Call for al­ter­na­tive Bovine Tu­ber­cu­lo­sis test­ing to re­duce loss of live­stock

Fiji Sun - - Business - FILIPE NAIGULEVU Feed­back: filipe.naigulevu@fi­jisun.com.fj

The Fiji Co­op­er­a­tive Dairy Com­pany Lim­ited (FCDCL) has made rec­om­men­da­tions for the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture to con­sider al­ter­na­tive meth­ods of test­ing Bovine Tu­ber­cu­lo­sis in cat­tle.

This is to re­duce the num­ber of live­stock that may have not been TB pos­i­tive which were culled or slaugh­tered dur­ing test­ing. Fiji Co­op­er­a­tive Dairy Com­pany is owned by the dairy farm­ers. It sup­plies raw milk pro­duced by mem­bers to the pro­cess­ing and dis­tri­bu­tion com­pany, Fiji Dairy Lim­ited. Ac­cord­ing to FCDCL chief ex­ec­u­tive Sachida Nand, around 2000 an­i­mals were culled last year, the ma­jor­ity of them be­ing milk­ing cows and heifers.

This, he said, was 20 per cent of their milk­ing stock which was a con­tribut­ing fac­tor in the de­crease of their an­nual milk­ing pro­duc­tion. While mak­ing sub­mis­sions be­fore the Stand­ing Com­mit­tee on Eco­nomic Af­fairs at Par­lia­ment yes­ter­day, Mr Nand said they had pro­cured 600 kits for In­ter­feron Gamma test.

The test­ing method is a blood test, also called an In­ter­feron Gamma Re­lease As­say or IGRA, used to test an­i­mals if they have TB. “We pro­cured those kits about two months ago and we are hop­ing that when the min­istry starts test­ing, we hope they will start doing both tests tu­ber­culin and gamma in­ter­feron tests,” Mr Nand said. “The re­sults can be read in three days time, com­pare both re­sults and then cull the an­i­mals.”

He also clar­i­fied when an­i­mals were iden­ti­fied TB pos­i­tive, they were tagged with a white ear be­fore be­ing sent to the abat­toir for culling. “When you have gen­er­alised TB, you will get le­sions on the an­i­mals es­pe­cially on the lymph nodes and other ar­eas. “But most of the culling that hap­pens, about more than 60 per cent we get NVLs (“No vis­i­ble le­sions”) which means the animal may or may not have TB.” Mr Nand also re­vealed a large pro­por­tion of the re­sults of culled an­i­mals from abat­toirs showed NVLs. This means the animal were ei­ther TB free or it was just re­cently af­fected by TB and the le­sions had not de­vel­oped.

“Our ob­jec­tive is not to prove that the min­istry is doing its work wrongly or some­thing is wrong with their test­ings,” Mr Nand said. “Our ob­jec­tive is to save more an­i­mals pos­si­ble in the dairy in­dus­try. He added with the lim­ited milk­ing cows in Fiji, an­i­mals were wasted if the culling of an­i­mals con­tin­ued be­cause of TB.

Photo: PAR­LIA­MENT NEWS

From left: Fiji Co­op­er­a­tive Dairy Com­pany Lim­ited chair­man Si­mon Cole with FCDCL chief ex­ec­u­tive Sachida Nand mak­ing sub­mis­sions be­fore the Par­lia­men­tary Stand­ing Com­mit­tee on Eco­nomic Af­fairs yes­ter­day.

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