Great news – Dublin will soon be in a position to request ‘official freedom’ status, where Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) is concerned.
If this is granted, it will represent a major step forward for the Irish cattle industry. In the first instance, it will help open up new markets for Irish beef and dairy exports.
But, in addition, it will also mean that farmers in the Republic of Ireland will, no longer, have to test every calf born in the country for the disease.
In my eyes, this constitutes a win-win scenario for everyone involved.
BVD in Northern Ireland
Meanwhile, north of the border, matters are not so positive at all regarding all matters that are BVD related.
Animal Health and Welfare Northern Ireland (AHWNI) has called on the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) to introduce additional measures to reinforce industry efforts to eradicate the disease locally.
The comments come as latest figures reveal the number of BVD tests carried out by Northern Ireland farmers, during the voluntary and compulsory phases of its BVD Eradication Programme, has passed four million.
Latest analysis from the BVD Implementation Group, convened by AHWNI, indicates that industry advice and actions have driven down numbers of BVD-positives being retained, with 43 BVD-positive animals alive at present retained in 34 herds for over five weeks.
A total of 193 positive animals were recorded as being alive on June 27, 2022.
However, the figures also show that disease incidence increased for nine consecutive months in 2021.
Kicking-in here are factors which get to the very heart of any disease eradication programme.
These include: Virus circulation within breakdown herds; transiently infected cattle being sold from breakdown herds; movement of virus contaminated material between herds; contact between neighbouring cattle; and fraudulent activity around the identity of BVD-positive calves.
It is also worth noting that all of the stakeholder organisations within the north’s livestock sector are playing their part in pushing to have BVD eradicated.
E.g., the retention of persistently infected (PI) calves, for the purposes of the BVD eradication programme, invalidate the relevant farmer’s membership of the Northern Ireland Farm Quality Assurance Scheme (NIFQAS).
This step was taken by the Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC) some months ago.
But the bottom line remains that BVD is a significant production threat to Northern Ireland’s dairy and beef sectors.
The good news is that it can be eradicated. The recent developments in Dublin represent confirmation of this reality. But the work must start now.