• Question: what tests do you do on cattle

    Asked by williamcampbell to Cat on 23 Jun 2011.
    • Photo: Cat O'Connor

      Cat O'Connor answered on 23 Jun 2011:

      Hi again William,

      Well I really don’t do any tests on live animals. You know when the vet comes and tests your cattle for TB and he injects stuff into their necks and comes back a couple of days later and tests to see how big the lumps get, well that is the standard skin test for TB for the whole of the UK. What I use in my research is the results from this test (so if an animal is positive or negative to the test) and then any more tests that are done on positive animals to make sure that they are really positive and to test what type of bovine TB they have. In fact what i have is a big long excel data file with a list of eartag numbers from cattle showing when they were born, where they have lived, anywhere they have moved to, what breed they are, how many tests they’ve had and any results to those tests. And my job is to see if I can figure out how bovine TB spreads using this information and some information on badgers!

      So while I don’t do any real tests on real cattle, I run lots of computer-y tests to see why one cow gets infected with a certain type of TB while another cow in his neighbours herd is infected with another type!

      It’s all pretty complicated and as you can imagine since I have data from 1987 (and even before) I know the what lots of cows have done for their entire lives!!

      Would you like to work with animals William? You obviously really care for them!