The decision by Welsh Government to exempt cattle under 180 days of age from routine or targeted surveillance bovine TB testing in unrestricted herds has been welcomed by the Farmers’ Union of Wales as a pragmatic approach to the current pandemic.
Under the derogation, movement restrictions will not be placed on OTF herds if cattle under 180 days are left untested because the vet has judged that testing cannot be conducted in line with current COVID-19 social distancing guidelines.
FUW Senior Policy Officer Dr Hazel Wright, said: “The FUW is pleased that the Welsh Government has listened to our concerns about undertaking TB testing of youngstock during the pandemic. We continue to stress that many of our farmer members are in the covid-19 high risk category due to their age and it is therefore important that the rules around TB testing do not risk the health of our key workers producing food during this pandemic.
“It is extremely difficult to maintain social distancing rules when testing young calves for bovine TB and this derogation is therefore extremely welcome. It will come as a huge relief to those farmers facing the conflict of adhering to TB rules whilst also trying to adhere to social distancing rules and protect themselves and their family from illness.”
The temporary exemption will be kept under regular review while the social distancing measures related to the COVID-19 outbreak are in force and applies retrospectively from the 23rd of March 2020 until further notice.
“Many within the livestock sector have been placed under immense financial and emotional pressure and derogations which prioritise farmer health and well-being must be welcomed,” added Dr Wright.