The national Eradication programme was introduced to help farmers fight the problem of BVD around the country. The programme was introduced at the end of last year and has seen a series of enhancements ever since.
By the end of May this year, there were over 70%(of calves born this year) of calves born and tested and the prevalence of PI births were reduced by almost 50% from 2016. This represents a huge decrease from 0.16% to 0.09%.
The speed in which PI animals are being removed has also increased significantly. This is in response to the introduction of enhanced measures, such as the higher support payments for the removal of PIs within 3 weeks of a positive result.
Also another measure is the restricting of herds that retain Persistently Infected animals for over five weeks.
The majority of PI cattle will die before reaching 2 years of age, either from a condition called mucosal disease (which is unique to PI animals) or a range of other illnesses, particularly scours and pneumonias.
Results from early June show that there were 44 PI animals classified as having been retained for over 5 weeks. This was in 30 different herds altogether. The current total number of PI animals is 237.
CEO of Animal Health Ireland ad Chairman of the BVD implementation group, Mr. Joe O’Flaherty, commented on the outcomes of the programme.
He said the programme has overseen a steady decrease in the continuance of disease and says that with these current rates, eradication could be completed by 2020. He said, “the steady reduction in the prevalence of the disease is continuing in 2017, in line with the figures predicted in the disease model. If this rate of progress continues, eradication by 2020 remains achievable.”
He also added that the low number of 30 herds with PI animals currently shows the success of the programme, “The fact that just 30 herds, from a total of over 83,000 breeding herds, are retaining PIs at this point in time indicates the success of the measures introduced earlier this year.”
Mr. O’Flaherty spoke now with caution and went on to say “in order to consolidate the progress that has been made, we need to accelerate the removal of all PI animals, particularly now that we are in the breeding season when pregnant female animals are entering the risk period between 30 and 120 days of pregnancy during which the PIs that will be born next spring will be created.”
Mr. O’Flaherty followed up by urging all farmers who have known PIs in their herds to remove them immediately.
He concluded by strongly encouraging all herdowners to test any animals of unknown BVD status that they may have in their herds, and to ensure that they put in place appropriate biosecurity measures to reduce the risk of disease introduction.