Drive to tackle BVD welcomed by UFU

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Ulster Farmers’ Union, deputy president, David Brown says farmers should be commended for their efforts to cut the number of BVD Persistently Infected (PI) retained on Northern Ireland farms.

He is urging others to follow this approach to benefit the industry and their own herds.

Animal Health and Welfare NI (AHWNI) have reported that in November and December of 2018, the total number of these cattle dropped from 908 to 690.

The percentage of PIs in the cattle population fell to 0.04 per cent from 0.06 per cent.

Mr Brown said the figures reflect more farmers making the prudent decision to destroy PIs, to the advantage of their farm businesses.

“Many herd owners who have kept PIs have seen BVD infection persist into subsequent seasons,” he said. BVD positive animals are restricted to their herds and abattoirs will not accept them for slaughter.

“The best option in these circumstances, in line with veterinary advice, is to minimise losses by culling positive animals at the earliest opportunity,” said the UFU deputy president.

Despite many farmers achieving low risk status and reduced levels of the disease Mr Brown warned against complacency about BVD.

“We must continue to source animals responsibly, follow good biosecurity protocols, and discuss vaccination options with vets.

“Farmers who have achieved low risk status continue to be frustrated with the small number who are prolonging the eradication of BVD.

“The number of low risk herds is however encouraging. It shows what can be achieved if everyone plays their part in targeting this costly disease,” he said.