Just under 65,000 farmers have received payments this week under the bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD) tag testing scheme.

The payments, coming to a total of just over €1.98 million, were made to 64,833 applicants.

Farmers began receiving payments from Tuesday of this week.

The support comprises a payment of €2 per calf, based on calves registered, up to a maximum of 25 calves per herd.

The BVD tag testing scheme targets breeding herds and in particular smaller breeding herds where the relative costs are the greatest.

The funding for the scheme was announced in December of last year by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue.

The minister confirmed at that time that €2.25 million would be put towards BVD tag testing this year.

However, it is not yet known if this support will continue in 2024.

The national programme to eradicate BVD for all cattle herds in Ireland is operated by Animal Health Ireland (AHI) on behalf of the Department for Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

The incidence of BVD-positive animals has decreased from 0.66% in 2013, the first year of the compulsory phase of the eradication programme, to 0.03% in 2022.

Data from AHI shows that, up to the end of July this year, almost 2.1 million calves were tested, with 98.98% of those being negative for the virus.

AHI estimates that the annual losses due to BVD in the Irish cattle industry are estimated to be €102 million.

The BVD status of bovine animals and herds in Ireland is based in the detection of the presence of the virus in ear notch samples collected by tissue tagging at, or soon after, birth.

The vast majority of testing is carried out on samples from newly born calves in private officially designated laboratories.

The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) has previously claimed that farmers have invested over €100 million in the national eradication programme since it began.

Around 519,000 BVD vaccines were sold in 2022. However, the number of animals vaccinated would be somewhat lower than this, given that a double dose of inactivated vaccine is required to begin the course.

Vaccination tends to be more common in the dairy sector than the beef sector.