Cattle · Farm life

The dreaded TB test…

Over the past few days we have gone through the testing process for bovine tuberculosis in our cattle.

We live in a part of Britain that is considered low risk for TB so we are tested every four years, other higher risk areas have to go through it once a year.

It’s a routine test which must happen by law, but the process of going through it has not been pleasant at all.

This is the first time I’ve seen the testing in action and the very thought that you could lose one, if not all, of your cattle is horrid.

We have a small herd and each one of them is an integral part of the farm and much loved.

In the weeks leading up to the test it was a worry (even thought I know rationally that worrying won’t achieve anything) and in the days before the vet’s visit the thought of what was to come really did sit there like a cloud.

To carry out the skin test a vet visits the farm twice, 72 hours apart.

On the first visit the cattle are injected in the neck in two places – with two vaccines, one is an antigen from avian TB and one is an antigen from bovine TB.

The test is comparative: on the second visit the vet gauges any reaction in the form lumps – the size is what is critical and if the animal is free of bovine the reactions should be similar and below a certain size –  callipers are used to measure any reaction.

Luckily, between test one and two we had a busy weekend, so I was partially distracted, but this morning, while rounding up the herd ready for the vet I had butterflies and nerves of the sort I haven’t had for years.

I suppose it’s only natural to worry and I can only imagine what farmers in high-risk areas with large herds go through.

Happily, and as we suspected and hoped, all of our cattle are fine. We kind of thought that but until the results are in it’s all a waiting game.

While the vet was here, and the cattle were going through the crush, we had them tested for something else too, watch out for the next blog to find out what the vet discovered…


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