The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has welcomed temporary amendments to bovine TB (TB) testing that will allow herd tests to continue while maintaining the safety of farmers and vets during the Covid-19 pandemic.

It follows campaigning by the veterinary profession to allow a greater number of TB herd tests to be completed safely.

The new measures in England and Wales, announced by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), came into force on May 4.

These measures allow calves under 180 days old to be excluded from certain routine and targeted surveillance TB skin tests in Officially TB Free (OTF) herds if, in the vet’s judgement, they can’t be tested safely in line with government social distancing guidance.

No movement restrictions will be placed on herds as long as the other eligible (older) animals in the herd have been TB tested with negative results within the relevant testing window.

BVA junior vice president James Russell welcomed the announcements, saying: “We are extremely pleased to see this pragmatic approach to bovine TB testing rules following urgent representations to the government by the veterinary profession.

“While we recognise that it will have some effect on the overall interpretation of the TB status of herds, the amendment provides a risk-based approach that prioritises human safety and public health whilst allowing vets and farmers to continue vital animal health work during the Covid-19 restrictions.

“From a longer-term perspective, it will help vets maintain the food supply chain by controlling bovine TB through statutory controls.“

More information, including the latest TB testing rules across the UK, is available in the BVA coronavirus FAQs at