BVD eradication within industry’s grasp – UFU

UFU annual meeting at Greenmount. Picture: Cliff Donaldson
UFU annual meeting at Greenmount. Picture: Cliff Donaldson

The Ulster Farmers Union has welcomed the DARD announcement that it is bringing forward new legislation that will see compulsory testing for Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) virus in new-born calves, stillbirths and abortions.

“As an industry, this is something that we have been calling for over the past three years and it is undoubtedly positive progress for the livestock sector. Improving animal health is a priority for all farmers and compulsory testing is the only way we will be able to eradicate BVD from our herds,” said UFU president, Ian Marshall.

BVD has wide ranging impacts on fertility, pneumonia and live-weight gain. All of these factors result in increased use of antibiotics and ultimately they impact the profitability of the business.

“We believe the eradication of BVD from Northern Ireland is imperative. Not only will it result in significant on farm cost savings and improve production efficiencies it will also maintain live export opportunities to countries where similar BVD schemes are already up and running,” said Mr Marshall.

The UFU president said that with many of Northern Ireland’s trading partners and competitors having already made strides to tackle BVD, progress here is vital so that farmers do not find themselves at a disadvantage.

“It is estimated that the eradication of BVD in Northern Ireland could add £30 million a year to the local agricultural sector. This makes it imperative that farmers take a proactive approach, by removing all persistently infected (PI) animals within their herd,” Mr Marshall added.

The UFU is now encouraging DARD to work towards ensuring this legislation is in place before the calving season reaches its peak in March 2016.

“That timetable will ensure we continue to make speedy progress in our efforts to eradicate BVD,” said Mr Marshall.