From 1 September 2021, cattle that have not been tested for Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) will not be allowed to move to a local slaughterhouse, Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots has announced.

It is the latest move designed to put pressure on a small number of farmers to comply with requirements around BVD testing.

In 2018, local meat plants confirmed that they would no longer slaughter cattle persistently infected (PI) with the disease, while in 2020 the LMC said that it would remove the farm quality assurance status of farms that retain PI calves more than 35 days after an initial positive test.

The most recent data from Animal Health and Welfare NI indicates that there are just under 6,000 older cattle in NI with a BVD untested status (BVDU). That is around half the figure from the same period in 2020.

This BVDU status is only applied to cattle born after compulsory testing came into force in March 2016, and for which either no testing was done, or the sample sent in was empty.

Under current rules, these cattle cannot move to another farm, or a local mart.

They can be sampled using a supplementary tissue tag or by a blood test done by a private vet.

BVD legislation in NI requires that all calves must be tested for BVD within 20 days of birth, with the sample sent to an approved laboratory within the following seven days.

DAERA is to write to farmers who own untested cattle explaining the policy change.

From 1 September on, where a BVDU animal is presented for slaughter, it will be flagged on APHIS to the official veterinarian “to initiate enforcement action that may lead to prosecution.”

PI calves alive

Despite all the rules and requirements, BVD remains a threat and some farmers continue to retain PI animals. The latest data shows that the number of PI calves alive on NI farms has risen by over 50% since January 2021. Counties Armagh and Fermanagh are the worst affected.

The BVD Implementation Group has again called on DAERA to bring in new legislation that would allow information on BVD breakdowns to be shared with neighbouring farmers.

Read more

DAERA tightens in on BVD offenders

16,000 NI cattle with BVD status unknown