Striving to protect Texas' hard-earned cattle tuberculosis (TB)-free status, Texas livestock health officials have adopted new cattle entry, testing and movement regulations that go into effect Oct. 13.

The Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) tightened regulations due to concerns about recent TB discoveries in two New Mexico dairies, a Colorado bucking bull herd, and an Oklahoma beef herd. Additionally, over the past two years, at least five infected cattle herds and infection in free-ranging deer have been identified in Minnesota. For several years, Michigan also has waged war against TB in both cattle and free-ranging deer.

Texas originally achieved TB-free status in 2000, but lost it in 2002 upon discovery of two infected cattle herds. To regain the state's status and ability to move and market cattle without restrictions, a rigorous TB testing program was initiated to detect any remaining infection and provide proof of sufficient disease surveillance. Texas regained its TB-free status last October after testing 342,937 cattle in the state's 818 dairies, and 128,489 head in 2,014 beef purebred and seedstock herds.

"It's not enough to just find and eradicate TB," says Bob Hillman, TAHC executive director and Texas' state veterinarian. He stresses that proactive measures are needed to prevent reintroducing this contagious, bacterial disease that can cause lesions on an animal's lungs, lymph nodes and other internal organs.

The new TAHC regulations include:

  • Lowering the TB test-eligible age from six months to two for sexually intact dairy cattle entering Texas. These animals also must have be officially identified individually and be accompanied by a certificate of veterinary inspection stating they tested negative for TB within 60 days prior to entering Texas. Sexually intact cattle less than two months of age must have an entry permit and go to a designated facility, where the animals will be held until they are tested negative at the age of two months.
  • Forgoing TB testing on out-of-state dairy cattle delivered to an approved feedlot in Texas for finish feeding for slaughter only, unless the animals are from TB-infected herd. These dairy feeder animals must be identified, and have a TAHC entry permit and certificate of veterinary inspection.
  • Identifying all Texas dairy cattle regardless of age -- with an official or TAHC-approved ID device prior to movement within the state.
  • Requiring TB tests for Mexican-origin (or "M"-branded) steers that are recognized as potential rodeo and/or roping stock, and entering Texas from other states. These steers must have had a negative TB test within the previous 12 months, and have a certificate of veterinary inspection issued within the previous 30 days.
"Regulations already were in place for importing steers from Mexico, requiring them to be M-branded, and then retested annually in Texas, if they are used for rodeo or roping activities," Hillman says. "The new regulation addresses situations in which Mexican-origin steers have been maintained in other states. Requiring these animals to be test-negative within the previous 12 months provides greater assurance that the animals will not introduce TB into Texas herds."

He advises producers to avoid commingling U.S. cattle with Mexican-origin rodeo steers or feeder cattle. Although these imported animals enter under strict TB testing requirements, he notes that TB hasn't been eradicated in Mexico and there's significant potential for disease exposure.
-- TAHC release