Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Tuesday 13 November 2018

Rate of BVD positive calves drops with estimated savings of €85m to sector

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The incidence of BVD in calves born so far this year has halved compared to 2017, new figures from Animal Health Ireland (AHI) show.

While 0.1pc of calves tested last year were positive for BVD, the figure for 2018 is running at 0.05pc.

With close to 2.4m beef and dairy cows to calve this year, this level of infection means that around 1,200 persistently infected (PI) calves will be identified.

The latest figures from AHI are based on the 75pc of cows in the beef and dairy herds that had calved by June 1.

The sharp fall-off in the incidence in BVD will be welcomed by both farmers and the AHI.

AHI has come in for some criticism for the slow progress over the last two years in completing the eradication programme.

The BVD campaign was originally launched in 2013 and was scheduled to run for just three years.

However, the holding of PI animals by a small percentage of farmers has slowed progress towards total eradication.

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While it is estimated that the BVD programme costs farmers up to €9m annually, AHI claimed that the steady reduction in the incidence of the disease since 2013 — when 0.66pc of calves were infected — will be worth around €85m to the farm sector this year alone.

AHI stated that a key focus of the programme over the coming months will be the identification and testing of the small proportion of animals whose BVD status is not known.

Herd owners will be contacted within the next few weeks with details of these animals.

Substantial improvements have been made since 2013 in reducing the extent to which PIs are retained on farm.

Figures up to the end of May show that 156 PIs are still alive on farms, of which only 31 PI animals in 23 herds are being retained beyond five weeks.

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