BVD tissue tagging of calves is to remain compulsory in 2017, as it was agreed at a meeting earlier this week.

This is just one of the key measures the BVD Implementation Group and the Department of Agriculture agreed upon at a meeting on Monday.

Following the meeting, Joe O’Flaherty, Chairman of the Group welcomed the agreement reached between both parties in relation to a series of key measures for the programme in 2017.

Other key issues agreed at the meeting was the compensation payable for the removal of BVD-test positive calves from farms.

At the meeting, it was agreed that farmers will be paid €185 for beef breed animals removed with a registered date of death on AIM within three weeks of the initial test.

This falls to €60 if removed in the forth or fifth week after the initial test.

For dairy and dairy cross heifers, farmers will receive €150 if the calve is removed within three weeks of the initial test, reducing to €35 if removed in the fourth or fifth week after the initial test, while €30 is available for dairy bull calves removed within the first three weeks after the initial test.

Other key measures for the 2017 Programme:

Veterinary investigations of all herds with PI calves born in 2017
  • All herds with PI calves born in 2017 are required to undergo an investigation funded through the Rural Development Plan.
  • This will be delivered by an approved private veterinary practitioner, within three months of the date of the first positive result.

Confirmatory and dam testing by blood sample only
  • Testing of the dam of PI calves and, where desired, confirmatory testing of the calf must be done by means of a blood sample only.
  • The Department of Agriculture will meet the cost of the visit by the herd’s veterinary practitioner and the cost of testing.

Restriction of herds retaining PI calves and notification of neighbours
  • The Department will automatically restrict movements into and out of herds that retain PI animals for more than five weeks after the date of the initial test.
  • These will be automatically lifted following removal of PIs.
  • Neighbouring herds will also be notified, advising them to take appropriate bio-security measures to minimize the risk of accidental introduction of infection.

Results from the BVD eradication programme

O’Flaherty also said that the national BVD eradication programme has shown considerable success in tackling this damaging disease.

The number of Persistently Infected (PI) animals born in 2016 is less than one quarter of that seen in 2013, the first year of the compulsory programme.

“Furthermore, significant improvements have been made in reducing the extent to which PIs are retained on farm; currently only 117 of more than 83,000 breeding herds contain PIs that have been retained for more than 7 weeks,” he said.

O’Flaherty went on to say that these very encouraging results indicate that complete eradication is well within reach, and the measures which have just been agreed will further accelerate the progress towards the objective.

He concluded by reminding farmers of the benefits of obtaining and protecting Negative Herd Status (NHS).

By identifying and testing any animals whose status is not known, farmers can obtain NHS and access lower cost testing.

He also noted that appropriate bio-security measures should be put in place to minimise the risk of accidental introduction of infection through movement of animals, people or equipment, or across boundaries.