Online BVD access for Northern Irish cattle farmers

Cattle farmers will be able to view their bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD) statuses on the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs’ (DAERA) computer base from 12 February. 

The change, announced by DAERA and Animal Health and Welfare Northern Ireland (AHWNI), is designed to help prevent any mistaken movement of animals that do not have a negative BVD status.

Under the new arrangements, statuses from both the voluntary and compulsory phases of the BVD Eradication Scheme will be visible on the DAERA computer base, APHIS (Animal and Public Health Information System).

For animals born on or after 1 March 2016, only negative (BVDN) animals can be permitted through a market, permitted directly to another herd or exported (including via an Export Assembly Centre), DAERA said in a statement.

In the case of animals born before 1 March 2016, any which are positive (BVDP), inconclusive (BVDI), the dam of a persistently infected (PI) calf (DAMPI) or offspring of a PI animal (OFFPI) cannot be permitted to a market, or directly to another herd or exported (including via an Export Assembly Centre).

“BVD costs the cattle industry in Northern Ireland millions of pounds each year,” said Sam Strain, CEO of AHWNI.

“The addition of BVD statuses to APHIS and the application of movement controls to non-negative animals will greatly assist in protecting herds from this important disease. Herd owners should discuss testing of positive or inconclusive calves, their dams and other offspring, where relevant, with their private vet.

“An animal with an ‘unknown’ status may mean that it has not been tested or an unsuitable sample has been taken: in these cases, a button tag may be applied and an ear tissue tag sample submitted for testing.”

Strain added that such testing would accelerate the disclosure of positive animals, allowing herd owners to cull them at an earlier stage.

“Veterinary advice is that PI animals should be humanely destroyed as soon as possible after receipt of an initial or re-test positive result,” he said. “These new measures will complement the current Eradication Scheme, intensify the drive to remove PIs, and so accelerate progress towards the eradication of BVD.”

Chief veterinary officer Robert Huey added: “The changes announced today will help support the Industry’s efforts to eradicate BVD, but the retention of persistently infected animals is still a problem and I again urge herd keepers to follow AHWNI’s advice and remove these animals as soon as possible. The Department will continue to work closely with AHWNI to reduce and, ultimately, to eradicate this production disease.”

Farmers have also been reminded to check the BVD status of previously purchased animals through their access to the AHWNI Database or, from February onwards, on APHIS.

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