Back in early December, some English cattle farmers would have received a missive from Animal Health explaining that 'in Wales', things were changing. And?
As we are not in Wales at blogger HQ, we shredded it. Nothing has been sent to English farmers yet, but Farmers Guardian has details of the changes.
The main difference is not terminology at all, but the implications of a confirmed breakdown on future problems in a herd and more importantly on any breakdowns in the herds of 'contiguous' neighbours.
Herds not under TB restriction will be known as OTF or Officially TB free. If a breakdown occurs which cannot be confirmed by either lesions or culture, then that status is suspended (OTFS) but if TB is confirmed then status becomes withdrawn (OTFW).
In England and Wales, to regain OTF status herds designated as OTFS will require one clear short interval test and this was the testing situation prior to Jan 1st 2011.
But from now on things change:
However, if either of the following circumstances applies, two consecutive tests will generally be needed:
* The herd has had OTFW status in the three years prior to the current breakdown, or;
* The herd is contiguous to another which currently has OTFW status. This will not however be changed retrospectively if contiguous herds subsequently have their OTF status withdrawn
And it is those changes, but particularly the latter, which will have a far greater impact on testing regimes than has been realised. Like a ripple in a pond, any neighbour of a herd which has had TB confirmed and status withdrawn, will adopt that status (or the testing regime that accompanies it) if there is a breakdown in his herd - regardless of post mortem results. And that could involve several farms in a 'ripple' generated from a confirmed outbreak.
Meanwhile, Animal Health have just retrieved short interval TB testing from LVI vets, with herds between 100 and 250 animals having the benefit of a Defra vet to test cattle. Just how they are going to cope with Treasury budget cuts, extra paperwork and now extra short interval testing this will generate, is up for discussion.
Meanwhile we have a feeling of deja vu as this year begins.
In the 5 years since Defra's last 'consultation' on whether or not to remove badgers infected with tuberculosis, 250,000 cattle have been shot, not a single TB riddled badger apprehended but the industry face another raft of new cattle restrictions.
A very Happy New year.
We are hearing from LVI vets up and down the country, that many have been hauled back into short interval TB testing due to injuries sustained by AHO desk jockeys. Some of these people are good with cattle, but many may be more used to handling a computer mouse, than a ton of angry cow.
And this change in TB 'terminology' - which is not that at all - is still generating much discussion as to how it may be implemented in practise. Will it be 'contiguous' as in neighbouring holdings on a parish map? Or 'contiguous' areas where cattle have grazed, and when they grazed? We understand that this is still very much work in progress. And we think this could generate quite a discussion at the coal face, as to exactly what herd restrictions may follow a new breakdown.
And English farmers have still to receive formal notification from Defra, of any changes to its policy at all.