Pre-movement TB testing reduces the risk of bovine TB spreading to new herds through movements of cattle. In England and Wales, all cattle 42 days old and over moving out of an annually or more frequently tested herd must have tested negative to a TB test within 60 days before movement (unless the herd or type of movement meets any of the exemptions).
In Scotland, all cattle 42 days old and over from herds in a two-yearly or more frequent testing area must be pre-movement tested before they move from or enter any Scottish herd. Since 18 May 2023, pre-movement tests must be carried out within 30 days prior to the move. For pre-movement tests carried out before 18 May 2023, animals must have been tested within 60 days prior to the move. Additionally, a short interval test or other skin test undertaken within a TB breakdown herd before its officially TB free status has been reinstated, cannot be used as a pre-movement test for moves to premises in Scotland.
Currently, the only type of test that can be used for pre movement testing is the tuberculin skin test. It is the farmer’s responsibility to book and pay for a pre-movement test with their private vet, although farmers can move cattle that have tested clear at a government funded routine surveillance test e.g. an annual whole herd test. Clear pre-movement test results are valid for 60 days from the date of injection of the skin test, which is day zero of the 60 day period (or 30 day period for moves to Scotland).
Pre-movement testing is a valuable control measure to reduce the risk of introducing bovine TB into cattle herds, but the skin test is not 100% sensitive. Isolation and post-movement testing should also be considered depending on the TB risk of the particular movement.
Calves under 42 days old (i.e. 41 days old or less) are not eligible for pre-movement testing. When calculating the date that a calf becomes eligible for pre-movement testing, the date of birth of the calf is counted as day zero, the day after birth is day one and so on. A worked example is presented below:
A calf is born on 4 May 2018 which is day zero. Day 41 would be 14 June 2018 and this is the last day that the calf could be moved off the holding without a pre-movement test. The calf would become eligible for pre-movement testing on 15 June 2018 (day 42) and would not be permitted to move off the holding without a clear pre-movement test.