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Changes to TB Test Rules on cattle being accepted at Slaughter Premises

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Brendan Smith TD, today announced that he was amending the arrangements on TB testing for cattle going direct to slaughter. The new arrangements will come into effect on 4 May.

Announcing this decision, the Minister said that, heretofore, animals not tested within the previous 12 months and presented for slaughter were returned to the farm of origin. The rules are being changed such that cattle would now be accepted by slaughter plants provided that the herd had been tested in the previous 12 months and the animals were otherwise compliant with legislative requirements relating to animal identification and restriction notices. He said he had made this decision following a review of the current arrangements and in consultation with the European Commission. The Minister said that this change would reduce the cost of testing these cattle and would be extremely beneficial to many farmers.

Explaining the change, Minister Smith said that, while no change is being made to the general rule that all animals in a herd must be tested every 12 months, the rule that requires out of test animals to be rejected at slaughter is no longer critical to ensuring that all herds are tested yearly and that all animals are presented for test. This is the case because of the further development and linkage of the Department's AIM (Animal identification and Movement) and AHCS (Animal Health Computer System) control systems. In addition, the risk of onward spread of disease from animals going direct to slaughter is relatively low if the herd has been tested within the previous 12 months and a high proportion of the animals in the herd are in test. He advised farmers, however, that herds sending out of test animals to slaughter would be restricted from general trade if more than 20% of animals in the herd were found to be out of test (even if the herd itself had been tested within the previous 12 months). He also emphasised that the permit rules for movement of any animals out of restricted herds, including to slaughter, continue to apply.

In addition to the change in arrangements regarding animals sent for slaughter, the Minister said that his Department intends to enhance the controls in place for herds selected for testing under the contiguous testing programme.

Concluding, Minister Smith reminded farmers of the need to test their herds annually and to adopt appropriate biosecurity measures to minimise disease spread, particularly in relation to badgers, and including testing promptly as and when required in order to reduce the risk of an outbreak of TB in their herds.

Note for Editors

The details of the changes are as follows:

Non-Feedlot herds

Where animals that have not been tested in the previous 12 months are presented to slaughter plants, the following rules will apply:

(a) if tested within 18 months and if coming from a herd that is in test and in which less than 20% of the animals are untested in the previous 12 months, the animals will be slaughtered and a warning letter will issue to the keeper;

(b) if tested within 18 months and if coming from a herd that is in test and in which more than 20% of animals are untested in the previous 12 months, the animal(s) will be slaughtered and the herd will be trade restricted for inward movement and outward movement, other than to slaughter, the permission to slaughter being revoked at the time the next scheduled herd test falls over due;

(c) if tested within 18 months and if coming from a herd that has not been tested within the previous 12 months, the animal will be slaughtered but an automatic trade restriction on inward and outward movement, including to slaughter, will be imposed on the herd until it has been tested; and

(d) if untested for more than 18 months, the animal will be slaughtered and a full trade restriction will be imposed on the herd until the entire herd is tested, regardless of whether the herd is in test and regardless of the percentage of animals not tested within the previous 12 months.

Feedlot herds

Feedlot herds, which do not sell animals on the open market, will be permitted to send animals direct to slaughter until the next scheduled herd test is overdue, based on the arrangements and conditions agreed with feedlot owners at regional office level.

Date Released: 28 April 2010