Newry Show chairman, Brian Lockhart, has confirmed that maintaining the highest levels of biosecurity is an absolute priority when it comes to hosting an event which attracts large numbers of livestock to a single site.

“We are totally guided by the regulations and advice given to us by the Department of Agriculture and other relevant bodies,” he told Agriland.

“All animals are permitted into and out of our site in strict adherences with the regulations that are in place.

“In addition, we specifically provide sanitising stations for livestock breeders and their stock. Without the animals in attendance, we would not have an event.”

Importance of biosecurity

The members of Newry Show committee are acutely aware of just how impactful biosecurity standards can be, in the context of hosting their annual event.

Last year, they had to find an alternative location for the show at very short notice following a bovine tuberculosis (bTB) outbreak on the farm originally chosen to host their ‘big day of the year’.

“Thankfully, we were able to find another venue for our 2023 show. And, yes, we had a very successful event,” Lockhart continued.

“However, our experience of last year highlights the significance of biosecurity for agriculture as a whole.”

Newry Show’s chairman made these comments in the wake of Animal Health and Welfare Northern Ireland (AHWNI) issuing biosecurity guidelines for agricultural shows under the aegis of the Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) eradication programme for Northern Ireland.

According to AHWNI, it is best practice for farmers not to move cattle from their herd if there are any BVD-positive, BVD-inconclusive, dams of a persistently infected (PI) calves or offspring of PI animals in the herd.

Exhibitors of in-calf cattle should assess disease risks before deciding to present them for showing.

If an animal is between approximately 30 and 120 days in-calf, it will be susceptible to BVD infection and the creation of a PI calf if it contacts an animal or material infected with BVD.

Vehicles used to transport any animals to an agricultural show should be cleaned and disinfected, as should any equipment brought to the event.

While at a show, the sharing of equipment should be avoided, including feed and water containers. Animal handlers should clean up manure and place it in designated areas.

Contact between animals while at an agricultural show should be reduced to a minimum, according to AHWNI.