Representation and Education

Update to APHA’s Recent Temporary Amendment on TB Testing

After APHA’s announcement last week regarding the temporary amendment in England and Wales to the testing of calves under 180 days of age in OTF herds, we know that many of our members are hearing confusing statements from farmers, so here is a useful summary of some key points from the briefing note;

  • The temporary amendment only applies to Officially TB Free (OTF)  herds subject to routine and some surveillance testing. It does not apply to Check Tests subsequent to a slaughterhouse case, or to Short Interval breakdown testing.
  • The temporary exemption does not apply to calves under 180 days of age that are subject to a Tracer test, need testing for export, that are IR-retests or that require Post Movement testing into the LRA of England or Wales, or into Scotland. 
  • Calves over 42 days of age that are eligible for testing, should still be done IF it is safe to do so, with social distancing in mind. 
  • If young stock up to 180 days of age cannot be tested safely, then they can become exempt from testing, without subjecting the farm to a OTF suspension and movement restriction. This is assuming the cattle over 180 days of age are skin tested clear. 
  • Any eligible calves not tested that subsequently need to move off the farm, will need to undergo a future Premovement test in order to be able to move off the holding, if that movement would normally require it from that region.
  • The submission of tests on SAM that have been carried out with calves exempt for COVID-19 reasons, has special instructions. For calves between 42 and 179 days inclusive, vets should select “not tested” and enter “Advised by APHA not to test” for each animal. The test should then be submitted as a complete test, NOT a part test. This criteria should never be used to submit calves not tested on a Short Interval or Check Test; these need to be sent as a part test if calves have been unable to be tested due to social distancing. More information on these specific case scenarios will follow as soon as it is available. 
  • APHA have given approval that this amendment can be backdated for incomplete tests finished on or after 23rd March 2020, to allow for OTF suspended or withdrawn herds to have their OFT reinstated. This only applies to situations where the youngstock were not tested due to the inability to social distance during testing, and the rest of the cattle over 180 days of age were skin tested clear. Complete the test submission as above, making sure that the TT1 date is the same as the original testing date, and then submit as a complete test. There will no KPI’s applied to the submission under these circumstances. 
  • APHA have also included specific instructions that "if an OV decides that it is safe to skin test groups of eligible calves under 180 days old, then all the eligible calves in that group should be tested” BCVA have worked to clarify the practical meaning of this instruction, and we can report that it refers to an epidemiological management or housed group. So, on farm, if a group of calves in one housing or pen situation can be deemed to be tested safely, then all the calves in that group should be done. It is then appropriate to leave calves untested in a different housing group that cannot be safely tested with social distancing adherence.


We have made some minor changes to the BCVA Flowcharts, to reflect these most recent updates, so download your most recent version here.


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