Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Farmers urged to prepare for compulsory BVD testing

Farmers are being urged to prepare for compulsory bovine viral diarrhea (BVD) testing on cattle, which will come into effect on 1st March.

Sinn Féin councillor Terry Hearty said from that date, all herd owners will be required to tag and test any cattle born on or after that date for bovine viral diarrhea.

“BVD is a major disease that can lead to infertility, lost or weakly new-born calves, it makes cattle more vulnerable to other conditions and costs farmers across the north around £20m a year,” he explained.

“It is particularly damaging to calves born to an infected mother as they can become persistently infected with the disease and are then in turn the main spreaders of it.”

Mr Hearty said the only way to fully eradicate the virus is to remove such animals from herds: “The best way to do this is by testing ear punched samples collected by farmers as part of the official identity tagging process. Samples must be sent for testing within 7 days of being taken and the cost of the test is included in the price of the original tag.  Should a BVD test come back positive farmers are able to submit a supplementary blood test and a follow up test will have to be conducted by a vet.”

Councillor Hearty says it is “extremely important” that farmers cooperate with the scheme, pointing out that anyone found guilty of not testing their animals or knowingly selling an infected animal, will face a £5,000 fine or up to a month in prison.

“Marts will also require you to produce a valid BVD negative certificate when selling cattle and in order to keep your herd disease free you should insist on seeing one when buying cattle,” he said.

“This scheme is in the best interests of farmers so I would urge them all to be aware of it, remember it and comply with it.  If you have any further questions about it you should contact the Department as soon as possible.”