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surveillance on farm testing for M. bovis

Notices of Direction / Movement Controls

What’s it mean to be under Notice of Direction (NOD)?

A farm is placed under Notice of Direction (NOD) when there’s a high risk that cattle on the farm may be infected with Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis).

This stops cattle and other high risk items at risk of spreading M. bovis from being moved off the farm (without a permit), while testing is done to determine if any cattle are infected. 

While restrictions are in place the following cannot be moved off the farm without a permit (issued through MPI):

  • cattle
  • milk not being sent for to a commercial processor
  • equipment that’s been used in the milking environment or has been in direct contact with cattle.

While you are under a NOD you need to continue to meet all of your usual obligations, for example, your animal welfare responsibilities. It is also important to maintain business as usual for your farm as much as you can within the controls placed on your property.

Why it’s important to comply with your Notice

If you are issued with a legal notice, such as a Notice of Direction, by law, you’re required to comply with the terms of the Notice. It is a legal control under the Biosecurity Act 1993.

Your Farm Systems Manager (FSM)

When your farm is placed under a Notice of Direction, you will be assigned a Farm Systems Manager (FSM).

This is an Authorised Person under the Biosecurity Act, who will oversee all activities relating to the legal notices in place on your farm.

They will be your main point of contact and can answer or find the answer to any questions you might have. They will also help you manage the impacts of being under restrictions.

Going under a Notice of Direction (NOD)

  • When are farms placed under a Notice of Direction?

    The common reasons that a farm is placed under a Notice of Direction are:

    • There are ‘trace animals’ on the farm or that have been on the farm – trace animals are cattle that have moved off a property confirmed with M. bovis during the risk period of likely infection.
    • A dairy farm has had a ‘detect’ result as part of the Bulk Tank Milk Surveillance programme.
    • A farm has had a positive round of testing while under Active Surveillance.
    • A farm is closely associated with an infected farm i.e. they share the same owner or manager.
  • Notice of Direction process

    Click on the image to enlarge it.

Testing under a Notice of Direction (NOD)

On farm testing needs to take place as soon as possible to determine if M. bovis has spread to the farm, and if there is any risk to other farms from cattle movements. Having testing completed will allow for restrictions to be lifted as soon as possible.

The testing protocols are specific to each farm, the size of the management groups, and the nature of the risk. The testing required on your farm will be specific to your situation, and will be communicated to you.

Here's a general summary of how the testing works, but note it may not be exactly what occurs on your farm:

  • Generally how testing works under a Notice of Direction
    If there are trace animals on farm

    The first round of testing must take place while the trace animals are alive and on farm, so that we can ensure that we get samples from all of these animals.

    After the first round of samples for testing are taken, the trace animals must be sent to slaughter, where further samples will be taken.

    After the first round test of results are available, and at least two weeks after the trace animals have left the farm, a second round of testing of the remaining in-contact animals will be done. The two weeks is to allow for the animals to develop an immune response if they have been infected.

    If all of those results are negative we will determine that there is no M. bovis infection in those management groups.

    If there are no trace animals on the farm

    The number of rounds of testing required will be determined by the size of the management groups.

    For more information about testing, see: What's involved with testing.

  • Conducting a census

    The Programme will carry out a ‘census’ of all cattle on properties under a Notice of Direction. This is a headcount of all cattle on the farm and how they are organised into groups.

    The census will help us:

    • identify any other trace animals which need to be culled
    • get details of each animal’s lifetime history
    • verify farm records such as MINDA and NAIT.


    The census should take place within six weeks of the date your farm is placed under Notice of Direction. Your Farm Systems Manager will work through this with you.

    All cattle over the age of 6 months, or that have moved from their property of birth, must be NAIT tagged.

  • Help with Mustering costs

    We can help cover the cost of mustering stock for testing or census, if it is going to cause a disruption to 'business as usual' operations on your farm.

    Please discuss this with your Farm Systems Manager.

    Find out more about Operational Costs and Compensation

  • How will I find out the results of testing?

    Results can take several weeks in some circumstances. Your Farm Systems Manager will contact you with the results of each round of testing, and discuss any future action needed.

    You will also receive written confirmation of your test results.

  • What happens if the tests are negative?

    The Notice of Direction will be lifted once tests have shown no evidence of M. bovis in your cattle, and a census has been completed to ensure there are no other trace animals on the farm, see Conducting a census above.

    A number of rounds of testing may be necessary for us to determine if M. bovis is present. The Notice of Direction will stay in place until the testing has provided a clear determination.

    Testing may be carried out again if circumstances change, for example, if more trace animals come on to the farm in the future.

  • What happens if testing indicates M. bovis is present?

    If testing detects M. bovis in your cattle, the following steps will happen:

    • Initially a Transitional Notice of Direction (T-NOD) will likely be issued. This type of Notice prevents the movement of cattle and high risk goods/equipment – both on and off the property. The T-NOD allows time for an ‘Exotic Disease Investigation Report’ (EDIR) to be completed for your property. This will clearly identify which animals are infected, and what parts of the farm have been exposed.
    • The parts of your farm to be restricted have been identified, a Restricted Place Notice will be issued for the affected areas of your farm, and your property will be designated an Active Confirmed Property.

    Your Farm Systems Manager will work with you to determine:

    • when and how the cull of infected animals will be organised
    • how and when to conduct any necessary cleaning and disinfection
    • how and when to get your farm repopulated.
Animal welfare

Remember you're always responsible for the welfare of animals under your care. If a farm is placed under Active Surveillance or movement restrictions, your animal welfare responsibilities do not change. More information on animal welfare responsibilities.

Health and safety
Operational costs and compensation

We can help cover the cost of mustering stock for testing or census, if it is going to cause a disruption to 'business as usual' operations on your farm.

Find out about applying for Operational Costs and when Compensation can be claimed.

If cattle on your farm are confirmed to be infected with M. bovis, your farm will become an Active Confirmed Property. 


Farmer tip

If you’re under a Notice of Direction (NOD) keep farming as close to business as usual as possible within the restrictions placed upon you. Ensure you understand  the NOD’s requirements including whether stock can be moved and under what conditions.

If in doubt, check with your Farm Systems Manager.

More than 80% of farms under a NOD are subsequently cleared. So the recovery of your business will be affected if you voluntarily cease business-as-usual activities. 

If the outcome of testing confirms M. bovis - your property will become an Active Property