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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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New approach to inconclusive reactor animals

The Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine has revealed a new approach to inconclusive reactor animals in Ireland.

The changes to the bTB Eradication Strategy regarding inconclusive animals comes following a recent meeting of the implementation working group of the TB Forum.

It was agreed that the TB Forum will consider other potential initiatives regarding inconclusive reactors at a future meeting.

In a statement, a DAFM spokesperson said: “Scientific research shows that cattle, which test inconclusive to the bTB skin test, are at increased risk of becoming reactors at a later date, even after testing negative on a re-test.”

“In that context, they also pose a risk of spreading disease to other cattle within their herd. Currently, in some cases, these animals, after re-testing clear, are kept on farms for extended periods.”

“Whilst not all inconclusive animals progress to being reactors, they do so at such frequency that it is important in the context of protecting individual herds and for the success of the programme to intervene to reduce this risk.”

The new approach is designed to “reduce the risk from these inconclusive animals”.

The specific actions include:
  • Increasing the time between the first skin test where inconclusive reactors are found and the re-test. This will help to increase the possibility that all infected animals are found on the re-retest.
  • Blood testing by the Department of the inconclusive reactors within 30 days after the first skin test where they have been found. This will also help to ensure all infected animals are found.
  • Carrying out blood tests by the Department every 6 months on inconclusive animals that pass the skin re-test and the first blood test.
  • If these animals ever test inconclusive again at a future test, they will be removed as reactors.
  • Where a herd has a bTB breakdown and it already has some historical old inconclusive animals, these will be removed as reactors with full compensation.
  • If four or more new inconclusive reactors are disclosed at a test, without any other reactors, they will be made reactor and removed with full compensation.
  • In cases where you have one or more reactors on a test, other inconclusive reactors on the test will be made reactor and removed from the herd with full compensation.
  • In the past, some herds were able to sell animals while the inconclusive animal was awaiting a re-test. Under new EU rules, any herd with an inconclusive reactor will be restricted and will remain restricted until the inconclusive animal re-tests clear or is slaughtered. It will still be possible to move animals directly for slaughter.

“DAFM will continue to give advice to farmers about these inconclusive animals. Farmers can then make an informed decision about whether to keep them or not.” the spokesperson concluded.


Ireland’s increasing populations of Sika deer may be linked to local outbreaks of TB infection in cattle, new research suggests.

The research, conducted by researchers from Trinity College Dublin and the National Parks and Wildlife Service and supported by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, has major implications for controlling TB.

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