The level of the TB breakdown in Newford Farm, Co Galway, has escalated, with eight reactor animals identified in the latest round of short interval testing which took place last week.

The eight animals in question include six suckler cows and two calves.

It is the first time that suckler cows have been implicated since the TB breakdown was first identified approximately one year ago.

It is also by far the highest prevalence identified, with the three previous instances including one to two reactor animals each time.


As such, the farm is working closely with the Department of Agriculture District Veterinary Office and given the prevalence identified testing will now change from short interval skin testing to blood testing of all cows. This will be carried out in the coming weeks.

The reactor animals have been viewed by the Department’s valuer under the On-Farm Market Valuation Scheme and will be moved off the farm imminently.

TB timeline

As touched on above, the TB breakdown first emerged in June 2021 in a 2020-born bullock. The animal was identified during a routine herd test held due to TB being identified on neighbouring farms.

The farm then recorded one clear tests as part of the 60-day short interval testing, but, unfortunately, a 2021-born weanling bullock was identified as a reactor in the herd’s annual herd test at the end of November.

The herd recorded a clear run in the subsequent first 60-day test in February 2022, but two 2021-born heifers were then identified as reactors in the second 60-day test in April 2022.

Heifer performance

There has been numerous queries in recent weeks regarding the outcome of the farm’s plans to kill heifers at 16 months of age.

There has been no heifers drafted from the herd to date. Heifers have been assessed twice by the Dawn Meats procurement team and have been deemed not suitable for killing.

The average weight of 2021-born heifers on 30 June was 514kg.

Heavier heifers which would achieve a target carcase weight for Dawn Meats of in excess of 280kg are not deemed to have a sufficient fat cover, while lighter heifers which are lesser conformed and have a better flesh cover are deemed as not being capable of delivering the desired carcase weight.

The 38 heifers were last weighed on 30 June and their average weight was 514kg. This ranged from 610kg back to 445kg.

The top 10 heifers weighed 552kg on average (528kg to 610kg), the next 10 weighed 519kg on average (510kg to 528kg), while the next 15 heifers averaged 495kg (480kg to 508kg) leaving three heifers below this mark and weighing from 450kg to 456kg.