The Department of Agriculture has updated its protocol for TB testing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

These arrangements will continue in place until 1 November 2021, subject to review.

The most significant change for farmers is that from Wednesday 1 September 2021, the temporary exemption which had applied for calves between 42 and 120 days of age from TB testing will cease.

This means all calves aged over 42 days must be included in a herd TB test.

The Department also reminded farmers that calves over 42 days require a clear TB test in order to move off the holding.


The protocol enabling the flexibilities was introduced at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and was due to expire on 1 August.

Due to the spread of the Delta variant, the flexibilities were extended.

The option to sell calves up to 120 days without a TB test had proved popular with farmers and marts, as it resulted in a stronger calf being presented for sale.

Previously, speaking with the Irish Farmers Journal, Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA) deputy president Lorcan McCabe said: “[The] ICMSA will be asking the Minister for Agriculture to make this option available again in 2022 during the peak calving period."

COVID-19 symptoms

The Department has also advised that if a farmer is not available to present their cattle for TB testing as they are self-isolating due to symptoms of COVID-19 or if they are in a vulnerable or at-risk group, are over 70 years of age and cocooning or if they cannot make alternative arrangements, then the regional veterinary office (RVO) should be informed and the test can be delayed.

In the event of this happening, the herd will have its trading status suspended when it becomes overdue for being out of test. When the suspension is then applied, moves directly to slaughter will still be permitted.

The Department has moved to reassure farmers that if a TB test is delayed due to COVID-19-related issues, as mentioned above, it will not be a basis for referring the farmer for possible cross-compliance action.

Also, if the delayed test is a Department-paid test, a delay due to COVID-19 will not be grounds to make it a farmer-paid test.