Farm Factsheets

At Bredy Vets, we’ve collated a range of information which you may find useful. Please review our factsheets below and let us know if you have any questions. We’re always on hand to help.

Six Monthly TB Testing for Cattle: Update 5th August 2021

Farm clients will have received letters from APHA advising them that from 1st July 2021, their cattle herds will be TB tested every six-months, unless they can meet either of the following criteria:

  1. “the herd has been in existence for at least six years, and has not had a TB breakdown in that six-year period, (including breakdowns where no lesion and/or culture positive animals were disclosed).  A single break from keeping cattle of less than four months during the six-year period is permitted.  Additionally, breaks of less than one month are permitted to account for “all-in, all-out systems”,
  2. the herd is participating in a bovine TB health scheme licensed by the Cattle Health Certification Standards (CHECS) and has a score of level 1 or above.  Please note that this does not include CHECS TB entry level membership.”

So, if your herd has had a reactor found on the skin test, the only way you can become eligible for testing annually, (rather than every 6mths), is to join a CHECS scheme.

We recommend our farm clients join the Premium Cattle Health Scheme.  You can find their application form here.

Though the letter from APHA apparently precludes CHECS TB Entry Level Membership, farmers will have to successfully complete the Entry Level Membership, before they can gain an accredited CHECS TB score of 1 or more.

Milking Cow Tube Availability Update August 2021

Note that 2 of the 8 products available (i.e. Pathocef™ & aCobactan MC Intramammary Suspension™ are defined as a Highest Priority Critically Important Antibiotics for human medicine and, under the Red Tractor farm assurance scheme for beef and dairy, should be used as a last resort and supported by sensitivity and/or diagnostic testing.  They cannot therefore be used as first line treatments.

For more information click here.

DEFRA & Other Statutory Tests: TB, Anthrax & Abortions

The whole of our practice area is now subject to annual TB testing. We also carry out pre-movement tests, often at very short notice – though it is helpful to have some warning. The South West TB Farm Advisory Service is a service available for farmers – please go direct to their website for further information:

Farmers should report sudden deaths in cattle and pigs to us because DEFRA may want to carry out an Anthrax test.

Farmers should also report abortions in cattle to us. DEFRA has a duty to carry out Brucellosis surveillance, and this means the ministry are especially interested in abortions in dairy heifers and beef cattle. To quote from their website: –

“Reporting abortions and early calvings”

The law requires cattle keepers to report every abortion or premature calving to an appropriate officer (a Veterinary Inspector) (that’ll be us) as required by Article 10 of the Brucellosis (England) Order 2000, Brucellosis (Scotland) Order 2000 and its equivalent in Wales. An abortion or premature calving is defined as “an abortion or calving which takes place less than 271 days after service, or 265 days after implantation or transfer of an embryo, whether the calf is born dead or alive”.

Use of Gamma Interferon Test by APHA following a failed TB skin test

Since 1st April 2017, gamma testing is also compulsory for TB breakdowns with lesion and/or culture positive animals in the High Risk Area (HRA) of England where any of the following three criteria are met;

Criterion 1: The APHA veterinary investigation concludes that the most likely transmission route for the affected herd was contact with infected cattle and measures are in place to prevent further spread of disease from this source;

Criterion 2: The infected herd is located in one of the areas where at least two years of effective licensed badger population control have been completed;

Criterion 3: There is clear evidence that repeated skin testing of the herd has failed to resolve a TB breakdown

Bredy Vets have not had any client’s animals subjected to TB testing as yet, but criterion 2 is likely to affect our clients in the near future. Where practical, gamma testing is completed before the first Short Interval Test (SIT) in new TB breakdowns. If the gamma test is carried out at the same time as the skin test, the blood sample is taken before the injections of tuberculin on day 1 of the test (TT1) or after the reading of the skin test on day 2 of the test (TT2). More information here

Changes in Management of “Resolved” IR’s October 2017

“Resolved” IR’s are those which pass at a 2nd TB test. These animals are now to be kept restricted for the rest of their life to the holding in which they were found. The only permitted off movements for such animals will be to slaughter either directly or via an Approved Finishing Unit (AFU) under a licence issued by APHA.

Reported Changes in TB Testing Frequency, January 2018

Many clients have been alarmed recently by reports in the farming press that the High Risk Area, (i.e. including Dorset) will be subject to 6 monthly testing. These reports in fact referred to the Edge Area, (i.e. not Dorset), where more areas will be subject to 6 monthly testing from January 2018. 6 monthly testing will happen in the HRA, including Dorset, but not until 2019, and only on farms which have had a breakdown in the last 5 years.

Farms that have not had any reactors in the last five years, and farms that are accredited under the Cattle Herd Certification Standards (CHeCS) Scheme, (which requires observance of tougher biosecurity measures), will continue to be tested annually.

APHA (the Animal & Plant Health Agency, who carry out TB policy), have issued a briefing note for vets on changes in policy in the Edge Area, (Nov 2017), but so far no briefing note giving details on the planned changes to testing in the HRA has appeared. This is likely to be published towards the end of 2018. To check up to date news on TB testing usually requires referring to several sources, but the “TB Hub” is generally a good place to start and can be accessed here.

Do You Want to Avoid TB testing Every 6 Months?

There is now another powerful reason to start measuring and managing infectious disease in your herd using a Cattle Health Certification Standards (CHeCS) health plan (e.g. the Premium Cattle Health Scheme, PCHS, run by the Scottish Agricultural College).  From January 2019 herds in the High Risk Area, (which includes Dorset), which have had a reactor in the last 5 years, will have to TB test EVERY SIX MONTHS.  However, some exceptions will be made for lower risk herds, which will remain on annual testing. ‘Lower risk herds’ includes those engaging in a CHeCS TB herd accreditation scheme with at least a year of clear tests since their last breakdown (scoring Level 1), with Defra stating that such keepers ‘should be rewarded for their explicit commitment to managing their TB risks’. Bredy Vets use the Scottish Agricultural College’s Premium Cattle Health Scheme to guide disease management and reduction, which can include TB management.  The PCHS is CHeCS accredited.

More information on TB control and CHeCs is here.  Please contact us if you would like to use the PCHS to reduce both your disease status and halve your TB testing interval.

You can read the Governments “Bovine TB: Proposals to simplify surveillance testing in the High Risk Area of England and other disease control measures” published May 2019 here.

NADIS Farm Animal Parasite Forecasts & Webinars

The NADIS website has a wealth of useful information for farmers, including parasite forecasts and short webinars about seasonal issues. You can access this information, including the parasite forecasts, updated monthly, via the following link.

Parasite Control in Cattle (“COWS”) and Sheep (“SCOPS”)

In the past life was simple, if you had parasites affecting your stock, you killed ’em.  Now life is more complex.  There’s increasing drug resistance amongst parasites, so control has to be balanced between reducing parasite burdens to acceptably low levels, and maintaining the effectiveness of the treatments we have available.  In other words, tolerating a low level of parasitism.  This means more monitoring of worm burdens by regular faecal egg counts, and deciding on this basis whether to worm or not.

Since the problem of parasites with drug resistance become more apparent in sheep first, the sheep industry responded with “SCOPS” – Sustainable Control of Parasites in Sheep.  This is available as a manual on-line.  The first edition gave a clear message – don’t treat all your sheep every time – but wasn’t so clear as to how to apply this in practice.  The latest, 4th, edition of June 2012 is much clearer about the practice of the theory.  It’s the required reference for modern sheep management.  You can find it at

There’s now the cattle equivalent, “COWS” – Control of Worms Sustainably.  Funded by EBLEX & DairyCo this is available at though the latest edition of this dates from May 2010.

Bluetongue 2016

Bluetongue (BTV-8) virus is actively circulating in France and the risk of the infection reaching the UK in midges is estimated at 80% by September by DEFRA.

We are therefore advising our sheep and cattle clients to vaccinate all their stock.

We will shortly be buying vaccine.  The cost of the two injections required for cattle is likely to be about £3, for sheep about halve that.

There is plenty of information about the disease online.  A good starting point is the NFU site

Sheep are more likely to look ill but cattle can get a fever and sore coronary bands, (may be reluctant to move), nasal and ocular discharges, and small blood spots under the skin of mouth muzzle and coronary band.  Cattle are the main reservoir of infection.

The disease is notifiable so if you suspect you have cases you should contact either ourselves or the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA – a DEFRA agency) directly on 03000 200 301.  There are lots of reasons why sheep and cattle can show similar signs so if in doubt we will be informing them.

Thermal Imaging – which calves have pneumonia?

Jon has been interested in using a thermal imaging camera to help find feverish individuals in a group for some years.  I first made enquiries in 2007 but the price of the kit then was prohibitive.   However, the prices have dropped and I’ve bought one.  I’m hoping to identify calves with a temperature without having the stress and hassle of catching all the animals and taking the rectal temperature of each one.  BBC’s Countryfile TV program showed a story about thermal imaging on December 7th 2014.  The device can measure the surface temperature of the skin of the animal from a distance.  It’s important to realise that the skin temperature is determined by body heat AND other factors such as sunshine, variations in skin colour, cooling breezes etc.  So it’s best to scan the animals when they are all quiet, on still mornings before the sun has heated parts of the environment up.