In a new temporary amendment put in place from May 3 animals under six-months-old have been made exempt from TB testing during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Handling and restraint during TB testing of young stock can often put vets and farmers in close quarters, and with the current social distancing measures in place this could pose a threat to human health.
Hazel Wright, Farmers Union of Wales said: “Many within the livestock sector have been placed under immense financial and emotional pressure and derogations which prioritise farmer health and well-being must be welcomed.”
The APHA announced from this week in England and Wales, animals under 180-days-old at the time of a routine or targeted herd surveillance TB tests were exempt from testing in officially TB free (OTF) herds.
The amendment was applied retrospectively and covered incomplete tests which were to be completed on or after 23rd March, and it will cover all qualifying tests until further notice.
The amendment stated if all animals on the holding over 180 days old were tested with negative results the test was considered to be complete.
It also said any calves 42 to 179 days old that could not be tested safely whilst maintaining social distancing were to be left untested until the herd’s next TB test. Pre- and post-movement TB testing rules still applied.
However, the APHA said animals over 42 days old were still required to be tested for several reasons such as in herds which were undergoing short interval or check testing due to a TB breakdown, herds with cattle intended for export, when carrying trace testing to or from a confirmed TB breakdown herd or inconclusive reactors waiting for a re-test. For more information visit the TBhub
The APHA advised farmers could help minimise the risks by ensuring their handling facilities were adequate and set up to avoid human to human contact where possible.
In Scotland normal TB testing procedures still apply.