A new initiative aims to encourage farmers to ask more about the TB status of animals they are buying in order to better protect their herds against a breakdown.
Organisations across the industry are encouraging cattle buyers to share details about the TB status of cattle they are selling and the herd they are selling from - and for buyers to act on that information. When buying privately farmers have always had the ability to ask these questions. And from this autumn, auction markets across the country are helping to gather this information on behalf of clients and display it at sale.
Farmers should be able to see at sale when an animal’s last pre-movement test was carried out, the date of the seller’s last routine herd test and, in the case of herds which have had a TB breakdown in the past, the date on which it was last declared Officially TB Free.
This means farmers will be able to base buying decisions on more information and manage risks. It will also benefit farmers in high risk areas that have managed to keep TB off their farm by helping them get the best price for their cattle.
NFU Vice President Adam Quinney said: “There is wide agreement there needs to be many approaches to tackling bTB, one of which is better information for farmers when they are trading livestock. The key to unlocking this challenge is to empower farmers through better bTB information at the point of sale. The wider benefits of being able to buy and sell stock, knowing the risks, should allow farmers to purchase livestock with more confidence.
“This is only the first step, we now need to make it easier to automatically verify this information from data already held on government computer systems, to tackle how to display the history of an animal's recent TB tests and on movements before sale. We also need to extend this voluntary initiative to all sales across the country.
“I would encourage all farmers to ask more about the cattle they buy in and to talk to their auctioneer to ensure this information is being displayed at their local livestock market. Farmers should also consider how to use other ways to reduce the risk of a TB breakdown for themselves and their neighbors such as Approved Finishing Units."
The attached leaflet shows where farmers can find this information if they are asked for it when selling their animals.
Want to know more about bovine TB, the effect it has on thousands of farming families and the urgent need to control its spread? Visit the TB Free England website
Every cattle farmer knows that the heart of a good business is healthy livestock.
Bringing new animals into the herd has the potential to introduce a variety of health problems and so knowing as much about the history of the cattle you intend to buy, including their disease status and previous vaccinations is vitally important.
This information is also a vitally important element of helping to stem the spread of bovine TB, where the history of TB issues within a herd can vary dramatically across geographical areas and even within statutory testing areas.
Understanding the previous breakdown history of a herd and how recently TB surveillance testing has been carried out in the herd are tools farmers can actively use in the fight against the spread of the disease.