Free BVD testing in Northern Ireland

Free BVD testing is now on offer to randomly selected Northern Irish dairy and suckler herd farmers.

DARD staff will invite randomly selected producers to take part in research into BVD incidence during routine brucellosis testing. Each farmer will be asked to sign a consent form to have free BVD testing carried out on blood samples from 10 animals aged nine to 18 months and complete a 10-minute telephone survey conducted by the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI).Results will be supplied in confidence to the farmer and their vet with a regional summary of results published when the research project is completed.

This project, co-funded by AgriSearch and the DARD Research Challenge Fund, has the backing of key agricultural organisations including the Ulster Farmers’ Union, the National Beef Association and NI Agricultural Producers’ Association.

Noting that major campaigns to reduce and eradicate BVD are already under way in Scotland and the Irish Republic, the stakeholders in NI view this project as the beginning of a similar local effort to improve herd health, dramatically reduce losses and help maximise margins for suckler and dairy herd owners.

BVD virus causes reproductive problems, including infertility, abortions and birth defects in older cattle, scours and pneumonia in calves plus general weakening of the immune system. Calves infected early in pregnancy are born persistently infected (PI) with the virus and many die of mucosal disease later in life.

Worse still, PI youngstock are the most significant source of infection within a herd so control of BVD is based on their detection and removal.