has purchased cattle “will subsequently be notified of any additional post-movement testing requirements directly by the Department of Agriculture [Food and the Marine]”.

The society has outlined that “sellers of cattle at marts will be able to trade all cattle within the timings of their current annual herd tests, under the new TB regulations that come into effect from February 1”.

Cattle sales

Ray Doyle, ICOS environment and livestock executive, said: “Farmers are guaranteed their sale day at the mart and there will be no disruption to buying or selling activity caused by the new rules.

“If your herd has been tested in the last six months, including the animal that you are selling, then additional testing will not be necessary.”

He also detailed that the majority of animals brought to the marts should satisfy the required time intervals and therefore not need additional testing. 

“In time, as buyers and sellers become more familiar with the new regulations, most will be able to time their annual herd tests to remain compliant and to avoid any unnecessary costs arising from standalone or additional testing,” Doyle added.

Under new regulations, cattle over 36 months of age that are moving from farm to farm or through a mart must have been TB tested in the last six months, or be tested within 30 days after the movement.

There have been concerns raised that this could burden farmers with additional costs. Independent TD for Laois-Offaly Carol Nolan said farmers needed “explicit guarantees” from the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine that they would not be faced with additional payments for TB testing.

The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) has also stated that it will not accept new TB testing rules unless the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) fully covers the cost for farmers.