The DAERA will prohibit the movement of cattle that have not been tested for BVD to slaughterhouses in Northern Ireland.
Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots MLA has announced that the ban will come into effect on September 1st, 2021.
BVD in Northern Ireland
From this date, DAERA will take enforcement measures regarding untested cattle moved in breach of the BVD Eradication Scheme Order (Northern Ireland) 2016 (the BVD Order).
It is an offence to move an untested animal or to have possession of an untested animal that has been moved in contravention of the order.
This applies to herd keepers, market operators and slaughterhouses.
An untested animal may only move under licence issued by the department or for disposal as an animal by-product.
In Northern Ireland, DAERA requires herd keepers to:
- Sample calves for BVD within 20 days of birth;
- Send the sample to an approved laboratory within the following 7 days.
Minister Edwin Poots said:
“The presence of untested cattle of unknown BVD status poses a risk of disease spread both within herds and to other herds.”
“There is no reason for herd keepers to risk the spread of disease by failing to sample their cattle.”
“This enforcement initiative will encourage herd keepers to sample their cattle at the earliest opportunity. Cattle will be prevented from moving to slaughter, and enforcement penalties will be applied to those who breach the ban.”
Dr Sam Strain, Chief Executive of AHWNI, added,
“While there has been good progress in reducing the level of BVD, the infection remains a substantial threat to the Northern Ireland cattle industry.”
“It is important that herd keepers know the BVD status of all their cattle.”
“The ban on moving cattle with an unknown BVD status to abattoirs is a welcome and important step highlighting the risk these animals pose and underpinning the need to have them tested as soon as possible.”
Dr Strain said testing can be carried out using a supplementary tissue tag or by a blood sample taken by a vet.”
Eliminating BVD in the ‘near future’
William Irvine, UFU deputy president, said, “The UFU continue to encourage farmers to test cattle of BVDU status as soon as possible.”
“It is essential to establish whether animals are infected with the BVD virus early in life and minimise any risk of transmission to other animals.”
The group have engaged with the DAERA to request further measures in a bid to drive this disease to eradication.
“Farmer cooperation with the BVD Programme has been excellent to date.”
“The UFU believe that with continuing engagement from farmers, and cooperation from DAERA, the industry can look forward to the elimination of the BVD virus from the NI cattle population in the near future.”
Cattle moved in breach of the BVD Order to slaughterhouses will be highlighted on the Animal and Public Health Information System (APHIS) and identified for the official veterinarian to initiate enforcement action that may lead to prosecution.
Any person found guilty of moving, or possessing, an untested animal shall be liable, on summary conviction:
- To a fine not exceeding £5,000;
- In the case of an offence committed with respect to more than five animals, not exceeding £1,000 for each animal.
DAERA will issue letters to all keepers with untested animals to explain this policy change and highlight the animals in their herd which need to be tested.