The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has confirmed that it is extending TB testing arrangements introduced in response to the Covid-19 pandemic until June 1st.
It updated its revised Covid-19 protocol on Wednesday (March 3rd).
The department said it “continues to seek to facilitate farmers in continuing efforts to eradicate TB and undertake testing as required, while also facilitating the continuation of animal movements and the continuity of all elements of the food supply chain”.
“The overriding principle in all situations is that the health and safety of farmers, vets, service providers, contractors, other staff and their families is paramount.”
“These arrangements will continue in place until 1st June 2021, subject to review. The COVID-19 situation is evolving. In this context, this guidance may change as a result.”
The department stated it is continuing to support farmers by prioritising the delivery of essential services.
“The Department supports TB testing continuity using safe practices which observe HSE guidelines, to protect trade and minimise TB spread at this time.”
“Those involved in carrying out a TB test should act in accordance with the guidance of the HSE at all times. The department will be guided by the HSE if further actions are required to be taken.”
TB testing flexibilities
Where a herd cannot be TB tested due to COVID-19-related issues, the trading status of the herd will be suspended when becomes overdue for being out of test.
However, a grace period of 28 days from the date on which the herd test becomes due will be applied before this suspension comes into effect, during which the herd can continue trading.
When the suspension is then applied, moves directly to slaughter will still be permitted.
Calves between 42 and 120 days of age should be TB tested only where both the farmer and the vet are satisfied that social distancing can be adhered to.
Specific guidance for private veterinary practitioners (PVPs) and farmers related to COVID19 when TB testing cattle.
- People involved in carrying out a TB test should act in accordance with HSE guidance.
- Before commencing, the PVP should make a plan with the farmer regarding physical distancing.
- Only essential personnel should be present during a TB test. No children or non-essential adults should be present at any time during the test.
- Avoid direct close contact such as handshaking.
- Use outdoor facilities where practicable
- When moving between farms – PVPs should fully and properly disinfect, including hand washing.
- Do not test an animal where the PVP