National surveillance is carried out around the country to give us assurance that M. bovis is not widespread and on occasions it can help find the disease faster than tracing movements of infected animals. It will be a key component in providing confidence in the future that we are free from the disease.
As well as sampling at meat processing plants and a national feedlot, our beef sector surveillance includes samples taken for testing at the same time as on-farm TB testing. This is an effective method that reduces disruption to farming activities.
What’s changing for beef surveillance?
A wider range of farms will now be part of the National Beef Survey for M. bovis. All herds rearing beef cattle for slaughter can now be selected, previously only beef breeding herds were considered. The minimum number of cattle required for sampling has also reduced, while the maximum sample size in some regions has increased.
Why is this changing?
Sampling beef breeding herds has been underway for most of 2020. At this stage in the eradication programme, it’s important the Programme goes as broad as possible and include herds with a higher risk of being infected as a result of cattle movements from the dairy sector. Based on data so far, the Programme is also confident lowering the required sample size will pose a minimal risk of larger numbers of false positives.
What are the benefits of the changes?
It allows the Programme to survey more farms more quickly. If undetected infection exists in the beef sector, the Programme is more likely to find it, contain it, control it and ultimately eradicate M. bovis faster.
Who does this affect?
This affects beef farmers who are running groups of finishing cattle which can subject to testing for TB.
What does this mean for farmers?
Some additional time will be required during TB testing. A very small number of properties will have further testing on top of this.
For farmers, it means infected herds will be identified more quickly and stopped from spreading the infection further, meaning faster progress will be made toward eradication of the disease from New Zealand.