Call for alternative Bovine Tuberculosis testing to reduce loss of livestock
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.
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.