Beating BVD: ‘Clear info not being given’ to farmers with PIs

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine is “failing to give clear information” to farmers who have persistently infected (PI) animals on their farm under the bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD) Eradication Programme, the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) has claimed.

Commenting on the matter, IFA Animal Health Committee chairman Pat Farrell said the lack of clear and concise relevant information in the enhanced programme for 2021 to farmers who identify PIs has added unnecessary stress and frustration on these farms.

“Farms where PIs are identified are restricted – but allowed move animals under permit,” he noted.

These movements are allowed to non-breeding outlets and include sales for export and to calf rearing farms that are non-breeding. In addition, movements out for contract rearing are also permitted.

“Movements to slaughter are not affected by the restriction,” he said.

The chairman said these outward sales and movements “significantly reduces the impact” of the restriction, but this vital information has not been provided clearly and concisely by the Department of Agriculture in its communications with effected herdowners.

Farrell said the enhanced BVD programme is to ensure we can achieve BVD free status and finally finish tissue tag testing at the end of next year.

“The requirement for a whole herd test before the restriction is lifted in the programme is a major requirement for farmers at a particularly busy time of year. With cows on the point of calving, it’s not ideal.

“The IFA has raised this issue with AHI [Animal Health Ireland],” he said.

The latest figures show 49 herds have identified PI calves this year and have received these restriction notices. AHI predicts there will be 250 herds this year with PI births in total.

Farrell said the objective must be to finally bring to an end the BVD programme.

Tighter controls are a part of this, but better interaction and communication from the Department of Agriculture is urgently needed, including a “rewording of the heavy-handed and unnecessary tone in the herd restriction letters”, the chairman concluded.