National Eradication Programme

19-06-2015 Andrew Merrigan, Peter Fogarty, Gareth Byrne, Elsa Byrne, Gorey, Co. Wexford, at the Irish Pure Fresians Breeders Association Open Day on Bill O Keeffe's farm at Clara, Co. Kilkenny. Photo: Adrian Melia


The programme is supported by legislation. Key points include:

• Requirement to test all calves born from 1st January 2013 onwards

• Ban on sale of calves without a negative result

• Follow up testing where PIs (persistently infected animals) are identified

What is BVD?
BVD virus is the cause of an important viral disease of cattle that is estimated to cost Irish farmers around €102M each year.

How is it spread?
Calves become persistently infected (PI) when their mother is exposed to the virus during the second to fourth month of pregnancy (or if the mother is PI). PI cattle are the main source of infection within herds and means of spread between herds.

How can it be eradicated?
The key is to identify and remove PI cattle from the national herd. This can be done cost-effectively by testing ear punch samples collected by you as part of the official identity tagging process.

How will the compulsory programme work?
When you receive official tissue tags for use in 2013 one of the tags will be specially adapted to collect a tissue punch during the tagging process. (Note: a new applicator may be required). Samples must be sent to any one of the several laboratories designated for this purpose. Where BVD virus positive calves are detected, you will have the option to confirm them as PI. Further testing will be required in herds with PI calves. Results will be issued by ICBF using SMS (text) messages and letters.

What happens to PI calves?
While apparently normal at birth, PI calves often become ill-thrifty and die before reaching slaughter weight. During this time they remain a source of infection for other cattle, which may lead to the birth of further PI calves. It is recommended that PI cattle are culled as soon as possible after being identified.

Where can I find out more information?
Further information, including details of the currently designated laboratories, will be sent to you with your delivery of tags. Information is also available from your local veterinary practitioner, the farming press and by clicking here.

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