The new animal health law (AHL) which comes into force in April 2021 sets out the requirements for recognition of BVD eradication programmes at EU level for the first time. As the BVD programme reaches its final stages, the BVD Implementation Group (BVDIG) plans to apply for recognition of the Irish programme in 2021 and to meet the conditions for freedom by 2023. This includes having negative herd status (NHS) for 99.8% of all herds (currently over 95% of breeding herds) representing at least 99.9% of cattle and would bring to an end compulsory tissue tag testing for the majority of herds after 2022. To achieve this goal, the BVDIG has developed a series of enhanced measures to:

  • Maximise the proportion of herds (including non-breeding herds) with NHS.
  • Rapidly identify and resolve the small number of herds with positive/inconclusive results in 2021 and 2022 and minimise the risk of onward transmission of infection.
  • Key messages for all herds

    The key messages below apply to all herds in 2021, with a focus on prompt testing of calves and increasing the proportion of herds with NHS by testing animals of unknown status, including those born before 1 January 2013:

  • Tissue tag testing remains compulsory for 2021.
  • Tissue tag test all calves as soon as possible after birth. Where positive or inconclusive results are obtained, remove these promptly to obtain the higher level of financial support provided by the Department of Agriculture. Confirmatory testing of these animals is no longer permitted.
  • Negative herd status: Herds will be required to be free of confirmed cases for 18 months instead of 12 months. This change is necessary to align with the AHL.
  • Test animals of unknown status to obtain NHS: Around 5% of herds contain small numbers of animals that either do not have a valid test result or have not yet produced a negative calf. The presence of these animals prevents herds attaining NHS and accessing lower-cost testing. It is now a legal requirement to test animals of unknown status born before 2013, in addition to those born after this date.
  • Review biosecurity to minimise the risk of accidental introduction of BVD virus, with a focus on the movement of animals, people (including the farmer) or equipment across farm boundaries.
  • Key messages for herds with positive or inconclusive results

  • Immediate herd restriction and neighbour notification. The Department will restrict movements both in and out. While restricted, movements out of the herd to slaughter or to non-breeding herds may be granted on a case-by-case basis under permit by the RVO, provided that the animals move directly to their destination. Neighbouring herds will immediately receive a biosecurity notification informing them of their increased risk, and on a monthly basis thereafter in the absence of removal of animal(s) with positive or inconclusive results.
  • Isolation and removal of all animals with an initial positive or inconclusive test result – re-testing of these animals is no longer permitted. Remove them promptly to obtain the higher level of financial support provided by the Department.
  • Beef herds

  • €220 for beef breed animals removed with a registered date of death on AIM within 10 days of the initial test, reducing to €30 if removed between 11 and 21 days after the initial test.
  • Dairy herds

  • €160 if removed within 10 days of the initial test, reducing to €30 if removed between 11 and 21 days after the initial test.
  • €30 for removal of bull calves within 14 days of the initial test.
  • Cleaning and disinfection of buildings and handling facilities that may have been contaminated as soon as practicable, but in advance of the next breeding season.
  • Conditions for lifting of restrictions

  • These will be lifted following completion of each of the following three measures by a nominated trained private veterinary practitioner (PVP), beginning at least three weeks after removal of the animal with positive or inconclusive results, and fully funded by the Department/Rural Development programme (RDP):
  • Whole herd test: Blood sampling and testing of all animals in the herd with negative results, or removal of any further virus-positive or inconclusive animals identified.
  • Epidemiological investigation: Conducted under the Targeted Advisory Service on Animal Health (TASAH) within the RDP.
  • Vaccination of all female animals aged 12 months old and above by the nominated PVP.
  • Continued herd measures

    Following the lifting of restrictions, herds are required to:

  • Continue to tissue tag test for a minimum of 24 months after the removal of the last animal with positive or inconclusive results.
  • Continue the vaccination programme in the herd in the following year, with this again delivered by the PVP and funded by the Department.
  • Not sell any potential Trojan female (ie one that was in calf at the time of the birth of the animals with positive or inconclusive results) until its calf has been born and tested for BVD.
  • Calfcare virtual week – 18-21 January

    Animal Health Ireland (AHI) and Teagasc are working together to run their annual series of CalfCare events this month.

    This time however, we are going virtual and covering a wider range of topics relating to calf health. The events over the week will be a combination of webinars, videos, podcasts and supporting newspaper articles. To register for the webinars, visit