Department says BVD ‘name and shame’ letters are working

Letters that have been issuing to herd owners telling them that a neighbour was retaining a persistently infected (PI) animal are having a positive impact in reducing the number of retained PI’s, the Department of Agriculture has confirmed.

Earlier this year, the Department began issuing BVD letters, dubbed ‘name and shame’ letters, to herd owners who had a neighbour retaining a persistently infected (PI) animal.

The Department said that this action was being conducted along the same lines as the notification system that applies in the case of TB breakdowns.

This week, the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, said that it is critical that we sustain efforts towards the ultimate goal of BVD eradication.

The Minister has called for a further push towards the final eradication of BVD and Department figures show that incidence of the disease has fallen by 75% since the start of the compulsory programme in 2013 when 0.66% of calves born were PI.

In 2016 to date, only 0.14% of calves born have been found to be PI, according to the Department.

“As we are now in this crucial fourth year of the programme, and recognising the significant investment in the project so far, it is critical that we sustain efforts towards the ultimate goal of eradication,” the Minister said.

Minister Creed paid tribute to the critical role that farmers have played in progressing the eradication programme through their investment in the testing of in excess of two million calves each year since the programme’s inception.

He also acknowledged the BVD Implementation Group, chaired by Animal Health Ireland, for its leadership and management of the programme.

Minister Creed stressed the need for vigilance amongst farmers and the necessity to adopt strong bio-security measures on their farms.

“Farmers should ensure that boundary fences are adequate to prevent nose to nose contact between farms.

“Care should be taken with grazing management, particularly in the case of breeding animals. Furthermore, it is important that purchased animals are isolated, especially to prevent contact with breeding animals in the early stages of pregnancy,” he advised.

Minister Creed recalled that his Department has put in place certain support arrangements to assist farmers with the early disposal of persistently infected (PI) animals. These supports were proving effective in minimising the number of PI animals being retained on farms, he said.

The Minister also confirmed that his Department was continuing to restrict the small number of herds where PI animals were retained.

This was a particularly robust measure that included a prohibition on the sale and purchase of animals.