The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) has announced that the requirements for exporting cattle from Northern Ireland to EU member states will change in relation to Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD). DAERA has advised that new trade requirements will be in place when the Republic of Ireland (ROI) achieves BVD free status, which is expected to happen in 2024. The BVD eradication program in Ireland was approved by the EU Commission in July 2022, resulting in new export requirements for cattle being moved to the ROI for breeding and production. DAERA has stated that once Ireland achieves formal BVD free status, the export requirements will change again. As a result, the export of any animal that has been vaccinated for BVD during its lifetime will be prohibited. Currently, BVD vaccinated animals can still be exported to Ireland, but this will no longer be the case once BVD free status is achieved. Animals moving directly to slaughter are not affected by these changes.
Cattle owners are advised to consult with their private veterinary practitioners (PVPs) as BVD vaccines are crucial in protecting breeding animals from BVD infection. For many herds, continued use of these vaccines is recommended. Presently, Austria, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and parts of Germany have achieved BVD Free Status. The DAERA website provides comprehensive details regarding the BVD pre-export requirements for cattle being moved to member states with an approved program or disease-free status. Cattle owners are encouraged to discuss how they can meet these requirements with their PVP well in advance of the proposed export date.
BVD is a highly contagious disease that negatively impacts the productivity, profitability, and animal welfare of affected herds. Since the introduction of the compulsory eradication scheme in 2016, the level of BVD in animals across Northern Ireland has decreased by over 50%. DAERA acknowledges that additional measures are necessary and plans to develop a second phase of legislation to further support the eradication of BVD in Northern Ireland.