IBR programme ‘necessary to future proof calf exports’

It has been suggested that an infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR) eradication programme should be introduced in Ireland to help future proof the Irish calf export industry.

A statement from the Irish Livestock Stakeholders’ Association outlined prolonged issues with IBR and bovine tuberculosis (TB).

According to the statement, IBR could become an issue when exporting calves in the future as France intends on increasing its national animal health status in relation to IBR.

The statement outlined that if France is successful in eradicating IBR, live exports which go to or travel through France would be expected to have a similar status.

With this in mind, the association has called for an eradication programme for IBR to be put in place “immediately”.

Bovine TB

Bovine TB also remains an issue for Irish cattle, according to the association.

Despite the decline in bovine TB in the Republic of Ireland, the disease has yet to be eradicated.

As a result of TB in Ireland, Irish calves cannot move freely in Holland. Once imported, the calves must be transported directly to the location where they are to be finished, the statement outlined.

“This prevents Irish calves being kept initially on a rearing farm and then travelling to separate finishing farms in Holland.”

Welfare

The suggestions have come following the inaugural meeting of the association on November 18, at the Arklow Bay Hotel.

At the event, Wicklow Calf Company’s David and James Scallan reiterated that the welfare of the calves will be “the number one priority for the association”.

The Scallan brothers have explained that this year, Wicklow Calf Company will be introducing new calf welfare technology that will feature a livestock tracking collar.

The collar allows owners to track the health and activity of their animal and will assist in further improving the welfare standards of the livestock during transit.

Concluding, the Scallan brothers stressed that people in Ireland have to “wake up to reality” and focus on the future of calf exports.

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