Bovine Tuberculosis (Tb)

bovine tbWhat cattle and deer owners need to know about Tb

If you have deer or cattle on your lifestyle block you need to make sure you meet Animal Health Board (AHB) regulations - even if you only have one or two animals.

Bovine Tb is an infectious disease that infects mainly the throats and lungs of animals. It can be fatal and also poses a serious risk to New Zealand's meat and dairy trade.

In New Zealand the most common way Tb is spread amongst deer and cattle is through contact with infected wildlife such as possums and ferrets. It can also be spread when infected animals are moved into a healthy herd.

This article contains information on the Tb Programme and your responsibilities under it.

How cattle and deer are officially identified

Each animal over a month old must be identified with a herd number and an individual number (via ear tags), assigned by the Animal Health Board. This provides a start point for re-tracing the movement of any animals which are later found to be infected with Tb.

To register with the Tb Programme, call 0800 4 TB INFO (0800 4 824 636)

Ear tags

You can get these from rural supplies shops such as PGG Wrightsons and Farmlands. There are two schemes that provide ear tags - the Animal Health Board and the Livestock Improvement Corporation's MINDA programme. The choice is up to you.

To order AHB ear tags you need an AHB herd number.

  • Animal Health Board ear tags - call 0800 ID SCHEME
  • MINDA ear tags - call 0800 2 MINDA

Cattle and deer over one month of age must be identified with a bar-coded primary tag and a secondary ear tag unless they are going straight to slaughter, in which case they need just one tag - either a primary tag or a direct to slaughter tag. Animals are exempt from ear tags if they have been moved for grazing and are kept under your day-to-day management, and are not mixed with animals from other herds.

How Tb testing works

Once your herd is registered, a local Tb tester will be in contact to discuss your testing programme.  The frequency of testing varies depending on the Tb risk in your area.  If your animal shows a possible reaction to a Tb test, it will either be directed to slaughter or be eligible for re-testing depending on where you are.

Tb herd status

All cattle and deer are given a Tb status showing their Tb history.  The main categories are Clear, Infected and Suspended.

The herd classification determines how frequently the herd is tested for Tb, as well as what restrictions are placed on its movements.

Movement Control Areas (MCAs)

These are areas where the movement of stock is restricted due to the greater than normal risk of Tb infection. Cattle and deer in a MVA need to be Tb tested within 60 days of moving to another property. If moving directly to slaughter they do not need a test.

Animals in Infected or Suspended herds must be tested prior to moving to another property whether or not they are in a MCA.

Animal Status Declaration forms

When deer and cattle are moved from their herd or to another location, an Animal Status Declaration (ASD) form must go with them. These forms provide a record of the animal's ownership and disease history. The forms are mandatory and required by law.

The form must be fully completed with the test results from your most recent Tb test allocation form. When you receive animals and are given their declaration forms you should retain them for at least six months.

To order an ASD form, or to confirm the accuracy of a Tb declaration, call the Animal Health Board on 0800 4 TB INFO (0800 4 824 636). You can also download the form here and print it yourself.

Buying in livestock

Never buy in cattle or deer without eartags and ASD forms. It is illegal.

More information

The animal health board website is a user-friendly place to find out more.

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