In a recent development, the Northern Ireland Beef and Lamb Farm Quality Assurance Scheme (FQAS) has issued a crucial reminder to its members. The reminder emphasizes the necessity of conducting Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) tests on all animals within their herds before any movement takes place.
The Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC) weekly bulletin disclosed that the UK’s Department of Agriculture, Environment, and Rural Affairs (DAERA) is gearing up to impose a ban on the movement of untested BVD animals. This move aligns with the UK government’s recent announcement, confirming its intention to legislate against the export of live animals for slaughter and fattening.
As of September 1st of this year, cattle that have not been tested for BVD will be strictly prohibited from being transported to slaughterhouses. Any farmers found moving untested BVD animals beyond this date will face prosecution, with market operators, slaughterhouses, and farmers all held accountable under the new legislation.
The LMC highlighted the inherent risks associated with possessing untested animals within a herd, irrespective of the newly introduced restrictions. There is a substantial danger that untested animals may carry persistent BVD infections, thereby posing health and welfare risks to the entire herd and potentially spreading the disease further.
The LMC urged farmers to take proactive steps to safeguard their herds by testing all animals for BVD before any movement occurs. Ensuring the disease status of the herd not only benefits the animals’ health and wellbeing but also makes sound economic sense for the farmers.
To enforce compliance, DAERA has communicated the policy change to all keepers with untested animals, emphasizing the urgent need for testing. Any herd owners found to be in possession of untested BVD animals and convicted of breaching the BVD Eradication Scheme Order (Northern Ireland) 2016 may face suspension from FQAS for up to three years.
In an effort to support farmers, DAERA has provided letters to guide them through the policy change and identify the animals that require testing in their herds.
LMC encouraged all farmers to double-check the BVD status of their cattle before any movement, using either the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) online platform or the Animal Health and Welfare Northern Ireland’s (AHWNI’s) BVD database.
In conclusion, the LMC expressed appreciation for the excellent cooperation of farmers thus far. With continued engagement from farmers and collaboration with DAERA, the industry remains hopeful for the eventual elimination of the BVD virus from the Northern Ireland cattle population in the near future.