Isolating cattle

Purchasing Cattle

Bringing animals into your herd will always carry a risk of introducing many diseases, not just TB. Discuss a herd policy for introducing any new animals and isolation with your vet as part of your herd health plan.

Isolating bought in cattle

When cattle enter a farm, it is recommended to isolate them from other cattle in the herd to ensure that they are not incubating any disease (not just TB) and to give you time to test.

If you are buying in cattle from a herd of higher TB risk status, they should always be isolated. The period of isolation should be at least 60 days so that a post-movement test can be carried out before introducing them into the herd.

These recommendations apply to all cattle entering the herd, including newly purchased stock, bull hire, and cattle that are already under the same herd ownership but that return from being away, e.g. from shows, markets and from other premises. The risk is greater for purchased stock and hired bulls than for animals that have been off the farm for a short time, nevertheless it is important to assume that even short spells off farm can potentially give opportunity for infection at other premises.

The practicality of isolating cattle will depend upon a number of factors, including the number of animals purchased, their purpose (management stage) within the herd and the availability of suitable isolation facilities.

Buildings used for on farm as isolation facilities should ideally be physically separate e.g. a free standing building (i.e. solid walls, no shared airspace, water supply or drainage with other animal accommodation) from any buildings used for other livestock. Any discharges, effluent and manure should be retained in the building or disposed of in such a way that they do not come into contact with other livestock. The isolation facilities can be buildings used for other purposes while animals are not being isolated.

Where fields are used to isolate bought in animals they should be physically separate from any fields or buildings used for other livestock on the premises. Aim for a minimum distance of 3 metres between the perimeter of an isolation field and any other livestock. The 3 metre separation would be satisfied by stock proof double fencing or natural barriers such as empty fields or rivers.

Discuss with your vet what options could be appropriate for isolation on your farm.

Click here for further advice on isolation

Reactor cattle

Reactor cattle present a real risk of infection to the rest of your herd and you must immediately isolate them until they are sent for slaughter. It is important to also isolate inconclusives as these cattle may be infected with M. bovis, the bacterium that causes bovine TB.

Click here for APHA guidance on dealing with TB in your herd in England

Click here for APHA guidance on dealing with TB in your herd in Scotland and Wales