Minister concerned at retention rate of BVD PI animals on farms

The Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney has said in recent days that he is concerned at the rate of retention of BVD PI animals on farms.

“While good progress is being made by farmers in removing persistently infected (PI) animals under the Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) eradication programme, I am concerned with a number of PI animals being retained on a relatively small number of farms.”

He outlined that “to further assist and encourage farmers in removing PI animals, I have introduced new funding measures providing for a payment of €120 in respect of the first and subsequent PI calves born in beef herds in 2014. I have also introduced for the first time a support of €75 towards the removal of the second and subsequent PI calves born in dairy herds in 2014. Payment is contingent on disposal of the PI animals in a timely fashion and provided disposal is done through the knackery system.”

Animal Health Ireland (AHI) data shows that of the 1,634,060 calves tested so far this year some 0.46% or just over 7,000 calves tested positive. The rate of positive calves is some 53% lower than over the same period last year.

Dr David Graham, Programme Manager for Biosecure Diseases, Animal Health Ireland said: “The prompt removal of PI cattle by culling of calves or slaughter of older animals is vital to the success of the national BVD eradication programme.”

He said: “During 2013 some herd owners retained PI calves in an attempt to rear them to slaughter weight. While this practice is understandable at one level, it goes against the strong advice of the BVD Implementation Group and, in the majority of cases, will have been a futile exercise, as the PI animals will have died before reaching a suitable slaughter weight.

“By retaining PIs on farm, herd owners are retaining a source of infection that may well create a further crop of PI calves the following year, due to contact between these animals and breeding animals in the critical stage (30-120 days) of pregnancy.”