Animal Health & Welfare

Bovine tuberculosis

In the guide

This guidance is for Wales

Under the Tuberculosis (Wales) Order 2010 all cattle on farms are required by the Welsh government to be subject to a routine annual bovine tuberculosis (bTB) test, and to pre and post-movement testing where applicable.

General rules

All cattle on farms are subject to routine testing for bTB on an annual basis.

From 1 October 2017, the Welsh government is implementing a regional approach to bTB eradication across Wales, with the introduction of 'low', 'intermediate' and 'high' bTB areas. You can find out which bTB area your holding is located in on the Welsh government's Lle website.

The location of your holding will determine whether pre and/or post-movement (PrMT and PoMT) bTB testing is required - for example, bTB pre-movement testing is not required for movements between holdings situated in the low bTB area; cattle in Wales require a post-movement test when they are moved from the intermediate or high bTB areas in Wales (or from England's 'edge area' or 'high risk area', or Northern Ireland) into the low bTB area.

The table below, created by the Welsh government, shows when a pre and/or post-movement test is required.

Move from Move to PrMT PoMT
low (Wales) low (Wales) no no
intermediate (Wales) low (Wales) yes yes
high (Wales) low (Wales) yes yes
low (England) low (Wales) no no
edge (England) low (Wales) yes yes
high (England) low (Wales) yes yes
Scotland low (Wales) no no
low (Wales) intermediate (Wales) no no
intermediate (Wales) intermediate (Wales) yes no
high (Wales) intermediate (Wales) yes no
low (England) intermediate (Wales) no no
edge (England) intermediate (Wales) yes no
high (England) intermediate (Wales) yes no
Scotland intermediate (Wales) no no
low (Wales) high (Wales) no no
intermediate (Wales) high (Wales) yes no
high (Wales) high (Wales) yes no
low (England) high (Wales) no no
edge (England) high (Wales) yes no
high (England) high (Wales) yes no
Scotland high (Wales) no no

Post-movement testing of cattle can only be undertaken between 60-120 days after arrival on your holding. The cattle may not move off your holding before this period and until tested negative for bTB by an inspector or one of the exemptions outlined below is met. 

Post-movement testing is not required for cattle coming from herds participating in the Cattle Health Certification Standards (CHeCS) TB programme and classified as level 10. 

A 'frequently asked questions' document is available on the Welsh government website.

Moving to grass keep will involve a movement and reporting to other premises and possibly a veterinary risk assessment. Pre and post-movement testing may be required depending on which bTB area you are located in. 

Your annual bTB test also counts as a pre-movement test.

Exemptions to the rules

Permitted movements without pre-movement testing:

  • movement to slaughter
  • movement to slaughter markets
  • movement to markets, provided that the animal is returned direct to its premises of origin if not sold, or if it is a movement to market approved by the Welsh Ministers
  • movement to collection centres
  • movement to exempt finishing units
  • movement to approved finishing units
  • movement to agricultural shows that do not involve a stay of more than 24 hours or housing of that animal at the showground, provided that the animal either goes directly from the show to slaughter or is returned directly to its premises of origin after the show
  • movement within or from the low bTB area unless the bovine animal is in any of the following:
    - a restricted herd
    - a licensed finishing unit
    - a herd that has had tuberculosis-free status for less than 18 months
    - a herd on premises that borders other premises where the herd is a restricted herd
  • calves that are less than 42 days old at the date of the movement
  • the movement of cattle to a place for veterinary treatment, provided they are returned direct to the premises of origin after treatment, or killed or go direct to slaughter
  • any movement that is approved by the Welsh Ministers

Permitted movements without post-movement testing:

  • movement to slaughter
  • movement to slaughter markets 
  • movement to exempt finishing units
  • movement to approved finishing units
  • movement to licensed finishing units
  • movement of a bovine animal to an agricultural show in the low TB area, or a return to the low TB area from an agricultural show outside the low TB area, provided that both of the following apply:
    - the move does not involve a stay of more than 24 hours or the housing of that animal at the showground
    - the animal either goes directly from the show to slaughter or is returned directly to its premises of origin after the show
  • movement from the low risk area in England to the low TB area
  • the movement of cattle to a place for veterinary treatment, provided they are returned direct to the premises of origin after treatment, or killed or go direct to slaughter
  • any movement that is approved by the Welsh Ministers

bTB testing

The Welsh Ministers can serve a notice on the keeper of bovine animals requiring the animals to be tested for bTB by a certain date. The keeper must provide all reasonable help to the inspector to facilitate the following:

  • identification and examination of that animal by the inspector
  • penning and securing of any animals
  • application or the reading of any relevant test
  • valuation of the animal where the animal is intended to be slaughtered
  • removal of the animal to slaughter

If the keeper fails to have an animal tested for bTB as directed, the Welsh Ministers may serve a notice prohibiting the movement of bovine animals on and off the holding except under licence by an inspector until the test has been completed.

In certain circumstances the Welsh Ministers may take any necessary steps to facilitate the examination, testing, valuation and removal of animals if the keeper does not test for bTB when directed to do so, and recover the amount of any expenses incurred from the keeper.

If the keeper fails to have animals tested for bTB because the animals are too wild to gather, or the nature of the terrain makes it difficult to gather the animals safely, then the animals shall be treated as being affected with bTB and disposed of.

bTB test records

As soon as practicable after the results of the test have been read by an inspector, the keeper of the animals must be given a written record of the results.

The keeper of any animal that has been bTB tested must:

  • retain the records of the results of the test for three years and 60 days from the date of the injection of tuberculin
  • produce such records when requested by an inspector
  • enter the test details into the farm veterinary medicine record

Farmers are advised to take a copy of the clear results of the test with them when presenting cattle moved off a farm for sale at market.

Alternatively, keepers may now voluntarily use the new bTB passport sticker scheme whereby the farmer is provided with a sticker for each clear-tested animal. This sticker needs to be placed in the passport and completed with the following information before being moved from the holding:

  • day one of the bTB test
  • keeper's signature
  • the name of the veterinary practice that conducted the test

Cost of testing

Herd owners are now expected to cover the costs of the approved veterinary inspector's time to carry out pre and post-movement tests.

Penalties

Failure to comply with this legislation is an offence against the Animal Health Act 1981. The maximum penalty is a fine and two years' imprisonment.

Further reading

Further information on bTB can be found on the GOV.UK website, including specific information on pre and post-movement testing.

Key legislation

Last reviewed / updated: October 2017

PixelPlease note

This information is intended for guidance; only the courts can give an authoritative interpretation of the law.

The guide's 'Key legislation' links may only show the original version of the legislation, although some amending legislation is linked to separately where it is directly related to the content of a guide. Information on amendments to UK legislation can be found on each link's 'More Resources' tab; amendments to EU legislation are usually incorporated into the text.

© 2017 itsa Ltd.

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