Brucellosis testing regime to be relaxed further

Date published: 09 January 2018


The brucellosis testing programme in Northern Ireland will be further relaxed bringing additional significant benefits and savings for our farmers and taxpayers, Robert Huey, the Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO) in the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) announced today.


The CVO said: “Following the attainment of Officially Brucellosis Free (OBF) status by Northern Ireland in October 2015, farmers here were able to benefit from a more relaxed testing programme whereby only 50% of beef herds were required to be tested for the previous two years. 

“I am delighted that we have now reached the point where the testing programme can be further relaxed and as such, from 15 January 2018, for each of the next three years, the requirement for testing of beef herds will be reduced to one third. This good news will be welcomed by industry and by all who have worked assiduously on the eradication of brucellosis, and the attainment of OBF status.”

He continued: “This further change to the testing regime represents a new, more positive, landscape for brucellosis controls. This will bring further savings for industry, taxpayers and DAERA through the further gradual relaxation of the brucellosis scheme as we continue to move forward.” 

Relaxing the testing regime for brucellosis will result in financial benefits for farmers, in reduced administration, sampling and testing costs. However, brucellosis testing must continue for another three years, although at a further reduced rate, as a condition of OBF status being granted, to ensure continuing disease freedom.  

Mr Huey went on to emphasise that farmers’ continued compliance with the testing measures and biosecurity advice was vital.

He said: “This further change will mean that beef herds will only be routinely tested once over the next three years. However, while we can reduce the levels of routine testing, we must not relax our attitude to the reporting of abortions or any suspicion of brucellosis. It is very important that we continue to stay free of this highly infectious disease. Stakeholder cooperation has been instrumental in getting the programme to this stage, and farmers must keep up their efforts to achieve excellent biosecurity standards and adopt appropriate stock replacement policies.”

Notes to editors: 

  1. Brucellosis is a highly contagious disease of cattle that is characterised by abortions in cattle and can be transferred to humans with serious consequences for human health.
  2. An application for OBF status was approved by the European Commission in October 2015.
  3. Brucellosis remains a compulsorily notifiable disease. DAERA is required under EC Directive 64/432 to implement appropriate monitoring measures for at least five years after achieving OBF status. DAERA officials have stressed to industry representative bodies the importance of farmers reporting all cattle abortions, stillbirths, and calves dying within 24 hours of birth.
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  5. All media queries should be directed to the DAERA Press Office on 028 9052 4619 or email DAERA Press Office. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07623 974 383 and your call will be returned.

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