The programme is supported by legislation. Key points include:
• Requirement to test all calves born from 1st January 2013 onwards. In May 2020, legislation was amended to provide for the compulsory BVD testing of all cattle, including those born before the 1st of January 2013. This excludes female animals that have not had one or more calves which tested negative to BVD.
• 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 does the compulsory programme work?
All the official tissue tags for use since 2013 include one which is specially adapted to collect a tissue punch during the tagging process. Samples must be sent to any one of the several laboratories designated for this purpose to be tested for the presence of BVD virus. Where BVD virus positive calves are detected, you will have the option to confirm them as PI with a blood sample taken by a private veterinary practitioner. Further testing will be required in herds with positive 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 isolated and 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.