The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has backed the decision that compulsory testing for bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD) will be introduced in Northern Ireland.

Agriculture minister Michelle O’Neill made the announcement following a consultation in which the BVA and its Northern Ireland branch called for BVD testing to become compulsory, for a ban on breeding from any known infected animals (known as persistently infected, or PI, animals), and for BVD to become a notifiable disease.

The announcement comes weeks after the Scottish Government announced new control measures as part of its BVD eradication programme, which BVA supports.

BVA president Robin Hargreaves said: “Eradicating BVD will lead to increased production efficiency and better herd health, and has the potential to save the cattle industry millions of pounds.

“Most eradication programmes begin with voluntary measures and progress to compulsory measures to ensure compliance across the whole of the industry.

With Scotland and Northern Ireland now engaged in compulsory BVD eradication schemes we hope the rest of the UK will look to learn from these examples.”

Sandra Dunbar, president of BVA Northern Ireland branch, added: “When we met with Minister O’Neill recently we told her the BVD eradication scheme has the full backing of the veterinary profession and she acknowledged the important role that vets are already playing in educating clients about the benefits of BVD eradication.

“We are pleased efforts are being coordinated with the Republic of Ireland, alongside other disease eradication programmes.

“Vets in Northern Ireland are ready to offer ongoing advice and support to clients on all aspects of disease management and eradication, including testing and biosecurity.”

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