The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) has announced the extension of Covid-19-related TB-testing protocol until August 1, 2021.

This facilitates the continued movement, between herds, of calves under 120 days’ as long as the herd from which the calf is moving retains its ‘free’ status.

However, this does not apply to reactor retests or if the calf is to be exported. If a calf aged under 120 days’ is intended for export, a 30-day pre-export TB-test requirement remains in place for calves greater than 42 days of age.

Calves between 42 and 120 days of age should be tested only where both the farmer and the vet are satisfied that social distancing can be adhered to.

Calves aged above 120 days’ must have passed a TB test to move between herds

Grace period

Additionally, where a herd cannot be TB tested due to Covid-19, 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.

TB eradication

The DAFM said that it “continues to seek to facilitate farmers in continuing efforts to eradicate TB and undertake testing as required, while also facilitating the continuation of animal movements and the continuity of all elements of
the food supply chain”.

“The overriding principle in all situations is that the health and safety of farmers, vets, service providers, contractors, other staff and their families is paramount.”

TB testing advice

Other advice highlighted by the department is as follows:

  • Before commencing, the vet should make a plan with the farmer regarding physical distancing and face coverings;
  • Only essential personnel should be allowed to be present during a TB test;
  • Avoid direct close contact, such as hand shaking;
  • Use outdoor facilities where practicable;
  • When moving between farms, vets should fully and properly disinfect, including hand washing;
  • Do not test an animal where the vet or farmer form the opinion that social distancing guidelines cannot be complied with.

Full details are available here.