How to manage tuberculosis (TB) in your non-bovine animals - when you can move them and how to get compensation if you slaughter them.
Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious respiratory disease found in mammals.
This guide applies to TB infection in domestic non-bovine animals (e.g. deer, pigs, sheep, goats, camelids), including those kept as pets.
There is separate guidance for TB in domestic pets
How to spot TB
Signs of TB in animals are:
- coughing or breathing problems
- loss of condition
- loss of appetite
- debilitating disease
- reduced milk yield (for dairy animals)
- seeing no improvement from a respiratory infection after antibiotic treatment
You should get advice from your vet if you think any of your animals have TB.
How TB spreads
Animals to animals
TB can spread to your domestic animals from:
- infected cattle
- infected wild animals, eg wild deer, badgers
- infected non-bovine animals introduced to your herd
It can spread directly from animal to animal, or indirectly through contaminated:
Animals to people
TB can spread from infected animals to humans if people:
- breathe in animal breath
- touch animal waste (urine or faeces)
- have cut skin and touch animals or carcasses
- eat dairy products made from unpasteurised milk from infected dairy animals
If you suspect TB
You must immediately contact APHA if you or your vet suspect a live animal or carcase is infected with TB.
After contacting APHA, you should keep the animal or carcase on your premises isolated as far as is practical from other livestock until APHA carry out an investigation.
APHA will visit as soon as possible and examine the animals or carcases, and test and take samples as required.
APHA usually put movement restrictions on premises until they determine that TB is not present.
The vet’s tests
You must allow an APHA vet to test your animals for TB.
For non-bovine animals the vet uses the tuberculin skin test. The vet injects tuberculin into the animal’s skin and measures how the skin has reacted after about 3 days.
In species where skin testing is difficult such as pigs and park deer, the results of abattoir post-mortem examinations may be taken into consideration when APHA decide on lifting restrictions.
APHA has powers in England to require the TB testing of all non-bovine animals. If you don’t allow the APHA vet to test your animals, movement restrictions will not be lifted.
After the tests are completed (this may involve repeat rounds of testing) the vet will confirm whether the animals have TB and whether the restrictions can be lifted.
If TB is found
APHA has statutory powers in England to slaughter and remove livestock of any species that test positive for TB.
You’ll need to restrict the movement of your animals until APHA is satisfied that TB is no longer on your farm.
Vaccination and treatment
Don’t use antimicrobial drugs, e.g. antibiotics or antiviral drugs. There are no vaccines approved in the UK for the vaccination of animals (except badgers) against TB.
You must not supply milk from infected animals for human consumption, and you should not consume it yourself.
Compensation for slaughtered animals (in England)
You will receive statutory compensation payments for all animals removed.
For pigs, sheep and goats, there are no specific amounts of statutory compensation set out in legislation. Instead Defra is obliged to provide you with a valuation of the animals to be compulsorily slaughtered.
For deer, you’ll get 50% of their market value up to a maximum of £600 per animal.
For camelids, you’ll get £750 per animal.
There are no specific statutory compensation amounts for goats, pigs and sheep. For these species compensation will be based on a valuation of the compulsorily slaughtered animals.
Arbitration arrangements are in place for cases where that valuation is disputed.
For all species, if you get approval from APHA you can choose to slaughter your animals at your own expense and keep any salvage value.
Day-to-day disease control
Ask your vet for advice to reduce the risk of introducing TB to your animals. See the disease prevention for livestock and poultry keepers guidance.
Moving your animals
You should keep a record of animals moving on and off your premises including animals that go to events, e.g. livestock shows or if they’re moved for mating.
You should consider seeking APHA approval to privately test animals for TB before you bring them on to your premises.
APHA can ask to test your animals for TB if:
- during routine abattoir meat inspection of your animals suspect lesions have tested positive for TB
- the bacterium that causes TB (M. bovis) has been found in laboratory samples of your animals
- TB has been found in other groups of animals kept on your farm e.g. cattle or in animals kept on neighbouring premises
- animals have moved to your premises from a place where TB has been confirmed (tracings)
You don’t pay for these tests - the government covers the costs.