Sunday, October 03, 2004

Tb testing - Kiwi style

Following "UK way behind NZ on tb control, and "Tuberculosis and the ......" (archived on this site), our correspondent in NZ has sent us a his work sheet for last week.

John is a lay tester, an idea Defra have been floating here. This task is vehemently defended by some vets - Mr. Sibley for example. But is there much job satisfaction in sticking needles in a cow's neck, then following it up with a 007 license to a devastated farmer?

Last week, John tells us, he and 10 other testers moved into an infected herd which wanted to move 700 (yes - you did read that right! Seven Hundred) cattle to 'kinder' pastures for fattening. The cattle had been skin tested with just one jab in the caudal fold (no avian tb in NZ, so no comparison avian jab is needed) and the lay testers were taking bloods to make sure there were no 'sleepers'. These are cattle which have had exposure to tb infection in the 30 -50 days prior to their skin test, and which that current skin test may not show. If the bloods are clear then the cattle will be tagged with AHB ( Animal Health Board) tags to show they had come from an infected herd and moved.

It took the 11 lay testers just 4 hours to take bloods from the 700 cattle, using 3 races.
Two of the races took 10 animals at a time, and the third 16, with three groups of 3 testers working on each and 2 people recording ear numbers.

At the end of October, John is testing cattle on a dairy farm, which under OIE trading rules needs 2 clear skin tests to be released from movement restriction. He has told us that he can test up to 2000 cattle per day.

That's a lot of cattle folks.

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