Effective immediately, the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) adopted a number of new rules and amendments to Texas animal health regulations associated with dairy cattle exposed to tuberculosis, two new provisions for beef cattle that originated in Mexico, microchip Piroplasmosis Reactors for equine, and rule changes for registration of domestic and exotic fowl.

In addition, TAHC adopted a number of proposed rules and is accepting public comments regarding Trichomoniasis (Trich) testing and herd certification for cattle; a proposed chapter related to requirements and treatment standards of scabies and mange mites for livestock; a proposed amendment to add Novel Swine Enteric Coronavirus Disease (SECD) to the list of reportable diseases; a proposed amendment for Bovine Trich entry requirements and testing exemptions; a proposed amendment to health certificates issued on non-commercial swine entering Texas.

The rule changes and the establishment of comment periods for additional proposed rule changes were issued during the regularly scheduled Commission meeting held on May 13 in Austin.

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Adopted rules that went into effect June 3, 2014, amend the Texas Administrative Code, Title 4, Part 2, and include:

Chapter 43, Tuberculosis, Authorized Calf Ranch/Grower Facility

A rule that creates a new section that establishes standards, procedures and requirements for young dairy cattle exposed to tuberculosis which may be fed in dry-lot facilities approved by TAHC and called "authorized calf ranches/grower facilities".

EFFECT: To allow tuberculosis affected dairies to maximize the value of replacement heifers that can be raised in a controlled, biosecure environment that allows them to meet quarantine release requirements by the time they are ready to calve for the first time. The rule also allows steer calves to be 'fed to finish' to maximize their value.

Chapter 43, Tuberculosis, Mexican Origin Cattle

A new rule requiring Texas veterinarians to include a mandatory statement on all official documents issued by the veterinarian for cattle that originated in Mexico. The rule requires veterinarians to brand every such document with an "M" and a corresponding statement indicating the cattle represented on the document originated outside of Texas and the United States, specifically in Mexico.

EFFECT:  Provides a definitive document trail that designates cattle that originate in Mexico that must be presented at time of future sale.

Chapter 49, Equine, Microchip Piroplasmosis Reactors

A new rule that requires Equine Piroplasmosis (Piro) reactors to be implanted by an authorized veterinarian or representative of TAHC with an ISO 11784/11785 compatible RFID microchip within 10 days of final classification.

EFFECT: ISO 11784/11785 microchips are universally used as animal identification tags recognized in most countries. Texas horses diagnosed with Equine Piroplasmosis are tagged with the microchip indicating the animal has been infected with the exotic disease or other vital information related to the disease and the animal.

Chapter 51, Entry Requirements, Mexican Origin Cattle, and Definition Change

A new rule similar to the one above, except requiring out of state veterinarians to create documents on cattle which originated in Mexico that are intended for entry into the State of Texas. Those documents must be branded with the letter "M" designating the cattle represented in the document originated in Mexico.

EFFECT: Provides a document trail for cattle entering Texas and designates them as originating in Mexico, a measure required to provide animal health security at state borders.

Chapter 54, Domestic and Exotic Fowl Registration

A new rule requiring fowl in a live bird marketing system to be confined at all times and to be kept separate and apart from wild bird populations or other unconfined domestic fowl.

EFFECT: The rule is intended to address concerns regarding potential disease exposure and clarifies existing biosecurity protocols.

Proposed amendments to the state's animal health regulations

In addition to adopting new rules and amendments, the Commission also adopted a series of proposed amendments to the state's animal health regulations, including changes regarding trichomoniasis (trich) testing, herd certification and entry requirements for cattle.

Four such proposed amendments are open for public comment through July 7, 2014. They include:

  • Add testing requirements for a herd of origin when a bull from the herd is sold and subsequently found to be infected with Trich.

Require testing when a bull is separated from its unit of origin, such as when a bull is found on property not owned by the owner/caretaker of the bull (stray), and that bull is found to be infected with Trich. Under the proposal, the pasture (unit) of origin, and pasture where the stray Trich bull was located will both be placed under hold order, and any additional bulls located there must be tested for Trich.

  • Allow TAHC to evaluate the effectiveness of a herd control plan for an infected herd leading to the possible continuation or disapproval of the herd plan based on the progress or lack of progress made in controlling the disease within the herd.
  • Require herds enrolled in the Trich Herd Certification Program to have perimeter fences that are adequate to prevent the ingress or egress of cattle.

In addition, other proposed amendments related to Trich were made. The Commission proposed a new rule for cattle that clarifies bovine trich entry requirements and testing exemptions and adds new testing exemptions for out-of-state bulls enrolled in a Texas bull test station trial and for out-of-state bulls originating from approved Certified Trich Free Herd programs.

Commissioners announced this new proposed rule will be available for review on the TAHC website beginning June 20, 2014. A public comment period will commence the following day for a period of 30 days and ending on July 21, 2014.

Additional proposed amendments include:

Chapter 39, Scabies and Mange Mites, New Chapter/Repeal

The purpose of the proposed new chapter is to replace the existing chapter and make substantial changes regarding the requirements and treatment standards for livestock infested with or exposed to scabies or mange mites.

Chapter 45, Reportable Diseases, Novel Swine Enteric Coronavirus

The purpose of the proposed amendment is to add Novel Swine Enteric Coronavirus Disease (SECD) to the list of reportable diseases. SECD is a disease in swine caused by emerging porcine coronaviruses which include but are not limited to porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) and porcine delta coronavirus (PDCoV).

Chapter 51, Entry Requirements, Swine

The proposed amendments will require accredited veterinarians to include a statement on health certificates issued on non-commercial swine entering Texas for purposes other than immediate slaughter, which should state that, "The swine on this certificate have not originated from a premises known to be affected by SECD and have not been exposed to SECD within the last 30 days."

These new proposed rules and amendments will also be available for review on the TAHC website beginning June 20, 2014 with a 30 period following for public comment.

Comments on the proposed regulations must be submitted in writing to Carol Pivonka, Texas Animal Health Commission, 2105 Kramer Lane, Austin, Texas 78758, by fax at (512) 719-0719, or by email to comments@tahc.texas.gov.