Bovine tuberculosis (known as TB) is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium bovis.
New Zealand aims – under the National Pest Management Plan – to have TB eliminated from all cattle and deer herds by 2026 and from the main wildlife vector, possums, by 2040. Our trading partners, including the EU, UK and the United States, also aim to eradicate TB from their herds. Australia is TB-free.
Being TB-free will help secure New Zealand’s reputation as a producer of safe, high-quality produce. It will also remove the risk of trade barriers being imposed on our exports of meat (including venison), velvet and dairy products because of the presence of TB in our herds.
Although the deer industry has broken the back of TB infections – down from hundreds of infected deer herds in the 1990s to only two in 2021 – it remains a serious threat. TB can re-emerge when controls are lifted too soon or through movement of animals from high-risk areas.
There are two main ways TB is detected in deer and cattle – through carcass inspection at slaughter and by on-farm testing of animals. Both tools have been used to drive infection rates down to the point where deer herds no longer need to be regularly tested in areas of lowest risk. However, all deer carcases continue to be closely monitored at deer slaughter premises for signs of infection.
If the presence of TB is suspected on a farm, either in a deer or in wildlife, consult a veterinarian immediately. Visit www.ospri.co.nz for more detailed information on TB.
For more information about TB testing or the NAIT programme, contact OSPRI on 0800 482 463 or go to www.ospri.co.nz
Information on Tuberculosis (TB) in deer is available in a convenient DINZ Deer Fact sheet (November 2021). Download your own copy here >>