New supports and rules under the BVD Eradication Programme

FarmIreland Team

The Department of Agriculture recently announced new rules and increased supports for the early removal of PI (persistently infected) calves under the national Bovine Viral Disease (BVD) Eradication Programme in 2017.

The progress to-date in the eradication effort, which has seen the incidence of PIs fall by 75pc since 2013, has resulted in very substantial savings to farmers, currently estimated at €66m per year, and these savings will increase further in the years ahead as the incidence of the disease continues to decline”. 

The new support arrangements are as follows:


  • €150 if the female dairy and dairy cross calves are removed within 21 days (3 weeks) of the first positive or inconclusive test.
  • €35 if the female dairy and dairy cross calves are removed between day 22 & 35 (the 4th and 5th week) of the first positive or inconclusive test.
  • It is also proposed to offer €30 towards the disposal of the dairy bull PI through the abattoir or knackery within 21 days of the first positive or inconclusive test.


  • €185 if the calf is removed within 21 days (3 weeks) of the first positive or inconclusive test.
  • €60 if the calf is removed between day 22 & 35 (4th and 5th week) of the first positive or inconclusive test.

New Rules

Herd Restrictions

The Department will be embarking on a system of automatic restrictions that will apply five weeks following the date of the original positive or inconclusive test. 

This avoids an immediate unanticipated close down of the herd, provides a window such that animals may be retested if required and acknowledges the bio-security concerns about retention of positive animals.  Automatic de-restriction will follow removal of the PI. 

An automatic system is also being put in place for the bio-security notification of contiguous herds where necessary.  Work on these systems is underway and delivery is expected by 31 January 2017.

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Confirmatory testing

The BVD Implementation Group request that the system of confirmatory testing would continue to be available, where a farmer wishes to avail of it. 

However in order to enhance the confirmatory process, this will be done through blood sampling, rather than repeat tissue tagging.

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine will fund a system of blood sampling (undertaken by a Private Veterinary Practitioner (PVP) who will take bloods from the calf and the dam), providing additional funding to pay for the PVP visit, sampling and the test.

Mandatory Herd Investigations under the TASAH

The Department also confirmed to the BVD Implementation Group that a trained PVP will conduct a mandatory farm herd investigation once a PI is disclosed. 

The Department will work with Animal Health Ireland to expedite herd investigations and will aim to have these completed within 3 months of the first positive test result. 

In addition, the Department will work with ICBF on providing a system of sharing relevant information with veterinary practitioners investigating infected herds.

BVD laws

The programme is supported by legislation.

  • Requirement to test all calves born from 1st January 2013 onwards
  • Ban on sale of calves without a negative result
  • Follow up testing where PIs (persistently infected animals) are identified

What is BVD?

BVD virus is the cause of an important viral disease of cattle that is estimated to cost Irish farmers around €102M each year.

How is it spread?

Calves become persistently infected (PI) when their mother is exposed to the virus during the second to fourth month of pregnancy (or if the mother is PI). PI cattle are the main source of infection within herds and means of spread between herds.

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