Q: Can I still get a vet to see my animals?
A: Preserving food security and the food chain is an essential industry during the Covid-19 lock-down, so you will still be able to get the vet to see your animals.
However vets still have to only undertake essential journeys to urgent / sick / emergency cases, if you are unsure please speak to your vet first and they will be able to decide if they should attend your animal or give you some advice.
Your vet may ask for photos and / or videos before being able to make that decision.
Q: What about routine animal husbandry procedures such as cow PD’s, can the vet still do them?
A: Routine procedures which directly impact on maintaining the food chain can still be done, the current advise is that this means routine fertility visits can be deemed essential to future production, but castrates/disbuds would not as they have no direct effect on production in the short term.
Q: My herd is due a TB test, will it still go ahead?
A: If your TB test is not done by the due date, your farm will automatically be placed under TB restrictions and the test should be conducted if it is safe to do so, your vet will want to discuss it with you and make arrangements for the 2m social distancing rules to be followed.
If a whole herd test cannot be done safely under these new arrangements, then the ministry may allow it to be postponed once for upto 2 months, this needs to be arranged with them and will be on a case by case basis.
Q: What about BVD monitoring and cattle health scheme screening tests?
A: Currently BVD monitoring should go ahead to prevent your herd being classified as ‘not-negative’ due to lack of tests, since BVD monitoring is a screen of a proportion of your herd it should be possible to maintain social distancing and take the blood samples.
The laboratories are prioritising statutory and diagnostic samples but are down to minimal safe staffing levels, so all cattle health scheme tests are not currently being run, this means that the vets journey to take the samples is not essential at the moment and all such visits should be postponed.
Q: If the vet visits do I need to take any special precautions or do anything different?
A: Social distancing rules still apply when your vet visits so your vet will want to speak to you beforehand about what symptoms your animal has so a plan can be made, please have your animal secured and ready to be examined e.g. cows in a cattle crush, have some warm water available for your vet to wash.
If you have any symptoms of Covid-19 or are self-isolating have someone who is fit and well attend your animals – do not attend yourself, minimise the number of people present – ideally just the handler and vet.
Q: Can I take my animals to market?
A: Yes, markets for animals entering the food chain are still running so you can still transport your animals to market, each auction mart has made individual arrangements for how these sales are being conducted, expect to only be allowed to drop your animals off at the unloading docks with only registered buyers present in the mart.
The auctioneer will ring you afterwards to inform you of how much your animals were sold for. Sales of breeding animals are being reviewed at the moment, please keep in contact with the mart to see if the sales will go ahead and if so, what arrangements may be in place.
Animals can still be transported direct from farm to abattoir and knackery services are still in place. Please facilitate measures on your farm so that those collecting your animals can practice social distancing.
Q: Can the foot trimmer still come and trim my cattle’s feet?
A: Foot trimmers should only be delivering emergency and urgent care to lame cattle and not conducting any routine or non-urgent appointments, so please discuss with them about your cattle’s feet, they may ask you to send photos of the feet in order to help them decide if a visit to your farm is essential.
Q: Can I transport my cattle to grazing I have on other holdings?
A: Farmers have a dispensation to do this when it is essential to maintain the food chain, spring is a common time of the year that cattle are turned out to fields from their accommodation inside sheds over the winter, so this is an essential journey.
Try to be organised and plan to minimise the amount of journeys you undertake and consider that animals away from home will need checked daily which also will require journeys. Remember to maintain social distancing between workers who do not live in the same household when doing any handling of farm stock.
Q: Can I catch Covid-19 from my animals?
A: Current opinion is that animals do not transmit the virus, it is a human-to-human disease.
Remember that the virus can be transferred between people on things, so do not share equipment and if you have to touch something on the yard that another person from outside your household has touched, make sure it has been wiped down.
Q: What happens if I catch Covid-19 or I am in self-isolation?
A: Prepare a plan, share it with your staff and neighbours / friends so that you have a contingency in place in case you become ill or have to self-isolate, remember if you or a member of your household becomes ill then none of you will be able to leave the farm to attend your animals, this impacts on where you graze your animals, if they are still on your home farm then you will be able to attend them but you shouldn’t leave your farm to attend animals if you are ill or self isolating.
Q: I have some less common farm species (goats & alpacas) what do I do?
A: All the same guidelines apply to you remembering that some of you will have these animals as pets and some as farm animals, discuss this with your vet because the vet will have to take this into consideration when advising you.
All urgent / sick / emergencies cases will be seen (like in all the species including household pets).