Bovine Tuberculosis


1 min read

Bovine TB plan TBfree New Zealand controls the disease through: The risk-based approach to TB control

Bovine tuberculosis (TB) control and eradication is essential to protect the health of cattle herds and the dairy and beef export sectors. The page outlines the TBfree programme in New Zealand, managed by OSPRI, with the aim to eradicate TB by meeting specific objectives for cattle, deer, and possums. This includes measures such as pest management, disease control through testing, and movement restrictions. There are also details of a risk-based approach being introduced, which will change how TB testing and pest control are done, focusing on detailed assessments and controlling key risk areas.

The control and eradication of bovine tuberculosis (TB) is a critical risk management initiative. It works to ensure TB does not pose a threat to the health of our cattle herds, those working with them or the viability of our dairy and beef export sectors.

DairyNZ is the majority industry investor in TBfree’s national tuberculosis (TB) control programme and this is the single largest investment from the milksolids levy.

Bovine TB National Pest Management Plan (TB plan)

TBfree (formerly Animal Health Board) manages the National Pest Management Plan for Bovine TB which aims to:

  1. Eradicate TB from New Zealand by meeting the objectives:
  • TB freedom from cattle and deer herds by 2026
  • TB freedom from possums by 2040
  • Biological eradication by 2055.
  1. Maintain period prevalence below 0.2%.

TBfree New Zealand controls the disease through:

  • Pest management (possums mainly, but also ferrets, wild pigs and deer).
  • Disease control (testing cattle and deer, and post-mortem surveillance at slaughter).
  • Movement restrictions (applied to cattle and deer from some herds and locations).

The risk-based approach to TB control

To achieve the goal of eradication of TB from New Zealand, the TBfree programme is introducing new ways of running the TB testing and pest control programmes, based on risk. The changes, outlined below, will be phased in over time.

Risk-based testing

The new approach for TB testing will be based on more detailed risk assessments for herds to determine which herds require testing, how often and under what circumstances.  The three key factors are:

  1. Location – risk from wildlife (mainly possums)
  2. History – residual risk of TB infection within the herd
  3. Movement – the number, source and type of movements into the herd.

TB testing

Risk-based pest control

The new approach for controlling pests (mainly possums) will be based on three key factors:

  1. Risk to herds – areas that pose the most risk to herds getting infected because of the number of possums and presence of TB in wildlife
  2. Time – areas that will take significant time to eradicate (so control can be started early), and areas that will be relatively quick to eradicate (so they don’t regress if no control work is done) 
  3. Infection rate – areas that are hotspots of TB infection.
Last updated: Aug 2023

Related content

High Pathogenicity Avian Influenza (HPAI)


3 min read

Mycoplasma bovis


3 min read

Foot and mouth disease


8 min read