About Bovine TB
Testing & movements
England, Scotland and Wales have different legislation and systems for TB compensation. The system of compensation applied depends on where the cattle were TB tested. For example, if the keeper’s main holding is in England, but the cattle were tested over the border in Wales, any compensation due would be determined by Welsh legislation. Once you have received your ‘reactor pack’, APHA will contact you to carry out a telephone valuation. They will ask a series of questions in order to:
The valuation is usually completed at the time of the phone call using table valuations unless the animal requires an individual valuation by an independent valuer. If your herd is a new breakdown you will need to complete a ‘details of supplier form’ so that compensation can be paid into your bank account. Following this you will be sent a ‘valuation pack’ containing:
Valuation of Bovine Animals Form
Licence Authorising Movement of Cattle to a Slaughterhouse
You will also receive a brown envelope addressed to the haulier for the cattle passports, TB24 licences and FCI declaration along with a reminder to give these documents to the haulier.
Compensation will be paid to you after the slaughter and post-mortem examination of the reactors which could be up to six weeks after slaughter.
Valuations in England follow a table based system in the vast majority of cases.
Almost all cases of TB compensation in England are determined using table valuations
Compensation is based on the average market price for the specific bovine category on the relevant date. The relevant date determines which set of monthly tables is used for calculating the compensation. For animals slaughtered for bovine TB the relevant date is:
The categories are based on the animal’s age, sex, pedigree status and type (e.g. beef or dairy).
This is calculated from either:
Compensation tables (both current and historical) can be found on GOV.UK
Valuer jointly appointed by owner and APHA
This is used where there is no table valuation figure provided for a specific category – for example, if not enough sales data for a particular type of cattle has been gathered that month. Individual valuations are also used for buffalo and bison as table valuations cover cattle only. Usually an individual valuation is made by a valuer selected by APHA, whose appointment is agreed by both the owner and APHA.
All cattle on Approved Finishing Units (AFU), Licensed Finishing Units (LFU) and Exempt Finishing Units (EFU) are destined for slaughter only and have no breeding potential. Therefore they will only be classified as commercial type.
For an animal to fall within a pedigree category for TB valuation purposes it must be entered into the main section of a breeding book and have received a zootechnical certificate from a recognised breed society. Checks are made by APHA to confirm whether a pedigree certificate has been issued by the breed society. To see the full definition of a pedigree animal, visit GOV.UK
Where access to the breed pedigree certificate is not available at the time of valuation, the owner must provide a copy of the certificate to APHA by fax, email or post. The pedigree certificate must pre-date the relevant TB test results and be received within 10 calendar days of the reading date of the TB test. If no certificate is received within this time, the commercial value will be paid.
Cows in the process of being graded-up (i.e. recently registered with the herd society, sired by a pedigree bull but born to non-pedigree, unregistered dams and therefore without full pedigree certification) will be valued as non-pedigree stock.
Any certificate bearing the words ‘Supplementary Register’ does not count as full pedigree certification.
Any animals classed as reactors or direct contacts will be compulsorily removed from your herd and slaughtered.
A direct contact (DC) is an animal that, although it has not tested positive for TB, has been in contact with known infected animals and is slaughtered for disease control purposes. Compensation is paid for DCs.
Compensation is paid provided that the animals are appropriately tagged and identification documents are in order. Compensation is only payable for animals which comply with the Cattle Identification Regulations 2007, including the requirement for cattle to be identified by means of ear tags and a passport.
In England, compensation payments may be reduced in the following circumstances:
A 50% reduction in compensation is applied for animals moved into a TB breakdown herd that are subsequently removed as TB reactors (or direct contacts) before the herd regains officially TB free (OTF) status.
Approved Finishing Units, Licensed Finishing Units and TB Isolation Units are exempt from this reduction. Any herd registered to a bovine TB health scheme accredited under the Cattle Health Certification Standards (CHeCS) where membership was granted prior to loss of OTF status is also exempt.
Unclean cattle at slaughter are a public health risk. If cattle are contaminated with faeces at the time of slaughter, there is a risk that the meat could become contaminated during the dressing process with harmful bacteria such as Salmonella, E.coli O157 and Campylobacter. Research has shown that the dirtier the hide, the greater the potential for carcase contamination and the higher the risk to human health. Wet hides may also increase the risk of bacteria being transferred more readily.
Animals removed for TB control purposes must meet the same standards of cleanliness that are applied to all other animals sent for slaughter. A 50% reduction in compensation is applied for reactor cattle/direct contacts that cannot be processed for human consumption at a slaughterhouse because they are unclean.
Cattle that are too dirty for slaughter not only represent a public health risk, but can also be indicative of animal welfare issues on the farm of origin. On farm welfare investigations may be triggered by APHA when considered appropriate.
For further information and guidance, see the Clean Livestock Policy and our section on the TB Hub
Where compensation payable is reduced, APHA will tell the keeper in writing of this decision.
All cattle should be removed and slaughtered as soon as possible once classed as reactors or direct contacts. Normally reactor removal by APHA occurs within 10 working days of reactors being found although there are provisions for delaying removal in exceptional circumstances.
APHA will arrange for the collection and slaughter of your reactors unless you opt for private slaughter. APHA will contact you and agree a date to remove your cattle. You should be present or make arrangements for someone else to help load the cattle. You must also ensure that:
Movement of reactors to slaughter may be delayed if there are issues with their identification or passport. It is important that all forms of identification, including ear tags and passports are always up to date. Contact the British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS) to resolve any discrepancies with identification and movements of cattle.
Under APHA’s Reactor Removal Framework, priority reactors are defined as:
All animals considered to be priority reactors are taken to the nearest available contracted slaughterhouse.
If an animal is due to calve within 60 days of its identification as a TB reactor, a request can be made to APHA to delay its slaughter to allow for calving. If you want to delay removal, you need to provide a written declaration from you as the owner and a private vet of your choice before the request can be authorised by APHA. The relevant forms (TB211/TB212) can be downloaded from GOV.UK under ‘Delayed removal of in-calf cattle’. This is at the owner’s expense.
The cattle keeper must apply to APHA for a specific licence (TB24) to move the reactor (or IR) to slaughter and discuss private arrangements. It is the keeper’s responsibility to organise haulage to their chosen slaughterhouse within the required timeframe and to complete and submit a Food Chain Information (FCI) declaration with the animal (this will be sent to you in your ‘Valuation Pack’ or may be downloaded from the Food Standards Agency website, under Annex 2). Not all slaughterhouses will accept TB reactors/Direct Contacts (DCs) therefore it is the owner’s responsibility to check this with the slaughterhouse. APHA staff will confirm the agreement with the slaughterhouse and Food Standards Agency (FSA) prior to issuing the licence.
Owners taking up the option of private slaughter forgo compensation payable by Defra, taking instead a payment from their slaughterhouse operator for the meat value of the carcase (known as salvage payment). However, to ensure owners benefit from this option, Defra will pay full compensation for cattle removed for TB control purposes that are privately slaughtered but the carcase is totally condemned by the slaughterhouse operator due to TB.
For more information, see our article on the TB Hub.
It’s a commonly held misconception that an NVL animal didn’t have TB, but this is not the case. In the UK, only approximately 40% of all skin test reactors show visible lesions due to the relatively insensitive methods of confirming infection with M. bovis at slaughter. This is not a failure of the skin test. Lesions take time to become big enough to see with the naked eye, meaning in the early stages of infection they are too small or infrequent to be seen. Visible lesions can also be missed due to the relatively quick post mortem inspection at commercial slaughterhouses.
The skin test is highly specific (approx. 99.98%) which in practical terms, means that you would expect one false positive result for every 5,000 uninfected cattle tested using standard interpretation. So if an animal is a skin test reactor, it is highly likely to be truly infected with the disease, regardless of the post mortem or culture result.
Some examples of TB lesions in cattle carcases are shown below:
In some cases, tissue samples from the carcases of reactors and direct contacts are sent to the lab to try to culture the TB bacterium. It takes a minimum of six weeks to culture M. bovis because the bacterium is difficult to grow in the laboratory.
For carcases with visible lesions, tissue samples are taken from the lesioned organs and/or lymph nodes and M. bovis is cultured in approximately 96% of cases. For carcases that do not have any visible lesions at slaughter, a pooled sample of lymph nodes is taken. It is much more difficult to culture M. bovis in these cases, with only around 5% of cultures positive. It is important to realise that due to the insensitive nature of bacteriological culture and the difficulties in culturing M. bovis, a negative culture result does not necessarily mean that the animal was not infected.