The dairy herd at Salesian Agricultural College in Pallaskenry, Co. Limerick has seen 17 tuberculosis (TB) reactors in its most recent testing.

This comprises 11 reactors on the skin test carried out on October 10, and a further six reactors on a follow-up blood test, the results of which were received by the college yesterday (Tuesday, November 29).

This follows on from a skin test on July 19, in which 28 reactors were found, and a further 46 on a subsequent blood test two weeks later. In total between these two tests, 74 reactors were found.

Of the 11 milking cows that went down on the latest skin test, four were found to have legions.

On foot of this, a blood test was carried out on 320 milking cows in the herd last week, in which six further reactors were found.

Speaking to Agriland, principal of Salesian Agricultural College Derek O’Donoghue said that, after the animals are appropriately tagged as reactors, valued and removed, 10-14 days may have elapsed.

From that time, the college will not be able to have a further test for 60 days. The college would be able to test again in around mid-February.

The herd would require two consecutive clear tests, 60 days apart, for restrictions on animal movements to be lifted.

Despite the latest test results, O’Donoghue said the numbers are “moving in the right direction”.

Pallaskenry herd

Salesian Agricultural College is situated on a 550ac farm and offers training and programmes to some 700 students.

Apart from the dairy herd, the farm is also home to a dairy calf-to-beef enterprise and a flock of 100 mid-season lambing ewes.

The dairy herd currently sits within the top 1% of herds for the economic breeding index (EBI) ranking in the country.

Grazed under a spring-calving grass-based system, the dairy herd has an average EBI of €196 and consists of a mixture of Friesian and some Jersey-cross cows.

The Salesian Agriculture College herd is part of the Keystone Herds Programme operated by the National Cattle Breeding Centre (NCBC).