Information on Animal Diseases

Bovine Tuberculosis

Bovine tuberculosis (bTB) is a chronic, infectious and primarily respiratory disease caused by the slow-growing bacterium Mycobacterium bovis (M. bovis). It is mainly a disease of cattle and other bovines, but can affect a wide range of mammal species including goats, sheep and pigs.

The best source of preventative advice and current policy can be found on the TB Hub website and gov.uk.

Current control strategy

In 2014 the government released its strategy to eradicate Bovine Tuberculosis in England by 2038. A number of changes were put into place to achieve this. Read the current strategy.

England is currently divided into three risk areas: the ‘high risk area’ (HRA), the ‘edge area’ and the ‘low risk area’ (LRA). The surveillance, breakdown management and disease-prevention policies differ in each area. A map of the three risk areas can be found on the TB Hub website along with the relevant policies for each area.

General rules

Cattle in the HRA and edge areas are subject to annual herd surveillance (skin) testing. Cattle in the LRA are subject to four-yearly herd surveillance (skin) testing, with the exception of higher-risk herds on annual testing.

Movements of cattle from the premises they are on (if not a bTB restricted herd) are required to have been tested negative for bTB in the 60 days prior to the movement.

Moving to grass keep will involve a movement to other premises and testing will be required before the movement, and on return, if the cattle have stayed on the keep for more than 60 days.

Your routine bTB test also counts as a pre-movement test and you can, with the consent of a veterinary inspector, adjust the time of year that this is carried out to fit in with the farming practice and the disposal of stock.

All cattle on unrestricted farms that are within the HRA and edge areas are subject to pre-movement testing. All cattle moved on to unrestricted farms in the LRA from a HRA or edge area are subject to post-movement testing.

Keepers of Tested Bovine Animals are required to keep records of the bTB testing for three years after the first day of the test.

Details of exemptions to these rules can be found on the TB Hub website.