The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has urged herd owners to refocus on biosecurity – to protect their own herds and support the final push toward BVD freedom.
The appeal comes on the back of the emergence of a small number of local clusters of infection identified through epidemiological investigations in the past number of weeks.
According to a statement from the DAFM, infection spread between herds and is thought to result from the movement of animals, equipment, and people.
The DAFM encourages farmers to pay particular attention to a number of aspects ahead of the breeding season:
- Herds, where infection has been identified, should engage with the AHI TASAH programme without delay, expedite the removal of all infected cattle and complete the vaccination programme.
- Herds which were positive in 2022 should complete their 2023 vaccination programme.
- Herds that have been notified of a BVD-positive animal in their neighbourhood – which signals an increased risk to their herd – should seek advice from their veterinary practitioner to review their biosecurity practices, including vaccination policies, and enhance as necessary.
Minister Charlie McConalogue urged renewed caution as the Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) eradication programme approaches a “particularly critical juncture”.
The breeding season, he reminded farmers, is the high-risk period for the generation of BVD persistently infected (PI) cattle.
As the national prevalence of BVD decreases, so too does the natural immunity to BVD, and this, coupled with reduced levels of vaccination across the country, means many herds are at increased susceptibility to infection, the minister outlined.
The incursion of BVD into such herds with reduced immunity can have devastating impacts and lead to the development of further BVD persistently infected cattle.
Since the commencement of the BVD eradication programme in 2013, there has been “considerable” progress, with the herd level incidence falling from 11.27% in 2013 to 0.26% at the end of 2022, more than a forty-fold reduction.
Last year the national BVD programme was approved by the EU Commission, an important step towards the recognition of national freedom.
In a statement, the minister said: “Working with Animal Health Ireland, Irish farmers have made tremendous progress in the elimination of BVD.”
“The programme is now at a critical juncture, and I am encouraging all farmers to be mindful of the importance of biosecurity practices, including the washing and disinfection of any shared machinery or facilities, to reduce the risk of infection so that we, as a country, can achieve BVD freedom, providing long-term benefit for livestock farmers in the country.”
“Huge progress has been made, and the finishing is truly in sight. By working collectively and collaboratively, we can ensure we eradicate BVD as soon as possible,” the minister concluded.