Warning issued on BVD testing

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Around 2,400 farmers have received letters in relation to the movement of animals which weren’t tested for BVD.

Farmers must check that they have paid the required level of postage on calf tissue samples sent for BVD testing, according to Animal Health and Welfare Northern Ireland (AHWNI) chief executive Dr Sam Strain.

“This was a distinct problem in the period directly after the launch of the scheme.

“It was a case that some farmers were either sending envelopes off in the post without any stamps included or an inadequate level of postage paid,” he added.

He continued: “The problem is not as bad as was initially the case, but it still remains an issue.”

Dr Strain was responding to claims from the Ulster Farmers’ Union to the effect that 2,400 letters have been sent to farmers regarding the movement of animals untested for BVD.

“I am aware that untested calves have been permitted off their farms of origin. A number of animals have also been sold through the marts,” he said.

“AHWNI staff are working with DAERA to ensure that untested calves cannot be sold at auction. The onus is on the original owner of the calf not to fill in an MC2 permit for calves that have not been tested for BVD.

“Farmers in receipt of such calves can have them tested either by way of a second tissue sample being submitted, courtesy of a re-tagging process. Alternatively, a blood sample can be taken and submitted for analysis.”

For its part, the Union is reminding farmers that movement of a BVD positive or untested animal is in breach of the BVD Eradication Order.

A UFU spokesperson said: “Breaching this legislation can result in a maximum penalty of £5,000 per animal or up to one month imprisonment.

“Farmers receiving a letter informing them that they have come into possession of an animal that has not been tested for BVD should contact AHWNI immediately.

“In such circumstances the UFU recommends that farmers should contact their tag supplier and ensure that a tissue sample is taken from the affected animals as soon as possible.”

The Union has confirmed its commitment to light touch enforcement, where BVD eradication is concerned, up to this point.

The spokesperson continued: “However, given the danger that the actions of a minority of farmers have posed to innocent parties, the UFU is supportive of more robust action being taken towards those who are acting irresponsibly towards their fellow farmer.”

Co Tyrone farmer Roy Elliott told Farming Life that he buys 100 calves aged two to three weeks old on an annual basis. He received a letter informing him that four calves bought before Christmas at three local livestock marts weren’t tested for BVD.

Roy said that untested animals do not show up on the Aphis system and the marts are not able to check on their BVD status at the time of a sale.

“The department must have access to the Animal Health and Welfare NI list,” he added.

Roy is also concerned that it has taken the department three months to notify him that the calves haven’t been tested.

“They are telling me that I need to contact my vet and get the blood test carried out at my expense.

“Marts should have access to the list of calves that have been tested. The marts by law are not supposed to sell calves that haven’t been tested, but they simply have no way of checking. There is no tie up between the two computer systems.”