Bovine TB: Pre-movement testing in England
It is a statutory requirement that all cattle over 42 days old moving from a 1 or 2 yearly tested herd must have tested negative to a TB test within 60 days prior to movement unless the herd or movement meets an exemption. Information on exemptions from pre-movement testing requirements can be found in the booklet below or by contacting your local Animal Health Divisional Office (AHDO).
All pre-movement tests must be arranged and paid for by the herd owner. However, routine bTB surveillance tests paid for by the Government qualify as pre-movement tests, if animals are moved within 60 days after that test. Herd owners can ask for additional animals to be included in their routine herd test if they wish to move those animals within 60 days of this test.
Herd owners are advised to think ahead about when they plan to move cattle and give their Local Veterinary Practice plenty of notice so that they get their TB pre-movement test done when they need it.
Herd owners must also remember that the TB pre-movement testing rules apply to cattle movements to and from both grass keep and linked holdings, unless the herd or movement is exempt.
Monitoring the impacts of pre-movement testing is ongoing and key statistics are updated monthly.New TB incidents are being prevented by pre-movement tests as well as Government funded routine surveillance tests. We are also picking up infection earlier in high risk herds.
Voluntary post-movement testing of animals in addition to pre-movement testing will reduce still further the risk of spread of the disease and is recommended as best practice.
A review of pre-movement testing will be carried out following the period of peak cattle movements in Autumn 2008. By then, a full year of normal trading data should be available to assess. Given the disruption to business practices and cattle movements as a result of various disease outbreaks in Autumn 2007, it would have been impossible to carry out a meaningful review of the policy in March 2008 as originally planned.
Options available to alleviate the practical impacts of pre-movement testing
Subject to complying with the 6-day standstill rules there is a provision, by going through an exempt market, for selling animals from 1 or 2 yearly tested herds that have not been pre-movement tested when they normally should have been. Market operators may also accept other cattle into an Exempt Market if they wish. However, onward movement from exempt markets is restricted to direct to slaughter, an approved finishing unit, an exempt finishing unit or back to the premises of origin – except for cattle from 3 or 4 yearly tested herds which are not permitted to return to the premises of origin. More information on exemptions from pre-movement testing requirements can be found in the booklet below or by contacting your local Animal Health Divisional Office (AHDO).
Market operators can find out more information on gaining approval to run an exempt market by contacting their local AHDO. A list of some of the exempt markets in England and Wales is available on the Animal Health (formerly SVS) website.
Exempt Finishing Units (EFU)
Exempt Finishing Units provide a route for moving cattle that normally should have been pre-movement tested, without being tested. They enable beef producers to finish animals without the need to pre-movement test. However, EFU operators may accept other cattle into the EFU if they wish. Onward movements are restricted to slaughter.
Approved Finishing Units (AFU)
Approved Finishing Units can accept clear tested cattle, moved under licence, from herds with a breakdown. These can be used to overcome animal health and welfare issues that can arise when premises are subject to movement restrictions due to TB breakdowns.
The pre-movement testing guidance booklet: TB in Cattle - Reducing the Risk: Pre- and Post- Movement Testing in Great Britain (267 KB) explains the requirements for pre-movement testing. A Welsh version (253 KB) is also available.
Copies of the booklet can be obtained from Defra Publications, Admail 6000, London, SW1A 2XX. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Phone: 08459 556000. Please quote the publication reference number - PB12494 when calling.
A leaflet (282 KB) with key messages and a decision tree to help explain whether you need to pre-movement test your cattle is available.
Pre-movement testing in Wales
Welsh herd owners must pre-movement test all cattle over 42 days old moving out of 1 or 2 yearly tested herd within 60 days prior to movement, unless the herd or the movement is exempt. Further information is available on the Welsh Assembly Government website.
Pre- and post- movement testing in Scotland
Scottish herd owners must ensure all cattle over 42 days old, originating from 1 or 2 yearly testing parishes are pre-movement tested before they move from or enter any Scottish herd. Assuming that the required pre-movement testing has been done, keepers in Scotland need to make arrangements to conduct post-movement testing of these cattle 60-120 days after they arrived on their holding. Further information is available on the Scottish Government website.
Background to movement testing
Cattle to cattle transmission is a serious cause of disease spread which is substantiated by scientific evidence (42 KB). Ascertaining the disease status of an animal prior to movement using the tuberculin skin test and only permitting movement of those that test clear (i.e. disease is not detected) will reduce the number of cattle with bTB that are moved within the country and in turn the risk of disease spread.
The Government strategic framework for the sustainable control for bovine tuberculosis (bTB) in Great Britain includes a commitment to introduce a statutory requirement to test cattle for bovine TB prior to movement. The measure is a key means of maintaining the disease free status of areas currently free of bTB.
Pre-movement testing is a single policy that was introduced in two phases to allow time for herd owners and Local Veterinary Practices to adjust to the new requirements. Phase one was introduced in England on 27 March 2006 and applied to all cattle over 15 months of age. Phase two was rolled out on 1 March 2007 and extended pre-movement testing to younger animals. A news release was issued as both phase one and phase two of the policy began.
The veterinary capacity to meet the demand for pre-movement testing all eligible cattle over 42 days of age was reviewed by independent consultants. The review found that most Official Veterinarians felt they would be able to respond to and meet the expected demand for testing. The full report (201 KB) is available.
The extension of pre-movement testing was discussed by the Ministerial Challenge Panel on Regulation (MCPR) on 23 January 2007. The Panel agreed in light of the available evidence (including a Qualitative Veterinary Risk Assessment (266 KB) and Detailed epidemiological analyses (107 KB), that the extension to cattle over 42 days old should proceed as planned and that a formal review would be conducted in March 2008. Phase 2 of pre-movement testing was introduced on 1 March 2007.
Page last modified:
15 September, 2008