The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has issued an update on its revised Covid-19 TB testing protocol during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
It confirmed today (Monday, May 10th) that these arrangements will remain in place until August 1st, 2021.
It is advising those involved in carrying out a TB test are advised to act in accordance with HSE guidance.
- Before commencing, the PVP should plan with the farmer regarding physical distancing. This can include greater use of a head restraining gate or a longer guide stick to help to raise head. It should include discussion of the use of face coverings based on HSE guidance;
- Only essential personnel should be allowed to be present during a TB test. No children or non-essential adults should be present at any time during the test;
- Also, avoid direct close contact such as hand shaking.
- 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 or farmer form the opinion that social distancing guidelines cannot be complied with.
TB testing calves
Calves under 120 days of age at the start of the TB test should be tested only where both the farmer and the vet are satisfied that social distancing can be adhered to.
“Due to the challenges of performing a TB test on very young calves while maintaining compliance with social distancing guidelines, calves aged between 42 and 120 days at the first day of the TB test should be tested only where both the farmer and the vet are satisfied that social distancing can be adhered to.”
“If calves under 120 days are not tested, they will be eligible for movement once the herd retains its free status, until they reach 120 days of age.”
This exemption will commence from October 27th, 2020 and will apply until August 1st, 2021.
This exemption does not apply to reactor retests, nor to the requirements for TB testing for export.
Where a calf aged under 120 days is intended for export, the requirement for a 30-day pre-export TB test remains in place for calves >42 days of age. (Note: no pre-export TB test is required if the calf is under 42 days of age.)
Calves aged over 120 days must have passed a TB test to move out of the herd. If a calf was not tested during a herd test due to being aged 42-120 days, when it goes above 120 days, a private TB test will be required to enable it to move.
Suspending herd’s trading status
Furthermore, the DAFM will suspend a herd’s trading status when it becomes overdue for being out of test.
This suspension will be applied after a 28-day grace period from the due date, during which the herd can continue to trade.
When the suspension is then applied, moves directly to slaughter will still be permitted.
The farmer should not be required to present the cattle for testing himself/herself.
If possible, alternative arrangements should be made so that someone else can assist with the TB test on his/her behalf. If this is not possible, the RVO should be informed, and the test can be delayed.
The herd will have its trading status suspended when it becomes overdue for being out of test. This suspension will be applied after a 28-day grace period from the due date, during which the herd can continue to trade. When the suspension is then applied, moves directly to slaughter will still be permitted.
If a TB test is delayed due to COVID19 related issues, it “will not be a basis for referring the farmer for possible cross-compliance action”.
If the delayed test is a DAFM-paid test, a delay due to COVID19 will not be grounds to make it a farmer-paid test, the DAFM added.
If it is not possible to test every animal while observing the appropriate social distance:
The PVP should submit the test report with untested animals accompanied by the note ‘unable to restrain’.
“Where there are untested animals aged over 120 days which ought normally to have been tested, the RVO will suspend the herd and list a Miscellaneous Animal Test to the testing vet/practice.”
“The vet can then make arrangements to test the remaining cattle when adequate restraint to allow social distancing has been provided.”
“This may involve the use of a pen with a restraining headgate. Such arrangements may be made for calves under 120 days of age in reactor herds.”