Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Monday 24 July 2017

'Your herd is restricted' - farmers told of TB positive herds at marts

This lot of 8 Friesian bullocks sold for €6,000 at Carnew Mart. Photo: O'Gorman Photography
This lot of 8 Friesian bullocks sold for €6,000 at Carnew Mart. Photo: O'Gorman Photography
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

There has been a number of cases in recent months where herd owners have presented cattle for sale at marts only to find that their cattle are ‘trade suspended’ by the Animal Identification and Movement (AIM) System, however the farmer may not yet have been directly informed of this by the Department of Agriculture. 

ICOS has outlined some occurrences of this problem to Department representatives at the recent meeting of the Farmers Charter Monitoring Committee in December.

The current TB rules are that, following the disclosure of reactors in a herd and subsequent categorisation of the breakdown as high-risk, notifications are issued to all ‘contiguous’ or adjoining herds. 

A testing programme is undertaken only in those herds contiguous to the infected fragment and which are then also designated as ‘TB at risk’.

The process is different depending on whether the herd has been tested within the previous four months or not.

Rules

  1. herds identified as being contiguous to the infective fragment(s), relevant to the breakdown and tested within the previous four months of the contiguous programme being set up, will still be required to carry out a TB test as normal 4-months after their last test. These herds will be free to trade until the 4-month anniversary of their previous test.
  2. herds identified as being contiguous to the infective fragment(s), relevant to the breakdown and not tested within the previous 4-months of the contiguous programme being set up will be immediately temporarily trade suspended, other than to slaughter, pending test outcome. 

Ray Doyle of ICOS said, “It’s essential that farmers are directly and rapidly informed if their animals are being restricted.  Otherwise they can face embarrassment and an unforeseen loss of income and cashflow if they are prohibited from trading. 

“I welcome reassurances received from the Department that every effort is made by Regional Veterinary Offices to get in contact with herd owners to notify them when they are restricted.


“The Department also urged that any instances where it’s thought that the correct notification procedures were not carried out should be informed to the Department.”

Cattle still can't be sold at a mart after 10 years of clear tests

In relation to the potential for historically inconclusive animals be sold in marts, Doyle said ICOS questioned the rationale behind an animal being inconclusive - potentially 10 years earlier and subsequently having numerous clear tests at the annual herd test - being restricted from sale at the mart.

The Department confirmed to ICOS at this meeting that any animal that has an inconclusive reactor reaction will be prevented from moving from the herd concerned for the duration of its lifetime, except to slaughter.

The Department also provided findings of research carried out on the bovine TB (bTB) risk for Standard Inconclusive Reactors (SIRs) both prior to (at slaughter) and at the Inconclusive Reactor Re-test (IRR). This showed that between 11.8% and 21.4% of SIRs slaughtered prior to the IRR were positive at post-mortem, compared to 0.13% to 0.22% of non-SIR animals.

Where a standard inconclusive reactor has passed a retest then its passport will be stamped. The purpose of the stamping is to ensure that the keeper will have a visible warning on the passport to prevent them inadvertently bringing the animal to the mart and having the sale refused by AIM.

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