IBR restrictions pose new threat to live shipping trade
A national programme to eradicate IBR is in the pipeline following new disease restrictions on the Continent that could prevent the live-shipping of Irish stock.
Belgium is the latest EU country to opt for Article 9 status, which bans the import or movement of animals from countries that do not have IBR control programmes in place.
While Belgium was an outlet for 22,000 Irish calves last year, it is the possibility that France will follow with a similar ban in the coming months that poses the most serious threat to Ireland's €180m live export trade.
"We're assuming that France will get this," said Animal Health Ireland's deputy CEO, David Graham.
"There's a raft of activity within Brussels on this issue, but we have no intelligence yet on what each country is planning to do," he said.
It is estimated that up to 80pc of herds in Ireland have IBR (Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis), which is often present at a sub-clinical level in herds.
Symptoms for the virus include runny noses and secondary pneumonia infections.
Unofficial estimates suggest that the disease is costing Irish farmers tens of millions annually in reduced output, as well as compromising the genetic gain in the cattle herd and the sales opportunities for Irish AI companies.