Voluntary testing begins in bid to eradicate BVD

Caitriona Murphy

The National BVD Eradication Programme will start on a voluntary basis next January before moving to a compulsory phase in 2013.

The eradication programme, which was launched at the Ploughing Championships last week, will consist of three years of tissue tag testing of calves followed by a further three years of surveillance.

The surveillance will be carried out through bulk milk tank testing or blood sampling.

Herds with negative tissue tag test results will require minimal further sampling at the end of the three-year intensive sampling period.

However, herds with positive tests during this period will require additional testing to identify and remove any further persistently infected (PI) cattle.

Around 25pc of herds are expected to require additional testing, according to Animal Health Ireland.

The ear notch tissue tags will form part of the official identity tagging process and results from the tissue tag tests will be sent to ICBF, which will then notify the farmer.

Herds that voluntarily test all calves born next year will be deemed to have completed the first of the three-year tagging phase and will be in a position to enter the monitoring phase in 2015, a year earlier than those that delay participation until 2013.

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Non-PI animals are expected to attract a market premium compared to calves of unknown status.

BVD costs farmers on average €30 per suckler cow and €48 per dairy cow, equating to a loss of more than €100m across the industry.

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