At my college, there is a medics and vets group that is designed to bring A level students aspiring to have a medical career together and to challenge us to produce work to show that we have the required skills to go down these difficult routes.
It is important to have a particular area of interest, as veterinary medicine ranges from being an official veterinarian in an abattoir to being a lecturer, from dangerous wild animals to pet poodles. So having to present a powerpoint on a prevalent news story in veterinary medicine allowed me to share in insight into my focus on livestock work, goats in particular.
Here is my presentation draft! We were not allowed a script, just a powerpoint of 5 photos, so I included pictures I had taken from my own experiences.
If any of you follow me on social media, you will see that I am a self-proclaimed crazy goat lady. Therefore, it was a no-brainer to share my personal experience, knowledge and involvement with the goat veterinary society regarding a recent development in DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) legislation.
But first I will give you a bit of background of why I am an aspiring goat specialising farm vet and the necessity for students to go down this specific career path.
With growth in the goat meat, dairy and pet industries, there is a demand for resources, medication, advancements, education and vets in goat veterinary medicine. In 2016, 53,000 in the UK had pet goats, unfortunately I was not one of those people. However, for the past year I have been caring for a goat herd of around 20, I’ve worked on Boer goat meat farm, community farm and an open farm to utilise my experience working with these intelligent but temperamental animals. I have been head butted by a goat whilst trimming hooves, been shoulder deep in a cow, pooed on every time in the sunken milking parlour, but my most eye opening farm animal experiences all have something in common- Bovine Tuberculosis or bTB for short. When I spent a week with a GVS farm vet, we shut down a farm with a single inconclusive result after setting off at 4am for an 8 hour radial TB SICCT test. Spending a day in an abattoir (slaughter house) showed me the fate of this cow and the second stage in the DEFRA protocols including the role of a meat inspector to identify TB in cattle. So today I am going to tie all of this together to present the potential revision in government legislation for non-bovine species. This is a more holistic approach contributing to the delivery of the Government’s 2016 strategy for the target of achieving the officially bovine tuberculosis free (OTF) status for England by 2038.
So what is TB and what is the current cattle legislation?
TB is a chronic, primarily respiratory infectious disease of mammals caused by the Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) complex. This group includes:
Myobacterium bovis which is responsible for TB in cattle and other mammals, including occasionally people (it is zoonotic). Cattle are the natural host of M. bovis, but nearly all warm-blooded animals, are susceptible to the infection and also Myobacterium tuberculosis.
All keepers of cattle, buffalo or bison are required by law to have their animals tested for bovine TB at prescribed intervals which must reflect the regional risks of bovine TB and comply with EU legislation. Reactor animals are sent to slaughter and I saw the post-mortem examinations to identify TB lesions. If there are no clinical signs, samples will be sent to a laboratory for further testing. Inconclusive are re-tested after 42 days and if the result is negative the restrictions on the animal are withdrawn so as you can imagine this is a very stressful time for farmers and is a huge threat to the industry but vets are playing an integral role in public health.
Now I will explain the goat veterinary society’s proposed changes, focusing on goats although it includes pigs, sheep, goats, captive deer and South American camelids. No compensation is currently payable for goats slaughtered for TB control reasons and only suspected cases of TB infected herds are tested.
Do you have any questions?
I was asked on the spot about the process of TB testing, which I anecdotely described in detail from what I had learned during my time with the brilliant farm vet as I had first-hand experience of multiple TB testing (both day 1 and follow up day 2) on different farming scales. Another question was if a dairy cow would continue to be milked in the parlour. I explained that as bTB is zoonotic, that if a farmer decided to keep a cow with suspected bTB that she would be isolated and milked separately, avoiding any contact with the herd as if she is a reactor, the TB would spread, this milk will be disposed of due to the public health risks.