Current evidence is suggesting that there is a continual spread of bovine TB towards the north and east of England. To keep ahead of this ‘disease front’ it has been decided to expand the core annual testing areas to include those areas which although are not high risk for TB at present, are just ahead of the advancing front. TB testing intervals will be determined on a county basis, rather than parish.

This move is also being made to ensure we are compliant with EU law, and secure much needed EU co-financing of the TB eradication plan.

TB Testing

Since 1 Jan 2013 England has been divided into 2 TB testing frequency areas as follows:

  • An annual testing area in the south west and west of the country, and in East Sussex. In these areas the disease is either endemic, or the area is adjacent to a high TB area.
  • A four yearly testing area for the rest of the country. In these areas TB incidence is only sporadic, and primarily linked to cattle movements from endemic disease.

Herds within a 3km radius of a TB breakdown, within the four yearly testing area, will have an immediate skin test, followed by a further test after 6 months and, if results are negative, another one in 12 months. During this period cattle moved out of the herd will need to have had a clear pre-movement test within the 60 days preceding the movement. A clear routine TB test can be used as a pre-movement test.

Individual high risk cattle herds within the 4 yearly testing area will also be tested annually. These herds will tend to be carrying out certain management factors which increase risks, such as:

  • Hiring bulls
  • Rearing Heifers
  • Producing raw milk for retail
  • Regularly purchasing animals from high incidence areas

You should have received a letter from AHVLA in December to tell you what your Testing Interval and Herd Testing Interval will be.

What impact does this change have on farmers?

Some herds will be tested more frequently than others. It is suggested that in the event of a TB breakdown, herds in the 4 yearly testing area that are close to the TB breakdown will return quicker to the 4 year frequency than under the old parish based system.

It is likely that these testing frequencies should remain stable for several years, but this will depend upon the spread (or not) of the disease.

Pre Movement Testing

Cattle moved from herds in the annual testing areas are required to do pre-movement testing, as are cattle from high risk herds in the 4 yearly testing areas.

Cattle Tracing System (CTS) Links

As now, holdings in the annual testing area will not be able to apply for CTS links to holdings in the 4 yearly testing area. Pre-existing links between these areas will be phased out during this year.

Existing CTS links between holdings on the same testing frequency will not be affected.

Without the links, cattle can still be moved between the holdings, but they need to be reported and pre-movement testing done when appropriate.

Currently there are 2 options if you have stock on rented grazing:

  • Keepership changes – the landlord agrees to become the registered keeper of the animals whilst they are on his holding. The landlord needs to be registered with BCMS, all movements reported to BCMS, and all standstill and pre movement TB testing done as required. Please note if the landlord claims SPS they must ensure they comply with regulations and Cross Compliance otherwise they may get a reduction in their SPS payment.
  • Secure a temporary CPH for the land. You can have as many of these as you require, on as many holdings, and they do not have to include the entire area of the landlord’s farm.

However, you do need to check with AHVLA that there are no special requirements on either your farm, or the landlord’s farm, to prevent such an application being refused (something that would alter the risk status of either farm).

To get a temporary CPH you need to contact the RPA at least 10 working days before you wish to move the animals – but in spring demand will be high so we advise you to do it as soon as possible.

Sole Occupation Authority (SOA)

You still cannot apply for a new SOA or add further holdings to your existing SOA.

The exemption from pre-movement testing for movements between holdings in SOAs which have premises in both high and low risk areas is no longer available. But movements within a SOA that only includes premises in the same TB risk are exempted from pre-movement testing.


Restocking of officially TB free status suspended herds is only permitted after the herds first post-breakdown test (after the reactors have been removed), and subject to a satisfactory veterinary risk assessment by AHVLA.

Movements of Cattle from TB Restricted Herds

The window for movements of cattle from herds under TB movement restrictions to other TB restricted herds is reduced from 60 days to 30 days from the day of their last TB skin test with negative results.

TB affected farm businesses will still be able to sell cattle at TB restricted sales, but these cattle will have to go either directly to slaughter, or to an Approved Finishing Unit i.e. are no longer permitted to move to another holding from the restricted sale.

Movements to slaughter, directly or via an AFU, will continue to be permitted within 90 days of a test with negative results.

Movements to TB restricted sales will continue to be permitted within 90 days of a test with negative results.

Contact your local AHVLA office for further advice on planned movements from TB restricted herds.

Note that the change applies only to certain movements from TB restricted herds. The policy change does not apply to cattle moved from TB restricted herds to slaughter, either directly, via an AFU, or via a TB restricted ‘orange’ sale. The window for such movements is 90 days after a clear test.

Approved Quarantine Units (AQU)

The current moratorium on new AQUs continues, and existing AQUs will be phased out – from 1st Jan 2013 current AQUs will not be allowed to restock.

If you operate an AQU and the calves you purchase are only moved to slaughter (direct or via an AFU) you could consider applying for your unit to be re-registered by AHVLA as a ‘Rearing’ AFU.

Approved Finishing Units (AFU)

Sanctions against operators that breach operating conditions will be reviewed on a case by case basis, with the licence being removed for serious breaches.