Introducing new animals to a herd can be a potential disease risk for TB and other cattle diseases. The key objective of responsible cattle movements is to consider the TB history of the herd that you are buying from so that you can assess and manage the risk of introducing TB into your herd. Try to obtain a full TB history of herds from which you purchase cattle so that you can assess the level of risk and take action to manage it. As a minimum, you should ask for the following three pieces of information.
Not all animals require pre-movement tests, but those that do should have been tested in the 60 days before their sale. For details of the legal requirements, see the guidance on GOV.UK.
Knowing this date may offer additional reassurance if the herd has tested negative for TB recently or it may prompt you to consider carrying out isolation and post-movement testing before introducing the animal into your herd. If the last test was some time ago or you are uncertain about the testing history e.g. if the animal was not bred on the holding from which it is being sold, you should consider isolating the animal and ask your vet to conduct a post-movement test.
All animals offered for sale should have tested negative for TB and come from an OTF herd. However, the length of time that the herd of origin has been OTF can be an indication of the risk level of cattle from that herd. The longer a herd has been free of TB restrictions, the lower the risk, and conversely a herd that has recently come off restrictions is likely to be a higher risk.
Using this information you will be able to make a more informed decision about whether to purchase the animal(s), and if you do proceed, how to manage the animal(s) once on-farm, for example through separation from the existing herd and/or post-movement TB testing. Discuss a herd policy for introducing any new animals and isolation with your vet as part of your herd health plan.
- ibTB is an interactive online mapping tool that displays the location of resolved and ongoing TB breakdowns in England and Wales over the past five years.
- You can search using a post code or county parish holding (CPH) number and data is updated every two weeks.
- ibTB is a useful tool when purchasing cattle as it allows you to check the TB history of the herd (if the CPH or post code is known), and the local area that you are buying from.
Isolating moved on 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 TB 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.
- Advice on isolation of cattle. Source: Dairy Co and the British Cattle Veterinary Association (BCVA)
- Protect your herd from TB poster. Source: TB Free England
- Information leaflet for farmers buying cattle. Source: TB Free England
- Information for farmers in the Low Risk Area buying cattle. Source: TB Free England