Newry & Armagh Assemblyman and Stormont Agriculture Committee Chairman William Irwin MLA has queried the DARD Minister on the delays regarding the introduction of a compulsory scheme to eradicate Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD).
Mr Irwin raised the issue in Questions to the Minister of Agriculture at Stormont and the response by Minister O’Neill highlighted an issue with the computer system used by Animal Health and Welfare Northern Ireland who take the lead on disease eradication programmes.
He said: “It is important that a compulsory scheme for the eradication of BVD is brought forward and I took the opportunity through Question Time to raise this matter directly with the Minister on the floor of the House.”
He added: “The Minster’s response indicates an issue with the IT system within Animal Health and Welfare Northern Ireland and it is vital that any issues regarding IT are ironed out as quickly as possible.
“Disease eradication remains a key part of the ongoing sustainability of the sector and the industry has been frustrated at the length of time it has taken to get a compulsory plan in place.
“I would urge the Minister to move quickly in getting the problems resolved and a compulsory scheme in operation as quickly as possible.”
Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) is believed by many to be the most important viral disease of cattle, responsible for a variety of production losses. It can be hard, however, to associate health problems seen in the herd with the BVD virus or appreciate the prevalence and dangers of the disease.
The effects of BVD in cattle
Economic losses are incurred in a variety of ways:
•Increased levels of infertility
•Extended calving to conception intervals
•Increased services to get cows in calf
•Abortions and neonatal deaths
•Deformed calves, e.g. cataracts, brain damage
•Immunosurpression in young calves which can lead to increased severity of scour and pneumonia.