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Wednesday 12 December 2018

Baffling surge in 'empty' BVD samples from cattle tags

The IFA has asked the Department of Agriculture for an investigation to determine the cause of the problem. Stock picture
The IFA has asked the Department of Agriculture for an investigation to determine the cause of the problem. Stock picture
There has been an increase in the fail rate of BVD testing. Image: Getty Images.

Martin Ryan

A major surge in the 'failure' rate of BVD ear tag tissue samples in laboratory testing in 2017 has left farmers and industry sources baffled.

The IFA has asked the Department of Agriculture for an investigation to determine the cause of the problem which it claims is "going to add a huge cost" to farmers.

A spokesperson for the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed confirmed that 21,074 tag tissue samples submitted by farmers for BVD testing in 2017 were found to be "empty" - meaning no tissue was available for analysis.

This represents a 60pc increase on the fail rate in 2016 which had been on a downward slide.

Investigation

The fail rate for 2016 was 13,000 tags continuing the downward pattern of prior years.

Tomas Bourke, executive secretary of IFA Animal Health Committee said "something went wrong and it is not the farmers' fault so we have asked for an investigation by the department".

A spokesperson for the minister dismissed the request however, describing the fail rate as "not significant".

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Eurotags, the largest supplier, confirmed there was no change in the tags supplied, while Cormac Tagging said the empty tags issue was unexplainable because "the tissue sample is clearly visible within the capsule" of the tags which it supplied.

Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture has confirmed the incidence of BVD in calves tested in 2017 was "down to 0.1pc".


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