TB Forgotten but not gone!
TB is a chronic, highly infectious disease of cattle caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium bovis which also can infect and cause disease in many other mammals including humans, deer, goats, pigs, cats and dogs. Ciaran Beatty Teagasc Drystock Advisor, Castlerea advises on preventing TB on farm
TB is still a major problem on Irish farms today. Recent statistics tell us that there has been almost 4,500 herds restricted in the last year with over 21,000 reactors resulting. Traditionally, areas such as the North East and Wicklow were always see as major hotspots of infection however, outbreaks can now be found in every county in the country. Prevention is better that cure when it comes to TB, as it can be a huge health threat to our stock, ourselves and impacts on the economic viablity of the farm.
What simple measures can I take to reduce its spread?
Complete your annual heard test when notified by the Dept. of Agriculture and do not delay it. Ensure that your Vet has good testing facilities with a large crush to this job. Ensure that you have the cattle organised and ready for the Vet prior to their arrival.
Reduce the risk of infection by sourcing cattle from herds which have not had a recent breakdown, also consider buying cattle which have a most recent TB test date as they are less likely to be infected. Asking the seller for a copy of his recent Bovine TB Herd history status would also be very helpful and would further assure the buyer of his purchase. Currently any cattle sold in the marts do not have this status displayed. These herd history reports were the source of much heated debate in the last few months.
Reduce the risk from badgers on your lands by fencing off any setts, do not feed concentrates on the ground and ensure that all water troughs are raised.
Reduce the risk from neighbouring herd owners by ensuring that all fences are stock proof thus preventing any close contact of stock. Pay particular attention to any notifications of local TB outbreaks with adjoining farmers and take any necessary steps to restrict access.
Improve biosecurity on your farm by ensuring that all footbaths are well topped up and located at the primary entrance to your farmyard. Try to disinfect and clean any shared machinery as trial work has indicated that TB can survive in FYM/slurry for months. Contractors also need to be aware of the TB status on farms they are working on as to minimise any future spread. This would be of particular relevance in the spreading of slurry, FYM.
Prevention is way better than cure and it is vital that we minimise the threat to ourselves and our herds.