Farm Ireland

Sunday 22 April 2018

First PI calf identified by BVD testing programme Caitriona Murphy

Animal Health Ireland's (AHI) fledgling BVD eradication scheme has identified its first persistently infected (PI) animal, just days into the new year.

The PI animal is believed to be an autumn-born calf owned by a farmer who was one of the first to take part in the voluntary scheme.

While no further details about the animal have been released, AHI chief executive Joe O'Flaherty has promised that regular reports will be made public about all PI animals identified through the scheme.

Sales of tissue sample button tags for the scheme have surpassed expectations, with more than 180,000 tags ordered by farmers so far.

Two major publicity campaigns running this week are also expected to boost uptake in the scheme.

Tag orders in the region of 200,000 would represent 10pc of the total annual calf registration and Mr O'Flaherty said AHI was confident that tag orders would exceed this level "comfortably".

"We are very encouraged by the level of uptake so far," he said. "Although we did not have a defined target to meet."

Some 200 tissue samples have been analysed by laboratories participating in the scheme so far.

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The identification of one PI animal from those 200 samples is broadly in line with the assumption that there is a 0.75pc prevalence of BVD in the national herd.

However, Mr O'Flaherty warned that 200 tissue samples was too small a number to draw any conclusions yet.

"We would need to get thousands of samples analysed before we can get reliable data," he said.

AHI is to meet the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney next week to discuss forthcoming legislation for compulsory participation in the scheme in 2013.

Meanwhile, the organisation's website www.animalhealth has been redesigned in recent days to include a comprehensive list of frequently asked questions for farmers interested in the BVD scheme.

Meanwhile, ICSA suckler chairman, Dermot Kelleher, has advised farmers to be extremely wary of disease risk before buying imported livestock.

"All farmers need to think very carefully about buying in imported stock. I am particularly concerned about the risks associated with increased calf imports.

"I believe that all farmers should immediately test imported animals for BVD and Johne's before they allow these animals out of isolation," Mr Kelleher said.

"Farmers who bring imported animals into their herds without being absolutely sure about their disease status are playing with fire.

"The potential economic loss from spreading disease completely outweighs any advantage that may be attributed to imported stock," he warned.

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