ANIMAL HEALTH IRELAND Contributing to a profitable and sustainable farming and agri-food sector through improved animal health

Stakeholders' NEWSLETTER

Events and Media


P8 Focus on TWG Members - Jose Maria

(Chema) Lozano

- Laura


AHI Programme Updates P9

→ Beef HealthCheck → BVD → CellCheck → IBR

→ Johne’s Disease

→ Pig HealthCheck → Biosecurity → CalfCare

Animal Health Ireland, 4-5 The Archways, Carrick-on-Shannon, Co. Leitrim, N41 WN27 Phone 071 9671928 | Email nmorgan@animalhealthireland.ie | Website www.animalhealthireland.ie


Contributing to a profitable and sustainable farming and agri-food sector through improved animal health

Animal Health Ireland, 4-5 The Archways, Carrick-on-Shannon, Co. Leitrim, N41 WN27 Phone 071 9671928 Email nmorgan@animalhealthireland.ie


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Events And Media

Focus on Technical Working Group Members

Beef HealthCheck




Johne’s Disease

Pig HealthCheck




Dr David Graham, CEO, Animal Health Ireland

W elcome to the third editions of our Stakeholders' Newsletter for 2019, which provides an update on activities during this quarter, which presents updates on our priority programmes and other work areas, with continued activity and progress across these as described in detail in each of the reports. This quarter has seen significant changes within AHI, in terms of both personnel and programmes. Lorna Citer, the JD programmemanager, has completed her contract; we wish her well as she and Peter, her husband, return to Australia. Shehas been replacedLawrenceGavey, a fellow Australian with extensive experience in working with JD, who joined the team in August. Lawrence has been busy getting to grips with the programme and presents his first report in this newsletter. A further addition to the team has been Dr. Carla Gomes, who has been appointed as programme manager for Pig HealthCheck. Involvement with the pig sector is a new departure for AHI, made possible through the introduction of a levy, matched by DAFM to fund this work and we look forward to developing a work programme to build on the

biosecurity and tail docking risk assessments that are the first elements of activity in this sector. Duringthisperiodtherehasbeenanemphasisontraining, with a series of events for practitioners relating to JD, CellCheck, pigs and even poultry (to enable practitioners to deliver biosecurity assessments to commercial flocks). We look forward to seeing this training being applied over the remainder of this year and beyond, particularly in relation to uptake and delivery of the funded Dry Cow Consults available to herdowners to help them develop their farm specific drying off strategy. A conference to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the establishment of AHI will take place in the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland on the 23rd of October. This will provide use with an opportunity to reflect on the significant, quantifiable progress made in a number of programmes, and also to take the first steps in identifying additional future areas of activity. We look forward to working with all of our stakeholders as we progress this discussion.



Events and Media

Gráinne Dwyer, Communications and Event Manager

Moorepark Open Day AHI attended the Teagasc Moorepark Open Day in July where we were presenting on various aspects of both the CellCheck and Johne’s disease control programme in the Animal Health Village. AMR was the main focus of the CellCheck presentation. The opportunitywas used to inform farmers on the importance of prudent antibiotic usage on their farms and in particular at ‘drying-off’. The RDP funded TASAH Dry Cow Consult was actively promoted. This consult allows all eligible dairy farmers who meet the criteria, to avail of a free three hour consultation with a trained veterinary practitioner. The focus of this consultation is to develop a drying off strategy for the farm that considers the adoption of selective dry cow therapy. Promotion of the Irish Johne’s Control Programmewas the focus of the second AHI stand. Lorna Citer, the Programme Manager, spoke to farmers, explained the financial supports available and answered questions on other programme- related queries and on JD, the disease. In addition, with the help and assistance of Moorepark students, an awareness and attitudinal survey on Johne’s disease was conducted of farmers attending the Open Day. In addition to AHI representatives speaking in the Animal Health Village, we also had representation in the ‘Industry Section’ where we engaged with farmers, provided information leaflets on all aspects of AHI’s work and answered many of their queries in relation to our various programmes.

Lorna Citer, JD Programme Manager with Natascha Meunier, Beef HealthCheck Programme Manager attending Moorepark Open Day

Mike Magan, Nuala Morgan and Nicola McKeon attending Moorepark Open Day



Moorepark Open Day | Gurteen Open Day

Catherine McAloon and Frank O'Sullivan (both CellCheck TWG members) attending and speaking on AMR and CellCheck in the Animal Health Village

Gurteen open day In August, AHI was invited to attend the Arrabawn farm walk and Open Day in Gurteen Agricultural College, Roscrea. The focus of our information stand was to promote participation in the Irish Johne’s Control Programme and provide information on other aspects of our work. Attending theevent inGurteenCollegewasLawrence Gavey, the newly appointed JD programme manager who is taking over from Lorna Citer. Both had the unique experience of meeting Noel McGrath, member of the All-Ireland winning Tipperary hurling team with the Liam McCarthy Cup.

Lawrence Gavey, Noel McGrath and Lorna Citer attending the Arrabawn Open Day



Upcoming Events | AHI Training

Upcoming Events A nationwide series of 14 CellCheck on-farm events commenced on the 30th of September. The events are in partnership with Teagasc and 10 Dairy Coops supporting the events in their region – Arrabawn, Aurivo, Centenary Thurles, Dairygold, Glanbia, Kerry, Lakeland Dairies, Lisavaird/ Carbery, North Cork Creameries and Tipperary Coop. The topics include: Practical demonstrations on how best to dry off cows; Irish research on strategies for selective dry-cow therapy; Antibiotics – what the future holds; Using records to dry-off successfully. All events commence at 11am. See below for full details of dates and host farmer details. AHI Training Veterinary and service provider training continues to be one of the key elements in our work with several training sessions held over the past three months. A Johne’s Disease VRAMP training session was held in Gurteen Agricultural College, Roscrea and there was one CellCheck Stage 2 training session held in Portlaoise. Under the TASAH training programme, we held three Johne’s training sessions for AVPs while five CellCheck training sessions where held during September. These trained veterinary practitioners will now be equipped and ready to commence Dry Cow Consults which are scheduled to start in October this year.

CELLCHECK ON-FARM EVENTS Teagasc | Animal Health Ireland

Rule changes to antibiotic use on dairy farms are coming ARE YOU READY?




If you want to learn more about any of these topics, come along to one of the Animal Health Ireland/Teagasc CellCheck Open Days



FOR INFORMATION: www.animalhealthireland.ie 071 96 71928

NATIONAL MASTITIS CONTROL PROGRAMME AnimalHealth Ireland,4-5TheArchways,Carrick-on-Shannon,Co.Leitrim,N41WN27

CELLCHECK ON-FARM EVENTS Teagasc | Animal Health Ireland Rule changes to antibiotic use on dairy farms are coming ARE YOU READY?

ON FARM VENUE | START TIME: 11.00 AM Patrick & Noreen Cronin, Cahirkereen, Kilnamartyra, Macroom, Co Cork. SupportedbyDairygold Peter Hughes & Paul Maguire, Carron, Tipperary, Co. Tipperary. SupportedbyTipperaryCo-op Thomas & Christine Curran, Churchquarter, Cappagh, Dungarvan, Co. Waterford. SupportedbyGlanbia Ireland John O’Connor, Ballindrohid Farm, Currans, Farranfore, Co. Kerry. SupportedbyKerryAgribusiness John & Jimmy Bourke, Rathcunikeen, Two-Mile-Borris, Thurles, Co. Tipperary. SupportedbyCentenaryThurles



P12 XW98

E34 FH94

X35 R620

V93 EN22

E41 W253

Donal Buckley, Mountnorth, Ballyclough, Co. Cork. SupportedbyDairygold Jonathan Nyhan, Reacarrigeen, Ballinascarthy, Co. Cork. Supportedby Lisavaird/Carbery William Stack, Moyvane South, Listowel, Co Kerry. SupportedbyNorthCorkCreameries Salesian Agricultural College, Pallaskenry, Co. Limerick. SupportedbyKerryAgribusiness

P51 FX52

P85 Y516

V31 TD60

V94 X991

Martin Davin, Eglish, Rathdowney, Co. Laois. SupportedbyGlanbia Ireland

R32 YE00

KevinMuldoon&MellaBriscoe, Cloncela,Ballycrissane,Portumna,Co.Galway. SupportedbyArrabawn

H53 CP21

This seriesofCellCheckevents isbeing runwith thehelpand supportof the localCo-op ineach region.

NATIONAL MASTITIS CONTROL PROGRAMME AnimalHealth Ireland,4-5TheArchways,Carrick-on-Shannon,Co.Leitrim,N41WN27



Focus on Technical Working Group Members

Name | Jose Maria (Chema) Lozano Profession | Central Veterinary Research Laboratory, Backweston, Co. Kildare TWG Membership | BVD

monitoring of private laboratories carrying out TSE testing, moving on into other areas where National reference Laboratory requirements would involve monitoring and auditing of external laboratories. In 2014 he joined the Virology Division of the Central Veterinary Research Laboratory in DAFM where he took up diagnostic duties and an advisory and policy role on statutory testing for viral diseases. He is particularly involved in the day to day running of the National Reference Laboratory for BVD, including liaison with other sections within DAFM and other stakeholders, and technical monitoring of BVD designated laboratories. After the completion of her PhD in 2015, she worked as a Post-doctoral researcher in UCD with the purpose of developing a vaccine against Fasciola hepatica infection. During this period she gained experience in the field of immunology and immunological laboratory techniques. In November 2017, she joined the Central Veterinary Research Laboratory of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. Since then she has been involved in national reference laboratory activities in the Virology Division, control of exotic and endemic viral diseases, EU surveillance programmes and diagnostic duties with a focus on poultry and ruminant viral diseases.

Jose Maria (Chema) Lozano is originally from Zaragoza, Spain. He completed his veterinary studies in the University of Zaragoza. After a couple of years of large animal practice in the north of Spain, he completed a PhD in ruminant reproduction and nutrition in the University of Zaragoza. Following this, between 1998 and 2004, Chema completed various research projects on ruminant reproduction and neuroendocrinology in UCD and the University of Glasgow. In 2004, he joined the Veterinary Laboratory Service of the Department of Agriculture (DAFM) in Ireland and has worked there ever since. He was initially involved in the Internal Audit Unit with particular responsibility on the Laura GarzaCuartero obtained her veterinary degree (DVM) in 2009 from the Veterinary Faculty, University of Zaragoza (Spain). After that she was awarded a Leonardo grant to undertake an internship at the School of Veterinary Medicine at University College Dublin with the aim of comparing diagnostic techniques for Cryptosporidium spp. infection in farm animals. At the same university she undertook a PhD to study the co-infection of Fasciola hepatica infection and bovine tuberculosis. The objective was to decipher the immune-modulatory mechanisms of F. hepatica infection on the response of bovine macrophages to Mycobacterium bovis infection.

Name | Laura GarzaCuartero Profession | Central Veterinary Research Laboratory, Backweston, Co. Kildare TWG Membership IBR



Programme Update Beef HealthCheck

Dr Natascha Meunier, Programme Manager

T o date, 475,000 cattle have been recorded as part of the Beef HealthCheck programme with an average of 13,000 animals per week. During this quarter, the overall prevalence of liver fluke damage was 10% in all animals reported and live liver fluke was seen in 1% of animals. This year has seen a decrease in liver fluke reported compared to previous years, which is particularly apparent in younger stock (Figure 1). This decrease is likely due to environmental conditions being less favourable for the parasite and the host snail over the previous season due to the hot dry summer. Older animals are still at higher risk of being exposed to liver fluke, with an increasing risk over time. Beef animals also showed higher risk of infection compared to dairy animals at the same age, with the difference more notable for animals over 3 years of age (Figure 2). There could be a number of reasons for this including geographic location, parasite control and pasture management. Liver abscesses were seen in 4% of animals slaughtered this quarter. Dairy animals were more likely to have liver abscesses at slaughter (5%) than beef animals (3.5%). This trend was seen for both young stock and older animals. Pneumonia was recorded for 1% of animals slaughtered this quarter. The Beef HealthCheck programme had a presence at the National Ploughing Championships this September in association with our partner factories. This gave us an opportunity to speak directly to farmers with any queries about the programme and to promote the availability of the online BHC tools to farmers. AHI took part in the BETTER Beef Technical Day with Teagasc for the group of beef farmers taking part in the BETTER farm programme. We covered information about the Beef HealthCheck programme and parasite control, with time available for a practical discussion, including topics such as anthelmintic resistance and appropriate use of anthelmintics.

This year has seen a decrease in liver fluke reported compared to previous years... Liver abscesses were seen in 4% of animals slaughtered this quarter. Dairy animals were more likely to have liver abscesses at slaughter (5%) than beef animals (3.5%).



Programme Update Beef Healthcheck

Figure 1. Liver fluke reported in the BHC programme for young stock (<30 months at slaughter)

Figure 2. Reported percentage of liver fluke damage by age at slaughter in beef and dairy animals



Programme Update BVD

Dr Maria Guelbenzu, Programme Manager

Results By the end of Q3 of 2019 just over 2.11 million calves had been tested, representing approximately 90% of the anticipated calf crop for the year. The prevalence of PI births in 2019 continues to decline relative to previous years, with only 0.04% of calves tested this year being found to be persistently infected (PI) with BVDV (as compared to 0.06% in 2018) (Figure 3a), with these being located in 0.73% of 83,000 breeding herds (compared to 1.1% in 2018). This represents a decrease in PI prevalence of more than sixteen-fold since the start of the compulsory phase of the programme in 2013, when 0.66% of calves born were PI. At the end of the quarter, there were 48 PIs alive in 26 herds (Figure 3b). Updated programme results are available on a weekly basis online click here .

Figure 3a. Map showing distribution of PI births during 2019 until the 30th September 2019.

Figure 3b. Map showing distribution of PIs alive at 30th September 2019.

Each hexagon represents an area of approximately 10km2.



Programme Update BVD

Animals of not known BVD status Over 99.5% of the 6M bovine animals in Ireland have now a BVD status, either direct or indirect. At the end of the quarter there were close to 18,200 animals whose BVD status was not known. These fall into two groups (Figure 4). The first consists of a decreasing number of animals born before the start of the compulsory programme in 2013 that have neither been tested nor produced a calf. At the end of Q3 the number of these animals was just below 4,500. The majority of these animals are in beef herds, and the majority are also male. Although currently there is no legal requirement to test such animals, this will change in the coming months. The second group consists of 13,684 animals born after 2013 (with over 11,000 having been born in 2019) and are therefore required, by law, to be tested. The majority of these have never been tested, while a small number have had an initial empty result and have not been retested. Nearly 82% of these animals are 2019-born, with smaller numbers from preceding years. Herd owners can check their herd’s details in ICBF and find out the BVD status of all the animals in the herd by accessing their own account. For a full guide please click here .

The prevalence of PI births in 2019

continues to decline relative to previous years, with only 0.04% of calves tested this year being found to be persistently infected (PI) with BVDV

Figure 4. Distribution of animals over 35 days old whose BVD status is not known by date of birth (pre or post 2013), herd type and sex.



Programme Update BVD

Negative herd status (NHS) Reflecting the reduction in both PI births and the number of animals with an unknown status, the number of herds acquiring negative herd status (NHS) has increased. Herds qualify for negative herd status (NHS) by meeting the following requirements: 1. Existence of a negative BVD status for every animal currently in the herd (on the basis of either ‘direct’ or ‘indirect’ results) 2. 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. By the end of Q3 2019, over 92% of herds had acquired NHS, with a further 5,900 only being ineligible due to the presence of a small number of untested animals, as described above. Over the next few weeks, DAFM will issue letters to those herds that contain any animal whose BVD status is not known. It is critical that these animals are tested in the coming months, since the absence of results for them is preventing these herds from achieving NHS. The annual TB test provides an ideal opportunity to identify and sample these animals, and a number of measures are planned to assist veterinary practitioners to more readily identify these animals. While an important programme milestone for any herd, NHS also brings with it an economic benefit, with a number of laboratories that use the RT-PCR test method offering testing at reduced costs to herds with NHS click here . Targeted Advisory Service on Animal Health (TASAH) During 2019 all herds with positive results were offered an RDP-funded TASAH herd investigation by a trained veterinary practitioner. These investigations seek to review herd biosecurity, identify a plausible source or sources of infection, ensure that the herd is left free from BVDV and agree farm-specific measures to prevent its re- introduction. Investigations have now been completed for over 408 herds with positive results in 2019. A small number have not been completed within the 3 months allocated and these are now being contacted to progress the investigations. If not completed after a further 4 weeks, these investigations will be completed by DAFM. BVD Technical Working Group During this quarter, the BVD TWG submitted a response to the public consultation on the proposed Delegated Regulation that supplements the Animal Health Law as regards disease notification, reporting, surveillance, eradication programmes, and conditions for recognition and maintenance of disease-free status of countries and areas. This Regulation will define the basis on which Member States such as Ireland may apply for official recognition by the Commission of the national BVD eradication programme, the requirements for recognition of freedom and subsequent surveillance. The final text of this Regulation is expected to be published before the end of 2019. The BVD TWG has prepared a proposal on a range of enhancement measures for the 2020 programme which has been presented to the BVD Implementation Group for consideration. The objective of these is to achieve eradication of BVD and to prepare for future surveillance.



Programme Update CellCheck

Finola McCoy, Programme Manager

M uch of the CellCheck activity this quarter involved preparation for the autumn delivery of Dry Cow consults (delivered through the Targeted Advisory Service on Animal Health, funded by the Rural Development Programme and coordinated by Animal Health Ireland). The application process for consults opened in August, with some minor changes to the eligibility criteria, based on a review of last year’s registration process and consult outcomes. Applications can be made online click here or by post, and herd eligibility criteria for the 2019 Dry Cow Consults are as follows: • Average bulk milk tank SCC for the previous 12 months is <200,000 cells/mL • At least 4 whole herd milk recordings in the previous 12 months • HerdPlus member. Analysis of the udder health outcomes for herds that participated in the Dry Cow consult in 2018 also continues. An additional five CellCheck TASAH training events for veterinary practitioners were held around the country. These events were all fully subscribed, bringing the number of PVPs trained to deliver TASAH-funded CellCheck Dry Cow Consults to over 210. A refresher webinar was also held for veterinary practitioners that participated in CellCheck TASAH training in 2018. Following much planning and preparation, the first of a series of 14 autumn on-farmevents, in partnershipwith Teagasc and the processors, commenced at the end of this quarter. These events focus on the importance of

the dry period and milk recording data and highlight ways to maximise the opportunities from both. They also explore the concept of 'prudent antibiotic use' and look at how farmers can prepare themselves and their herds for impending antimicrobial regulatory changes. These changes in regulation are in response to the new Veterinary Medicines Regulations that will come into effect in 2022. Work is concluding on analysis of the 2016-2018 sales data of intramammary products. The preliminary findings indicate that the reduction in the use of in- lactation tubes seen to 2015 has been maintained over the 3 years, while an annual reduction in the use of dry cow antibiotics is evident. An Implementation Group meeting was held in July, at which the preliminary findings of the economic benefits of milk recording were presented. This work was carried out using the National Farm Survey data, by Sean Clifford, an intern funded by AHI and supervised by Aine Regan and Emma Dillon of Teagasc. The preliminary findings are that even when farm and farmer characteristics are accounted for, milk recording herds have higher milk yield, gross margin and lower bulk tankSCC. This research is currentlybeingconcluded and will be published in due course. A participatory exercise was then carried out by the group, facilitated by Aine and Emma, the purpose of which was to gather expert opinion to help shape an attitudinal survey to explore Irish dairy farmers’ perceptions about different value propositions (benefits) of milk recording. The survey has been designed, and circulated to dairy farmers through several channels, including via some of the co-op representatives in the IG.



Programme Update: IBR

Dr Maria Guelbenzu, Programme Manager

T he main update for this quarter is the development of the next phase of the Pilot IBR Programme that will cover the period 2019 - January 2021. IBR Pilot Programme 2019 - 2021 Herds participating in Phase Three of the Teagasc/Irish Farmers journal BETTER Farm Beef Programme that joined the initial IBR Pilot phase in 2018, have been offered to continue in the IBR Pilot Programme. The new phase will consist of three components: sampling, risk assessment and biosecurity. Herds will carry out a whole herd test which involves sampling and testing of all the animals over 9 months-old in the herd. Samples will be tested with an IBR gE (marker) test. This testing will give a clear picture of the IBR status of the herd. The IBR-trained private veterinary practitioners (PVPs), will apply an on-farm veterinary risk assessment and management plan (VIBRAMP). The VIBRAMP consists of a questionnaire that will capture details of the farm structure, animal movements, biosecurity and vaccination history, with the focus on identifying risky biosecurity practices that may impact the IBR status of the herd. The veterinary practitioner and herdowner will review progress against previously agreed biosecurity recommendations and will agree up to three changes to improve biosecurity. Herdowners will be aware of best practice in terms of IBR and will aim to apply the biosecurity recommendations to either control IBR in their herds or to maintain freedom of disease. For example, herdowners will be recommended to apply pre/post-purchase/introduction of animals IBR testing and 4 week-quarantine to protect their herds form the introduction of IBR-infected animals. IBR TWG During this quarter the IBR Technical Working Group met three times to discuss and develop the next phase of the Pilot programme and to support the development of the mathematical model. Modelling work A DAFM-funded PhD student, working with the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (Germany) spent a few weeks based at University College, Dublin, at the end of the quarter. This visit allowed him to develop the IBR component of the model and to discuss and progress it with the IBR TWG.



Programme Update Johne’s Disease

Lawrence Gavey, Programme Manager

P hase2of the Irish Johne’s Control Programme is nowwell established but nonetheless continues undergoing further development and promotion. As at 20th September 2019, there were 1,582 herds registered in the IJCP, including 1,082 herds carried over from Phase 1. The current registrations represent 9% of dairy herds and 16% of dairy cows in Ireland. The rate of new registrations has slowed in Q3 relative to the first half of the year. At the current rate of growth, registrations at the end of 2019 are estimated to attain 1,700. The programme has provided training during the last quarter to veterinary practitioners for VRAMP and TASAH (for both beef and dairy herds), and to dairy milk quality advisors. Ongoing programme developments have seen the digitisation of TASAH investigations to enable them to be completed via a mobile App and the development of a Beef VRAMP. The model of a mobile App developed for TASAH will be applied to the new Beef VRAMP and to a revised Dairy VRAMP in the near future. Work is also ongoing to develop the IJCP ‘Dashboard’ presentation on ICBF of data for herdowners and AVPs to enhance clarity and enable animals that require testing to complete a whole herd test, or faecal sampling following a whole herd test, to be readily identified. A guidance document on how to access this dashboard will be available in the near future. The IJCP’s focus for the remainder of 2019 will be to facilitate new registrations and compliance of current registrants with programme requirements. The IJCP will also be strengthening the communications and database frameworks to meet emerging needs and to make participation in the programme as easy and rewarding as possible. The majority of herds have yet to complete their VRAMPs this year, but as in 2018, there is expected to be a surge in the completion of VRAMPs

The IJCP’s focus for the remainder of 2019

will be to facilitate new registrations and compliance of current registrants with programme requirements.



Programme Update Johne’s Disease

(and WHTs) in the last quarter of the year as herdowners prepare for housing and calving. Completing VRAMPs and testing at this time of year enables herdowners to focus on identifying and mitigating risks when those risks are greatest and mitigations can have the greatest impacts. Some herds also need to complete ancillary testing of dung samples following positive results on blood or milk samples. Herdowners are encouraged to consult their approved veterinary practitioner to ensure that all necessary elements of the programme are completed in 2019. Levels of testing, conversations with owners, veterinary practitioners and other advisors, and farmers’ responses to a survey at Moorepark 2019 demonstrate the need for continuing efforts to build awareness to encourage registrations and ensure that all necessary steps of the programme are followed. The IJCP is addressing this through: • AHI brochures, customised for each dairy processor for distribution to their suppliers • Attendance at industry and trade events • Advice to processors, milk quality advisors, Teagasc dairy advisors, veterinary practitioners and herdowners • Two rounds of SMS messages to alert herdowners of the need to test additional animals to complete a whole herd test, bearing in mind that 'sweeper' blood sampling may be required to ensure that all eligible animals (those aged 2 years and above at the start of the whole herd test) are tested. The IJCP is engaged in research and development initiatives investigating the application of Herd Environmental Sampling as an alternative herd screening tool, modelling spread within and between herds, and identifying the impacts of various biocontainment practices on dairy productivity at the herd level. These initiatives have potential to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of JD management in Ireland.



Programme Update Pig HealthCheck

Pig HealthCheck AnimalHealthIreland.ie

Dr Carla Gomes, Programme Manager

A nimal Health Ireland (AHI) has recently started working with the pig sector in Ireland. Pig HealthCheck is an AHI-led programme co-funded by pig producers and DAFM, with the aim of improving the profitability and sustainability of the Irish pig industry through improved animal health. Current programme activity is focussed on the delivery of assessments of herd biosecurity (internal and external) and of risk factors for tail biting. Both of these are delivered free-of-charge by trained private veterinary practitioners (PVPs) through the Targeted Advisory Service on Animal Health (TASAH) under the Rural Development Programme (2014-2020). Good biosecurity is essential to keep disease out of herds and with the current situation with African Swine Fever in Europe and Asia there is a renewed focus on biosecurity. The herd biosecurity assessments are being done using the Biocheck tool developed by University of Ghent. One training event and two webinars were carried out in 2018 and 10 PVPs were trained on how to use this tool. As of 26th September 2019, 89 units have used this service and have been reviewed in terms of their biosecurity. The preliminary results indicate that external biosecurity (measures to prevent disease entering the unit) scores are higher than internal biosecurity (measures to prevent disease spreading within the unit) (Figure 5). Some of the areas with the lowest biosecurity scores are the management of feed, water and equipment coming into the farms, the measures implemented between compartments to decrease disease transmission and cleaning and disinfection procedures.

0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100%


Figure 5. Average scores (in percentage) for external, internal and overall biosecurity for the units that have already undergone a biosecurity review.






Programme Update Pig HealthCheck

Two events took place in July 2019 for PVPs who will carry out the tail biting assessments and another is planned in October at the Teagasc facilities at Moorepark. The training covered regulatory aspects, background information about the risk factors, how to assess risk factors on farm and the online tool developed to record the assessments. Ten PVPs have been trained so far but no assessments have reported to AHI. Herds that have not yet taken advantage of these assessments can find more information at click here , which also contains a map of the PVPs who have already been trained click here . Please get in touch with one of them to request an assessment or contact AHI if further information is required. Future plans include the development of tools to assist pig farmers and their veterinary practitioners to control losses due to respiratory disease and welfare problems through capture, analysis and reporting of abattoir data from ante mortem and post mortem meat inspection. A key element of the programme will be the development of bench-marking tools to allow farmers to monitor their status for a range of measures and to compare this with the national profile. Other areas of activity will be identified in the coming months in consultation with stakeholders.



Programme Update BioSecurity

Lawrence Gavey, Programme Manager

T he Biosecurity Technical Working Group met on 23rd August 2019. Issues discussed included the National Farmed Animal Health Strategy and its synergies with the AHI Biosecurity Programme such as biosecurity training and tools; calf feeding hygiene; cleanliness scoring of pre-calving cows; draft SOPs in Biosecurity in calf health and husbandry for herdowners; draft Biosecurity guides for contract rearing for animal owners and landowners. The Biosecurity TWG also considered ways for greater coordination between AHI programmes and TWGs and reviewed its membership processes.

Programme Update CalfCare

Dr Catherine McAloon, Chair, CalfCare Technical Working Group

I t was with great pleasure that I had the opportunity to chair the recent meeting of the AHI CalfCare TWG. This group has completed some very effective work in the area of calf health to date from the early days of AHI and has been instrumental in disseminating education and best practice in calf rearing in Ireland. The group would like to extend its sincere thanks to the outgoing chair Dr Ingrid Lorenz for her outstanding contribution and success in building the group from its foundation. The TWG recently met where they identified an ambitious work programme in the area of calf health and welfare in Ireland. The first priority area is the work programme for the upcoming on-farm events on calf rearing in January 2020 in partnership with Teagasc and the Co-op’s, where calf health and well-being will be a focus. In addition, work on evaluation of current and future calf housing requirements is underway as well as a longer term focus on contributing to the calf health and welfare discussion in Ireland.

More details are to follow on the upcoming on farm events in the winter edition of the AHI newsletter.



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