Compulsory bovine viral diarrhoea virus (BVDV) testing in newborn calves has come into effect in Northern Ireland.
The latest weapon in the region’s BVDV eradication programme will cover all newborn, stillborn and aborted calves to help ensure herds reach their full potential and improve disease control.
Michelle O’Neill, minister for the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD), announced the strategy to industry representatives at Stormont and conceded the move would, in the short-term, increase costs including veterinary bills.
“I accept some farmers may be concerned about initial costs to be incurred by testing their herd and removing persistently infected animals,” she said.
“However, strong evidence indicates the financial gains that can be made by herd keepers through eradicating BVDV can outweigh the initial costs by a ratio of 10 to 1.”
The BVA and the BVA Northern Ireland branch have both welcomed the start of the compulsory move.
BVA Northern Ireland Branch president Seamus O’Kane said: “The introduction of compulsory BVDV testing is a part of the joined-up DARD, profession and industry approach crucial for the delivery of a successful eradication programme in Northern Ireland.
“We welcome the minister’s commitment to disease control and hope we will see similar successes as we did with our Officially Brucellosis Free declaration.”
BVA president Sean Wensley added: “Vets and farmers have been well engaged with the process so far to control BVDV and keen to see it progress. The announcement for a compulsory BVDV testing scheme was made more than two years ago, so we are pleased to see the rollout of the legislation.”
The programme was formulated after an industry-wide DARD consultation exercise on the proposals in 2014, which was overwhelmingly in favour of introducing legislation to make the programme compulsory.