All the attention on the bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD) National Eradication Plan in recent days has surprisingly, not focused on last week’s payment announcement.

The level of support payment which will issue to farmers this year to help meet the costs of yet another year of tissue tagging increases by just 40c per head to €2.40 per calf up to a maximum of 25 calves (max payment of €60 per herd).

The announcement has angered farm organisations (see page 9), who state that funding is insufficient. Another big bone of contention among farmers is a lack of dialogue surrounding the future of the programme.

Animal Health Ireland (AHI) insinuated earlier this year that BVD tissue tag testing is likely to be rolled over to 2025, with no indication as to what follows thereafter.

There has also been no update from the Department of Agriculture regarding Ireland’s EU application for BVD free status and what this means for the programme if it is pushed out for another year.

It is understandable that future plans may not be set in stone, but greater communication and farmer engagement regarding these plans is vital to continue to harbour support.

2024 progress

Leaving aside these issues, the eradication programme, coordinated by AHI, has recorded further progress to-date in 2024, with the number of BVD positive calves identified falling by 35% compared to corresponding period in 2023.

As can be seen in the table, there has been 145 calves identified as BVD positive based on an initial tag test result across 70 herds.

If this progress remains on track, then the number of BVD positive calves identified could drop below the 500 head mark and set a significant milestone in being in a position to advance with the application for BVD free status.

One of the challenges identified in 2023 was a number of localised outbreaks involving farms in close proximity, where it is thought disease spread was aided by the movement of people/equipment.

As such, the Department is encouraging farmers to implement robust biosecurity protocols. It is hoped that specialist veterinary assistance provided under the Department’s Targeted Advisory Service on Animal Health (TASAH) will have helped address such issues, and that similar outbreaks will not materialise in 2024.

TASAH programme

While on the subject of the TASAH programme, the Department confirmed last week that the programme operated by AHI will continue in 2024.

The focus area of free on-farm veterinary consultations include “focusing on biosecurity for pig and poultry farms, chronic udder health issues and dry cow consultancy in dairy herds, disease management and control advice in relation to Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD), Johnes Disease, bovine TB, tail biting in pigs and the Salmonella Control Plan (pigs).”

Additional BVD supports

The Department also confirmed continued direct funding for “all necessary ancillary testing for the programme, the full coverage of testing and vaccination costs for herds with test positive animals and supports for the early removal of test-positive animals”.

The criteria regarding supports for dairy bred calves is as follows.

For animals disclosed as BVD test positive or inconclusive in 2023, a payment will be made on supply of payment details following submission of a payment form for each eligible animal that is removed to a knackery, abattoir or meat plant and has a date of death recorded on the AIM system as follows:

  • 11-21 days from the date of latest positive/inconclusive test to slaughter is the cut-off interval for payment/compensation.
  • €160 if the animal is removed within 10 days of the first positive or inconclusive test.
  • Or

  • €30 if the animal is removed between day 11 and 21 of the first positive or inconclusive test.
  • Where the programme may require retesting of an animal, the animal must be removed within three weeks of the most recent BVD positive or inconclusive test result. Any non-compliant animals will not be eligible for payment.

    The criteria for beef bred animals is similar with a higher payment of €220 if the animal is removed within 10 days of the first positive or inconclusive test.