BVD cattle ban secured across NI abattoirs

An agreement has been reached with the Northern Ireland Meat Exporters Association to ban persistently infected (PI) cattle from slaughter plants, according to Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) deputy president Victor Chestnutt.

The ban, which comes into effect at NI Meat Exporters Association (NIMEA) abattoirs from May 1, 2018, has full support from other industry organisations and is a significant step towards eradicating BVD in Northern Ireland.

The organisations that have agreed to the UFU’s proposals to ban PI cattle from slaughter plants from May 1, 2018, are:
  • Farmers For Action NI
  • National Beef Association (NBA)
  • Animal Health and Welfare NI
  • The Association of Veterinary Surgeons Practising in Northern Ireland (AVSPNI)

Chestnutt said: “The decision to implement a ban on PI cattle entering slaughter plants has not been taken lightly.

“Over the past number of months, we have listened to our members’ concerns and it is very clear that responsible herd keepers have lost patience with farmers who are currently retaining PI cattle.”

Risks in keeping PI cattle

Retaining PI cattle presents a significant disease risk to the natal herd for neighbouring farms and it is delaying the progress of the BVD Eradication Programme, Chestnutt explained.

“This is simply unacceptable. To really clamp down on this disease we need action, now.

“Without a sitting government, we’ve had to look at the things industry can do itself,” Chestnutt said, adding that the PI ban has been discussed at length with NIMEA and other industry organisations.

Clear message

“For anyone retaining PI cattle, the message is clear. Either humanely dispose of PI cattle through the fallen stock scheme or, if they are at least 12 months of age, slaughter them at the abattoir before May 1, 2018.

We do not want to see these cattle going back to grass and risk spreading the disease to neighbouring farms.

Already controls are ratcheting up to enhance the BVD eradication programme.

Farm-to-farm movement restrictions are now in place for all animals without a negative BVD status born after March 1, 2016.

“Ultimately, what we need is a government back in place and for a new minister to set out legislation that can implement whole herd movement restrictions in and out of farms retaining PIs,” Chestnutt added.

“This will be an essential measure and the final piece in the jigsaw for the Northern Ireland BVD Eradication Programme.”