First time TB test for the Dexters

It always feels odd to refer to our cattle as a “herd” particularly as we only have 2 cows with their 2 calves from last winter. However that is the proper collective noun and, according to the official letter, we were to arrange for a new herd TB check which had to be completed before the end of 2016.

As might be obvious from the date of this post, that deadline was not met although not without trying. The main problem was that the cattle took an immediate dislike of the vet and one in particular – Nellie – was so unhappy about the idea that she jumped the fencing despite the barbed wire catching her leg. Luckily no permanent damage was done to the cow …  and the fence survived the incident too.

Obviously improvements were needed so we got a few more cattle hurdles (10ft wide by 5ft high) which meant we could make a larger secure area for penning them in. With the cattle crush fitted at one end of this pen, the hurdles could be removed to reduce the space available without any risk of escape attempts.

Penned in and ready for testing

Penned in and ready for testing

After a few more practice attempts with the new setup, I was happy that we could securely pen them in before the vet arrived. Of course, I had learnt the first time that they will happily stroll through the cattle crush on request when I’m the only one there but I still wasn’t sure what to expect when the vet was present too.

On the day of the vet’s first visit everything went relatively smoothly with the cattle being very helpful about getting in the pen ahead of the vets arrival. They weren’t so happy about being in the crush but I’m not sure I’d like that part either.

The cattle crush doesn’t hurt them at all and it greatly reduces the chance of injury for them (and the vet) during the procedure. In the end, the whole process on the first visit took no more than 30 minutes for all four of them with most of that time spent encouraging the cattle through the crush.

Three days later is the key part with the follow-up visit when the vet checks for any reactions to the injections from the first day and I’m sure the cattle were aware of the significance. They did eventually agree to go into the pen for me but it took a little longer than I would have liked which added to the tension.

Ready for the follow up check

Ready for the follow up check

Thankfully, we are in a very low TB risk area within the UK and there wasn’t much chance that one of ours would be a reactor when tested. However, there is always an element of doubt that is only dispelled once the all clear is received so we were very relieved to get the good news.

As a result of the lower risk around here, we have a 4 yearly testing programme which means I can relax now before I have to do it all again in about 2020

Happy to be out again

Happy to be out again

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