Over 85% of breeding herds in Ireland have acquired negative herd status, meaning that all animals in the herd have a known negative Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) status, according to Animal Health Ireland (AHI).
In an update issued on Tuesday, AHI said that a further 12% need only to test a small number of animals to achieve negative status.
Significant progress has been made in 2017 toward the eradication of BVD in Ireland.
The prevalence of persistently infected (PI) calves so far this year is 0.1%, as compared to 0.16% in 2016 and 0.66% in 2013 – the first year of the national BVD programme.
At a herd level, only 1.97% of the approximate 83,000 breeding herds have had a positive result this year (compared to an initial prevalence of 11.3% of herds in 2013), AHI outlined.
The net benefit to farmers of this reduction in prevalence in 2017 alone is estimated to be €75m.
Over 2017, AHI said it also seen an increase in the speed with which PI calves have been removed following their identification.
This is in response to the introduction of enhanced measures by the BVD Implementation Group (BVDIG), particularly the higher support payments for removal of PIs within three weeks of the date of the initial positive result and the restricting of herds that retain PIs for more than five weeks and notification of neighbouring herds to review their biosecurity.
Collectively, the reduced prevalence and more rapid removal has resulted in only 95 PIs being alive nationally at the end of November, compared to 337 at the same point last year, with counties such Carlow, Dublin, Louth and Sligo having no PIs alive currently and a number of others with only a single PI.
David Graham, CEO of AHI and chairman of the BVD Implementation Group said: “As we approach the end of the fifth year of the compulsory BVD Eradication Programme, it is important to reflect on progress to date.
“We have seen further advances this year and believe that if this continues, we are on track to meet our target for the eradication of BVD by 2020.”
We must remain vigilant and not become complacent, with the swift identification and removal of PI animals being key to achieving our target.
Dr Graham also reminded farmers of the benefits of obtaining and protecting negative herd status (NHS), which 71,000 herds have so far obtained.
By identifying and testing any animals of unknown status, farmers can obtain NHS and access lower cost testing.
He also noted that appropriate biosecurity measures should be put in place to minimize the risk of accidental introduction of infection to these herds through movement of animals, people or equipment.