Advice during a TB breakdown

We know that experiencing a TB breakdown in your cattle herd can be particularly stressful. This section provides information about what to expect if your herd suffers a TB breakdown, including TB testing, compensation arrangements and trading options whilst under movement restrictions. 

TB testing cows on a farm - TB hub

What is a TB breakdown?

A TB breakdown is when a herd loses its officially TB free (OTF) status due to bovine TB being suspected or confirmed. There are several reasons why a herd might lose its OTF status.

  • One or more animals testing positive to a TB skin test (known as reactors).
  • One or more animals having two consecutive inconclusive skin test results (known as 2xIRs).

  • One or more animals testing positive to a private interferon-gamma blood test.

Meat carcasses - Bovine TB
  • One or more slaughterhouse cases. This is when lesions typical of TB are found in the carcase of an animal routinely sent to slaughter (i.e. they are not reactors, IRs, or animals removed for disease control purposes). 
  • One or more report cases. This is when lesions typical of TB are found in the carcase of an animal sent to a knacker's yard or hunt kennels. 

  • One or more clinical cases. This is when a live animal shows possible signs of TB, which can include weakness, lethargy, difficulty breathing, chronic coughing and weight loss. Signs of TB in cattle in the UK are very rare due to the frequency of surveillance testing. 

A herd can also lose its OTF status if TB testing becomes overdue, so it is important to keep up to date with statutory testing.

Guidance for cattle keepers in England

Cows from behind - TB Hub

Actions when TB is suspected or confirmed

Once TB-infected cattle have been found, milk and movement restrictions come into force. Find out what action you need to take.

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Cows in a farmyard - TB Hub

Valuation, slaughter and compensation

The Animal & Plant Health Agency arranges valuation, removal and slaughter of reactors. Private slaughter is also an option for cattle keepers.

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Vet examining cows - TB Hub

Testing around TB breakdown herds

To detect any potential spread of TB from breakdowns to other cattle herds, contiguous or radial testing is carried out, as well as trace testing.

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Avian Tuberculin - Bovine TB

Actions when a TB reactor is found

Information about isolation of TB reactors and the documents that you will receive from the Animal & Plant Health Agency.

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Viles of Avian and Bovine Tuberculin - TB hub

Testing during a TB breakdown

Information about the skin testing regime carried out during a TB breakdown, and supplementary blood testing used in some cases.

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Farm paperwork - TB hub

Other actions taken during a TB breakdown

As well as TB testing, there are other actions such as cleaning and disinfection, and management of manure and slurry that take place.

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TB  calipers TBhub

Actions when an IR is found

Find out about isolation and re-testing of inconclusive reactors (IRs), and the option of private slaughter before re-testing.

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Cows being unloaded - Bovine TB

Trading cattle whilst TB-restricted

Find out about the options for trading when a herd is under movement restrictions, and how to apply for a movement licence.

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White cows in the field - Bovine TB

Actions once TB restrictions are lifted

Find out what post-breakdown TB testing is carried out after movement restrictions have been lifted at the end of a breakdown.

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Guidance for cattle keepers in Wales and Scotland

Guidance leaflets “Dealing with TB in your herd” are available on GOV.UK for cattle keepers in Wales and Scotland.