Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue TD has urged farmers to take renewed caution when it comes to Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) as its eradication programme reaches a “critical juncture”.
The Minister suggested that “huge progress has been made and the finishing line [for BVD eradication] is truly in sight”.
However, he warned that the dairy and beef breeding season is the high-risk period for the generation of BVD persistently infected (PI) cattle.
“As the national prevalence of BVD decreases, so too does the natural immunity to BVD. This, coupled with reduced levels of vaccination across the country, means many herds are at increased susceptibility to infection,” he said.
Minister McConalogue warned that the incursion of BVD into susceptible herds with reduced immunity can have “devastating” impacts and lead to the development of further BVD persistently infected cattle.
“In the past number of weeks, epidemiological investigations have identified the emergence of a small number of local clusters of infection, with infection having spread between herds – this is thought to result from the movement of animals, equipment and people.
“In this context, the Department is asking herd owners to refocus on biosecurity – to protect their own herds and support the final push toward BVD freedom,” he said.
The Department of Agriculture is advising farmers which were positive for BVD in 2022 to complete their 2023 vaccination programme.
He said herd owners where infection has been identified should engage with the Animal Health Ireland (AHI) Targeted Advisory Service on Animal Health (TASAH) programme without delay and expedite the removal of all infected cattle.
Herd keepers who have been notified of a BVD positive animal in their neighbourhood – which signals an increased risk to their herd – should seek advice from their veterinary practitioner, to review their biosecurity practices, including vaccination policies, and enhance as necessary.
The Minister insisted that “working with AHI, Irish farmers have made tremendous progress in the elimination of BVD”.
“The programme is now at a critical juncture and I am encouraging all farmers to be mindful of the importance of biosecurity practices including the washing and disinfection of any shared machinery or facilities, to reduce the risk of infection so that we as a country can achieve BVD freedom, providing long term benefit for livestock farmers in the country.”