Post-movement TB testing in the Low Risk Area of England

On 6 April 2016, compulsory post-movement testing was introduced in the Low Risk Area (LRA) of England for cattle moved from other areas of England and Wales. 

Cattle (which includes farmed bison and Asiatic water buffalo) moved to herds in the Low Risk Area (LRA) may require compulsory post-movement testing if they originate from:

  • High Risk Area (HRA) of England
  • Edge Area of England
  • Wales

You can find more information on the different TB risk areas in GB on GOV.UK. The policy applies to direct movements of cattle from one holding to another holding, and to indirect movements of cattle via markets and shows. A small number of specific exemptions to post-movement testing apply (see below). Cattle moved to herds in the LRA do not require compulsory post-movement testing if they originate from other herds in the LRA or in Scotland.

To reduce the risk of TB-infected cattle moved from higher TB incidence areas of GB transmitting infection to new herds in the LRA of England.

Herd owners are responsible for ensuring they comply with TB testing rules. However, the Animal & Plant Health Agency (APHA) sends notification letters to LRA keepers indentified as bringing in animals that need a post-movement test.

Generally it is the person who brings cattle into the LRA from higher TB risk areas. However, a government-funded whole herd TB surveillance test can be used as a post-movement test if the timing works.

You should contact your Veterinary Delivery Partner (VDP), the practice that normally carries out TB testing of your herd, or any other official veterinarian authorised to carry out TB testing.

Yes. Cattle brought into the LRA from other parts of England and Wales must be post-movement tested between 60 and 120 days of arriving in the LRA.

The 60-120 day window for a post-movement test is designed to maximise detection of infected cattle moved from higher TB incidence areas whilst allowing the keeper a certain amount of flexibility.

Sixty days is the minimum time allowed between skin tests to prevent a phenomenon known as desensitisation, whereby an animal’s skin reactivity to tuberculin is reduced for some time after the test. Cattle moving to a lower TB incidence area could have completed a pre-movement test just before they left a holding in a higher TB incidence area. This means that 60 days after arrival is the earliest that post-movement testing can be carried out. The 60 days also allows enough time for a recently infected animal to react to the tuberculin test at the destination holding.

Allowing up to 120 days for the post-movement test to be completed at the destination holding gives keepers a reasonable amount of time to book the test. The 120 days allows for 60 days to elapse if any test is undertaken before the start of the post-movement testing window e.g. a routine whole herd surveillance test. It also allows sufficient time (four months) for any introduced animals intended only for fattening to be finished on the destination holding and sent to a slaughterhouse without the need for a post-movement test. This focuses the effort and expense associated with post-movement testing on high risk cattle moved into lower TB incidence areas to live, avoiding the need to test animals that are going to be slaughtered shortly after they arrive.

No. Cattle brought into the LRA cannot be moved to another holding until they have had a post-movement test with negative results. The exception to this is movements for veterinary treatment or to slaughter.

Movement restrictions are applied to the herd until all cattle that should have been post-movement tested are tested with negative results. The post-movement test will be regarded as overdue, which may trigger cross-compliance penalties i.e. reductions to any basic farm payments the cattle keeper receives. APHA carries out compliance monitoring of post-movement testing, writing to non-compliant keepers and referring them to the Local Authority.

No, there are a small number of exemptions. In the following scenarios a post-movement test is not required:

  • Cattle slaughtered within 120 days of arriving in the LRA
  • Cattle moved to an agricultural show in the LRA, or that return to the LRA from an agricultural show elsewhere, provided that the move does not involve a stay of more than 24 hours at the showground, or housing of animals at the showground, and they are returned directly to their premises of origin after the show, or killed or go directly to slaughter after the show
  • Cattle moved solely for veterinary treatment in the LRA or returning to the LRA following treatment outside of the LRA provided that they are returned directly to their holding of origin, are killed, or go directly to slaughter
  • Cattle moved directly to a Licensed Finishing Unit (LFU), exempt market or approved slaughter gathering (red market) in the LRA

Cattle moved to LFUs from other parts of England and Wales are exempt from post-movement testing. This is the case if the animals move directly to an LFU, or if they move indirectly to an LFU via another holding in the LRA (provided the cattle are moved to the LFU within 120 days of ‘arriving’ on the LRA holding).

Yes, a post-movement test must be completed within 60 and 120 days of arrival. By that time the calves will be eligible for TB testing, even if calves under 42 days are not pre-movement TB tested. Animals must remain on the holding until the test is completed, unless exemptions apply (see above).

No, the post-movement testing requirement is based on the testing for the area rather than individual herd testing regime, if this differs.

Post-movement testing and agricultural shows

Cattle moved from herds in the LRA of England to non-exempt shows in the rest of England or in Wales will need to be post-movement tested when they return to the home farm in the LRA. A non-exempt show is one that lasts more than 24 hours and/or where the cattle are housed.  

No. The animal cannot move off the farm (except to slaughter or for veterinary treatment) until that test has been completed with negative results. LRA cattle keepers who wish to send stock to multiple shows held in other parts of England or Wales may defer the post-movement test by keeping their animals outside of the LRA between shows.

There is a risk of transmission of TB between cattle at shows, either directly (through airborne spread or nose-to-nose contact) or indirectly via equipment and the environment. The risk is likely to be higher in an enclosed environment or where cattle from different herds are kept on the showground for extended periods of time, relative to that posed by open-air shows and where cattle return to their herds of origin within 24 hours. APHA has identified TB breakdowns in the LRA in cattle herds where the most likely route of transmission was regular show attendance by cattle from the herd. Visiting shows is a risk for disease spread and we want to reduce that risk by post-movement testing.

Post movement testing and markets

No. A post-movement test would not be required if the moves to and from the livestock market are direct i.e. they do not involve a stay at another holding outside the LRA on their way to or from the market.