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Last week, some 7,300 farmers who participated in the voluntary phase of the national BVD programme in 2012 will receive a letter from the BVD Implementation Group updating them on their herd status and testing requirements for 2015.

Negative herd status

From 1st January 2015 these herds will become eligible to qualify for Negative Herd Status (NHS) if they can satisfy the following requirements:

  1.  completion of a minimum of three years of tissue tag testing on calves born into the herd
  2. existence of a negative BVD status for every animal currently in the herd (on the basis of either ‘direct’ or ‘indirect’ results)
  3. absence of any animal(s) deemed to be persistently infected with BVD virus from the herd in the 12 months preceding the acquisition of NHS;

2,140 herd owners will receive confirmation that based on the information held on the ICBF database, they currently qualify for NHS and that this status will be formally assigned on 1st January 2015.

A further 4,321 herd owners will receive a letter informing them that their herd does not currently meet the requirements due to the presence of some animals (typically one to three) without a direct or indirect negative status. These animals can be identified on the ICBF database, allowing them to be sampled by blood or tissue tag in advance of 1st January 2015, and the herd to therefore qualify for NHS, assuming that the test results are negative.

Finally, 816 herd owners will be informed that they cannot qualify for NHS on 1st January 2015, due to the presence of one or more PI animals in their herd during 2014. These herds will become eligible for NHS 12 months from the most recent date of PI removal, subject to the other criteria also being met.

The letters also provide guidance on key biosecurity considerations to prevent reintroduction of infection.

Testing arrangements for 2015

In order to maintain negative herd status, herds must carry out monitoring, following the protocol agreed by the BVD Technical Working Group (TWG) and BVD Implementation Group. The purpose of this testing is to ensure, firstly, that infection is not re-introduced into the herd and, secondly, that PI animals are not inadvertently sold onwards as a result. The protocol determining the monitoring options available to herds will be revised on an annual basis.

For 2015, tag testing of all new-born calves will be the only method used for monitoring NHS herds. This testing is being made available at a reduced cost for those herds that have achieved NHS, compared to those that have not as yet achieved this status. Over the course of 2015, the BVD Implementation Group will communicate with herd owners regarding the monitoring options available for 2016, taking into account further progress in reducing the disease prevalence nationally.

Reduced cost testing for Negative Herd Status herds in 2015

Following discussions between the BVD Implementation Group and the designated laboratories, a number of these have indicated that they are prepared to offer a reduced price for the testing of herds which have achieved Negative Herd Status. This price reduction is possible as a result of the much lower likelihood of positive results being obtained from herds with NHS. The revised prices will be communicated to herdowners in the letters which are now issuing, and an updated price listing will be made available on the AHI website http://www.animalhealthireland.ie/page.php?id=97