Clear tb test – such a relief

We are breathing a huge sigh of relief after our herd passed their TB test.

TB testing is always a nervous time for us as each animal is individually tested for the disease. As we have a herd of 300 cattle it is quite the task.

The test is performed by a vet in the form of a skin test which involves injecting the cow with two different versions of Tuberculin. The animals skin fold is then measured. 3 days later the vet will return to see if the injections have caused a reaction. If a reaction has occurred there will be a lump at the injection site. If a lump is found then the skin fold is remeasured. If the fold measures outside of the acceptable ranges then the animal is deemed a ‘reactor’ and positive for TB.

Once a positive test has been made the vet will attach the ‘green ear tag of doom’ into the cows ear. This makes them identifiable and their details are sent to DEFRA who will arrange transport to slaughter which will happen over the following days. In the meantime that animal will need isolating from the rest of the herd to stop the spread of infection.

Once slaughtered the carcasses are then inspected for TB. But the test isn’t always reliable… On our last test we had two of our breeding cows who tested positive but once slaughtered and inspected no TB was found. This is just the most heartbreaking result especially as they were both in calf and it all feels like such a waste of life.

But this time we can breathe a sigh of relief as everyone was clear and in fact were for once very well behaved!

Over the years we have had many dramas on TB test day from cows jumping out and being on the run to a bull that really wasn’t in the mood so jumped out of the race and was charging around the yard and getting very excitable about his reflection in our bedroom window! I hastened to add this was in our days with Limousin cattle which are well known for their flighty and highly strung antics. Our lovely shorthorns are much more placid, if a little stubborn at times!