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New Zealand updates TB Testing Program

27 December 2020

Starting February 9, 2021, OSPRI is managing New Zealand's TB eradication through an updated testing programme, placing greater focus on higher risk areas while maintaining nationwide disease surveillance

What is changing?

The frequency of on-farm testing will change for some farmers based on different levels of risk. It means increasing testing where the risk is higher and testing less often where the risk is low, in areas with no possum related risk.

How does it work?

TB surveillance is undertaken through on-farm testing, carcase inspection, and at meat processing plants. The TB testing programme tests animals according to the potential risk of infection. Risk factors include:

  1. Herd infection history
  2. Proximity to possum infection risk
  3. Sources of livestock movements into herds.

OSPRI uses this information to determine what animals should be tested, where and when. It also enables us to track the movement of animals with different risk levels. This approach to testing makes more efficient use of the wider industry’s investment of farmer levies in the TB programme

Why is this happening now?

OSPRI has piloted this approach to testing for deer herds since 2018. It is a natural progression as our TB eradication programme reduces the number of infected herds, so a broad testing programme is no longer the most efficient method of detecting TB infection. It makes more sense to focus resources in the area where the risk is higher. Improved animal traceability, through farmers engaging more with NAIT, means we can better track animals with a higher disease risk, and test less often in low risk areas.

When do the changes come in?

Changes to the testing frequency will be rolled out in areas of lowest risk (herds currently tested every three years in Vector Free Areas) from 9 February 2021.

What does it mean for beef or dairy farmers?

For beef and dairy farmers in low-risk surveillance areas, the changes will result in less frequent testing for herds. Your TB tester will contact you in advance of your next TB test. Additional on-farm testing may be required if animals entering your herd originated from a C1 (previously infected) status herd.

What about deer farmers?

Deer herds in lower risk areas, currently tested every three years, will no longer be tested on-farm but will be monitored through meat processing plant inspection.

If there is less testing, isn’t there a risk of TB reoccurring in wildlife and herds?

The risk of TB reoccurring in your region is managed in a number of ways, including possum control in risk areas, tracking and testing stock moving from higher risk herds to lower risk herds, and identifying any infections early to limit the spread.

How are high risk movements tracked?

If you purchase an animal from C1 status herds (previously infected) after 9 February 2021, it may result in additional testing for your herd. These movements will be recorded in NAIT and will require a permit.

Are there any new Movement Control Areas (MCAs)?

A new Movement Control Area has been created at Hari Hari on the West Coast. This follows a number of local herds and wildlife being found to be infected.

What else is OSPRI doing to keep farmers and testers informed?

OSPRI has notified the TB testing agency AsureQuality (AQ) about the changes starting from February 2021. It is not expected to have any immediate impacts on farmers or daily activities at the farmgate.

OSPRI is a partnership between primary industries and the government, and manages two national programmes – NAIT and TBfree. NAIT provides the national animal identification and traceability system and TBfree aims to eradicate bovine TB from New Zealand.

TheCattleSite News Desk


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