The number of animals Persistently Infected with Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) in Northern Ireland fell by more than 200 in the two months leading up to the New Year.

The latest figures from Animal Health and Welfare NI show that in November and December, the total number of these cattle dropped from 908 to 690.

As a result, the percentage of PIs (Persistently Infected animals) in the total cattle population has fallen to just 0.04%.

Ulster Farmers’ Union, deputy president, David Brown said farmers should be commended for their efforts to cut the number of BVD Persistently Infected (PI) retained on Northern Ireland farms. He is urging others to follow this approach to benefit the industry and their own herds.

Brown said the figures reflect that more farmers are following official advice to destroy PIs. BVD positive animals are restricted to their herds and abattoirs will not accept them for slaughter.

Continue to follow official advice

“Many herd owners who have kept PIs have seen BVD infection persist into subsequent seasons,” he said.

“The best option in these circumstances, in line with veterinary advice, is to minimise losses by culling positive animals at the earliest opportunity."

Despite many farmers achieving low-risk status and reduced levels of the disease, Brown warned against complacency about BVD.

“We must continue to source animals responsibly, follow good biosecurity protocols, and discuss vaccination options with vets.

Farmers who have achieved low risk status continue to be frustrated with the small number who are prolonging the eradication of BVD. The number of low risk herds is however encouraging.

"It shows what can be achieved if everyone plays their part in targeting this costly disease,” he said.