Ongoing and regular testing of bulk milk from farms nationwide is a key part of the Mycoplasma bovis Programme.
Monthly national screening of bulk tank milk samples can help us find infected herds otherwise undetected due to incomplete or inaccurate movement records.
It may also identify infected herds faster as animal movements can only be traced once the source Confirmed Property is found.
Dairy companies have been directed to provide bulk tank milk samples for testing, and every dairy supplying milk for commercial processing has a sample from their bulk tank milk tested each month.
If the screening test indicates that M. bovis could be present the Programme will contact the farmer and provide information about the next steps.
Farms with a 'detect' result will be placed under a Notice of Direction (NOD) restricting cattle movements while sampling and testing of the herd is carried out to determine its disease status.
A 'detect' result does not mean that the farm is infected.
More than 97% of farms with a 'detect' result are found to be clear of infection after on-farm investigation is completed. However, it is very important to ensure that herds are tested as soon as possible to make sure they are clear.
The first national screening of bulk milk was undertaken in spring 2018 and has proven extremely valuable, by:
The success of the spring 2018 programme led to the M. bovis Programme, in consultation with industry, deciding to put in place a continuous programme for screening of bulk tank milk.
Based on what we learned during the spring 2018 surveillance, a few changes have been made to the testing process:
The volume of negative (non-detect) results means an automated way of sharing these results with farmers is needed. We're working on a sustainable and integrated solution for reporting 'non-detect' results and once we have this in place these results will be provided.
It’s important to remember that a bulk tank milk 'non-detect' test result does not prove absence of infection. Nor does a bulk tank milk 'detect' test result prove presence of infection. M. bovis infection status can only be determined by on-farm testing of the herd.
A 'detect' result does not mean that the farm is infected. More than 97% of farms with a 'detect' result are found to be clear of infection after on-farm surveillance is completed.
For questions about the bulk tank milk screening programme:
You may also wish to contact your local dairy company manager.
Find out more about the screening – fact sheet [link to external PDF]