BVD eradication update for NI

Data recently released from Animal Health and Welfare NI (AHWNI), indicates that Northern Ireland is continuing to make steady progress towards its goal of eradicating BVD (Bovine viral diarrhea) from our industry.

The data indicates that the 12-month rolling percentage of calves testing positive has fallen to its lowest level since the beginning of the scheme (see chart).

Additionally, the number of BVD positive animals retained on farm for more than 35 days and the number of herds containing these animals, has also reached a new historic low of 277 animals in 193 herds. The continued reduction in the number of retained BVDP animals during recent months is particularly encouraging as it coincides with the spring calving period.

As of 01/06/2020, there was a total of 449 BVDP animals alive in 295 herds throughout Northern Ireland, which is a slight increase from April when these figures were as low as 381 animals in 277 herds. Whilst disappointing, this seasonal increase is expected during the spring calving period. As such, we would encourage producers to remove these animals as quickly as possible to reduce the risk of viral spread to their own or neighbouring herds. Additionally, with Farm Quality Assurance Scheme (FQAS) inspections recommencing this week, we would warn producers that the retention of a BVDP animal for more than 35 days will now result in a non-conformance being raised within FQAS.

One area of continued frustration for the scheme is the number of animals that remain untested within Northern Ireland. To address this issue, the UFU have written to NIMEA this week seeking support for the introduction of a non-conformance to the FQAS scheme for having an animal over one year old with a BVDU status in the herd.

Additionally, the UFU’s animal health and welfare committee will be meeting later this month to discuss the introduction of fixed penalty notices within the amended BVD legislation thereby making it more straightforward to address breaches of the legislation which are undermining the efforts and progress being made by the vast majority of the industry.

As can be seen from the above, tremendous progress has been made by the industry towards eradicating BVD in recent years and the direction of travel has been well established. Controls and penalties around BVD are only going to increase as we continue to drive towards eradication and the number of people stalling progress continues to diminish. As such, we would encourage producers to take responsible and prudent actions now and ensure their animals are promptly tested for BVD and positive animals are removed without delay.

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