Northern Ireland's movement ban on BVD Untested animals is set to come into effect this Wednesday (September 1).

It follows the announcement in July by Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots, that cattle that have not been tested for Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) will be prohibited from moving to slaughterhouses.

From Wednesday it will be 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 a licence issued by the Department or for disposal as an animal by-product.

The rules will be enforced by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) and come under the BVD Eradication Scheme Order (Northern Ireland) 2016.

£5,000 fine for moving BVD untested animals

As part of the enforcement measures, untested cattle (BVDU status) 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. This will 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, or in the case of an offence committed with respect to more than five animals, not exceeding £1,000 for each animal.

To remain compliant, keepers should check that all animals in their herd born since March 1, 2016, have been tested.

A spokesperson for Animal Health and Welfare NI said: "Farmers are being advised to make sure that all cattle moving to slaughter from September 1, 2021, have been tested for BVD and have evidence of a negative test result. From that date, DAERA will be taking enforcement measures (potentially leading to significant fines) when cattle that have not been tested for BVD are moved to a slaughterhouse, so it is vital that the BVD statuses of cattle are checked before they are moved from herds.

It is recommended that any untested animals are isolated within housing until there is evidence that they have tested negatively for the presence of the BVD virus."

BVDU status animals should be sampled at the first opportunity - either be a blood sample taken by a vet or by inserting a BVD sample official ear tag and sending the tissue sample to an approved laboratory.

Herd keepers can find the BVD status of their animals using APHIS Online, from an APHIS herd list (available from DAERA Direct offices) or on the Animal Health and Welfare Northern Ireland (AHWNI) database.

BVD non-negative statuses are also now listed on TB test charts to encourage the sampling of any untested animals when they are gathered for TB testing.

Ulster Farmers' Union deputy president William Irvine added: “BVD is a highly contagious disease. It’s vital that herd keepers ensure all animals are tested within 20 days of birth, to not only protect their own herd but neighbouring herds too.

"So far, farmer cooperation with the BVD programme has been excellent and we 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 Northern Ireland cattle population in the near future.”