AHI_Newsletter Winter 2019 FINAL


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

Stakeholders' NEWSLETTER

Events and Media P6

Focus on TWG Members


Joris Somers, Veterinary Advisor, Glanbia Ireland and IBR TWG

AHI Programme Updates P15

→ Beef HealthCheck → BVD → CellCheck → IBR

→ Johne’s Disease

→ Pig HealthCheck → CalfCare

Animal Health Ireland, 2-5 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, 2-5 The Archways, Carrick-on-Shannon, Co. Leitrim, N41 WN27 Phone 071 9671928 Email nmorgan@animalhealthireland.ie


04 06 14 15 17 22 23 25 27 29


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 fourth quarterly edition of our Stakeholders' Newsletter for 2019, providing an update on activities across our priority programmes and other work areas during this period. As you will see from the reports, this has been a particularly busy period, with a lot of activity in both current and new areas.

In October we held a conference to mark AHI having been established 10 years previously, during which we presented the results of a survey of farmers and stakeholders carried out over the summer which reflected on activities to date and also sought to identify additional priority areas for AHI in the future. Areas that were consistently identified included antimicrobial resistance, climate change, calf welfare and anthelmintic resistance. We look forward to engaging further with our stakeholders in 2020 to determine how best AHI can further contribute to these sectoral challenges, while noting that a number of our activities already address these issues, either directly or indirectly. AHI is a member of both the National Interdepartmental Consultative Committee on AMR and the Animal Health Implementation Committee established under iNAP- the Irish National Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance, contributing to several tasks, either as lead or supporting organisation. AHI-led programmes are contributing significantly to the reduction of AMU in the cattle sector. For example, BVD is recognised to be a significant immunosuppressive infection, contributing to the development of respiratory and enteric tract disease which frequently is treated with antibiotics. The 16-fold reduction in the prevalence of PI calves since 2013 is therefore considered to significantly reduced AMU as a result of the reduced need to treat sick calves. The CellCheck programme has resulted in a major reduction in the national somatic cell count (SCC) and associated with this improvement, it has been possible to document a significant reduction in the level of usage of both in-lactation and dry cow intra-mammary tubes, with these data now subject to annual review. The delivery of on-farm events in the autumn of

AHI-led programmes are contributing significantly to the reduction of AMU in the cattle sector. For example, BVD is recognised to be a significant immunosuppressive infection, contributing to the development of respiratory and enteric tract disease which frequently is treated with antibiotics. The 16-fold reduction in the prevalence of PI calves since 2013 is therefore considered to significantly reduced AMU as a result of the reduced need to treat sick calves.




2018 and 2019 focussing on dry cow management, including AMU and selective dry cow therapy (SDCT), have contributed to the increased uptake in SDCT, with AHI also co-ordinating the delivery to eligible herdowners of one- to-one dry cow consults by AHI-trained veterinary practitioners. In addition, AHI, in partnership with the Veterinary Laboratory Service (VLS) DAFM, has developed a CellCheck Partner Laboratory listing, with participating laboratories being required to meet defined standards in terms of pathogen identification and to report milk culture results to the VLS. The incorporation of animal health in the most recent marginal abatement cost curve (MACC) within the Teagasc Report 'An Analysis of Abatement Potential of Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Irish Agriculture 2021-2030' and the 'Climate Action Plan 2019' shows that improvements to animal health have the potential to contribute significantly to efficiency measures reducing GHG per unit of output, and furthermore that these gains are cost-beneficial in terms of their abatement cost. These gains are associated with improvements in health of dairy and beef cattle across a range of diseases, including BVD, Johne’s disease, IBR, mastitis, liver fluke, diarrhoea, pneumonia, lameness and infertility. AHI and our stakeholders have already been proactive in progressing activity in many of these areas, including the national BVD eradication programme, CellCheck, the Irish Johne’s Control Programme, the Beef HealthCheck programme and communicating best practice in relation to CalfCare, parasite control and biosecurity. It has also been encouraging this quarter to see the development of the Pig HealthCheck programme, with the AHI model of engagement with stakeholders delivering a series of prioritized work areas to be addressed as a Technical Working Group is established and begins its work. We look forward to establishing and interacting with a stakeholder Implementation Group in the coming months. Finally, the 2020 business plans for all of our activities are now published on our website and we look forward to engaging with you in their delivering over the course of this year.



Events and Media

Gráinne Dwyer, Communications and Event Manager

AHI activities over the last three months have been intense with our involvement in the delivery of an extensive training schedule, a series of on-farm events, the organisation and delivery of our yearly flagship dairy event, the CellCheck Milking For Quality Awards and finally, our 10th Anniversary Conference. CellCheck On-Farm Events Legislative changes to antibiotic usage on farms are due to come into effect in January 2022. In relation to dairy farming, this will have an impact on how antibiotics will be administered to individual cows that require treatment as part of a mastitis control programme, when routine preventative use of antibiotics will no longer be acceptable. This will result in each dairy farmer having to develop and implement a 'Selective Drying off Strategy’. To support and educate farmers and to encourage them to begin making changes now in preparedness for 2022, a series of 14 on-farm events were held throughout the country over a five-week period commencing on 30th of September. The events were jointly organised with Teagasc and were supported by 10 Dairy Processors. The on-farm events served to introduce the idea of planning the drying off process of individual cows using the tools available in terms of milking recording and Coop performance reports to determine the most suitable treatment plan. In addition, three other topics were included on the programme: Irish research on selective dry cow strategies; Antibiotics - what does the future hold; Practical demonstration- how best to dry off cows.

Christine and Thomas Curran and family, host farmers of the CellCheck event in Dungarvan.



CellCheck On-Farm Events

Speakers included TWG members, Teagasc researchers and Teagasc staff. These on-farm events also gave us the opportunity to promote the ‘Dry Cow Consult’ service which is provided by trained veterinary practitioners under the TASAH programme. The funding affords farmers the chance to avail of a three-hour consult with a veterinary practitioner to advise and develop their herd-specific ‘drying off strategy’.

Padraig O'Connor of Teagasc speaking and giving a practical demonstration on how to dry off cows.

Finola McCoy with host farmer, Richard Starlett (third from the left) at the CellCheck on-farm event in Donegal.



AHI 10th Anniversary Conference

AHI 10th Anniversary Conference This year, Animal Health Ireland celebrates 10 years since it was established and to celebrate this milestone, a conference was held in the Royal College of Physicians, Dublin on the 20th of October. Over 120 researchers, advisors, Government officials, academics and industry representatives attended the conference which was opened by Michael Creed TD, Minister for Food, Agriculture and the Marine. The theme of the conference was Animal Health Ireland – the next decade and the programme included national and international speakers including Dr Vytenis Andriukaitis, the then EU Commissioner on Health and Food Safety. As an introduction to the conference, Professor Michael Doherty gave a background to, and reasoning for, the establishment of Animal Health Ireland 10 years ago. In session two, the objective was to look at the challenges and opportunities that face those working in the area of animal health into the future. The speakers in this session included Dr Andriukaitis, Professor Jonathan Rushton of the University of Liverpool and Paul Wever of GD Deventer, The Netherlands. In June of this year, AHI distributed a survey to all its stakeholders with the view to establishing and identifying potential future areas of work for AHI. The final session of the conference provided us with the opportunity to present the preliminary results of this survey. Speakers included David Graham and Ken McKenzie. Dr McKenzie developed the survey and will be leading the stakeholder engagement in the next stage of engagement.

Mike Magan AHI, Prof Michael Doherty UCD and AHI Board member, David Graham AHI, Prof Simon More UCD and CellCheck & JD TWG Chair, Martin Blake CVO.



AHI 10th Anniversary Conference

Mike Magan AHI, Prof Simon More UCD, Dr Ann Derwin DFA, Sean Coughlan CEO ICBF, Finbarr Murphy CEO Veterinary Ireland, Joe O'Flaherty DAFM and ex-CEO AHI.

George Ramsbottom of Teagasc with Margaret Good attending the 10th Anniversary Conference.



CellCheck Milking For Quality Awards

CellCheck Milking For Quality Awards The CellCheck Milking For Quality Awards ceremony was held in the Lyrath Hotel, Kilkenny on the 20th of November. It is an initiative to recognise and reward the excellence of Irish farmers who are currently achieving high standards of udder health on their farm and awards are given to the 500 suppliers nationally with the lowest weighted annual average somatic cell count. Since the inception of the Awards, the maximum SCC of award recipients has fallen each year from 103,000 cells/ mL in 2014 to 76,500 cells/mL in 2017. All 15 Co-ops that submitted data to DAFM had representatives in the ‘Best 500’ category. The two discussion group categories, Best Discussion Group and Most Improved Discussion Group were won by Bunratty and Western Duhallow Dairy Discussion Groups respectively. The judges – George Ramsbottom (Teagasc), Kevin Downing (ICBF) and Finola McCoy (AHI) used milk quality reports and information accessed from ICBF and Teagasc systems to identify the winners.

Most Improved Discussion Group winners - Duhallow Dairy Discussioin Group receiving their plaques from Fiona Muldoon of FBD.

As part of the programme of events, Amii McKeever, editor of Irish Country Living chaired and facilitated a panel discussion on ‘Achieving a sustainable diet- the challenges?’ The key note speaker was Orla Walsh, well known dietician and regular commentator on Newstalk and other media outlets. Orla then joined Dr Paddy Wall of UCD and John Jordan, CEO of Ornua. The programme concluded with the presentation of a special award to the supplier from each of the 15 milk processors with the best SCC for 2018. Over 600 winners, their partners, sponsors and industry representatives attended the ceremony, which was sponsored by FBD Insurance and supported by Ornua.



CellCheck Milking For Quality Awards

Best Overall Discussion Group winners - Bunratty Dairy Discussion Group receiving their plaques from Fiona Muldoon of FBD.

Amii McKeever editor Irish Country Living (Chair) with Dr Paddy Wall UCD, John Jordan CEO, Ornua and Orla Walsh, Dietician participating in the panel discussion at the Awards ceremony.

Training As part of the Rural Development Plan 2014-2020, co-funded by the Irish government and the EU, funding has been provided for a Targeted Advisory Service on Animal Health (TASAH), delivered by trained veterinary practitioners. This autumn, building on the numbers of veterinary practitioners already trained in this area, a further series of TASAH training events was offered to veterinary practitioners working with dairy farmers in the area of udder health. Five training sessions were delivered across the county. This CellCheck TASAH training will be offered again in autumn 2020 in the run up to the changes in legislation in antibiotic usage in January 2022.



CalfCare events

Future AHI Events AHI, in conjunction with Teagasc are working with 10 dairy processors to deliver 12 on-farm CalfCare events around the country in January. Two CalfCare events were held already in December. The title of the events is ‘Are you ready for the 2020 calving season?’. The four topics covered are; alternative calf housing; calf health and welfare; preparing calves for sale; feeding options for young calves. The on-farm events commence at 11am.

Images from the CalfCare events in December.



CalfCare events



Focus on Technical Working Group Members

Name | Joris Somers Profession | Veterinary Advisor, Glanbia Ireland TWG Membership | IBR

Joris is originally from Belgium and graduated from Ghent University School of Veterinary Medicine in 2011. He received a Master in Veterinary Medicine (MVM) degree from Ghent University after which he joined the University College Dublin School of Veterinary Medicine. Initially he undertook an internship in farm animal clinical studies at the UCD Veterinary Hospital, followed by a post-graduate programme focused on bovine health management. In October 2016, he took up the role of lecturer in farm animal clinical studies within the unit of Herd Health and Animal Husbandry at UCD. In 2017, he received a Doctorate in Veterinary Medical Specialisation (DVMS) from UCD based on his thesis titled: ‘Reproductive performance, risk factors and foot lesions associated with lameness in Irish dairy cattle’ and his extensive herd health monitoring work carried out in a selection of Wicklow and Kildare dairy farms. In June 2019, Joris took up the position of Veterinary Advisor with Glanbia Ireland where he has responsibility for providing animal health advice to the company, its milk suppliers and support staff. The role includes the areas of milk quality, animal welfare, herd health and disease control. Joris is a member of the TWG for IBR and represents Glanbia Ireland on the Implementation Groups for BVD and Johne’s disease.



Programme Update Beef HealthCheck

Dr Natascha Meunier, Programme Manager

T he last quarter of 2019 saw 209,000 animal reports as part of the Beef HealthCheck programme. This represented 15,400 herds and an average of 17,100 animals per week. This brings the number of reports to 704,800 in 2019 to date, which is in line with previous years. Average levels of liver fluke damage were 9.4% and live fluke levels were 1.0% this quarter. Liver abscesses were seen in 4.3% of animals slaughtered and pneumonia in 1.1% (Figure 1). In herds that had at least ten animal records in the Beef HealthCheck programme from 2016-2019, an average of 10% of herds in each county have not shown any sign of liver fluke, neither live fluke nor fluke damage. This varies by region (Figure 2), with at least 12% of these herds showing no evidence of liver fluke in counties such as Cork, Kerry, Clare, Carlow and Limerick, whereas this was fewer than 2% of these herds in Roscommon, Donegal and Sligo. Prudent use of veterinary medicines encourages their use only as needed and the BHC data indicate that flukicides may not be needed on every farm. Farmers are encouraged to discuss the history of liver fluke on the farm in combination with results from faecal egg counts with their veterinary practitioner to see if this would be an appropriate decision for their farm. Good biosecurity practices should be in place to prevent buying in of cattle or sheep stock with liver fluke.

Average levels of liver fluke damage were 9.4% and live fluke levels were 1.0% this quarter. Liver abscesses were seen in 4.3% of animals slaughtered and pneumonia in 1.1%

An interactive liver fluke map is being developed which presents summary Beef HealthCheck data online per county on a quarterly basis. Click here to view the current version of the with additional features to be added in the future. To promote good practice with regard to anthelmintics, the Parasite Technical Working Group (TWG) has recently published an information leaflet on ‘Anthelmintic resistance in cattle roundworms’ ( Click here ). The TWG has also developed leaflets on parasite control in sheep, beginning with sheep scab, liver fluke, and roundworm control, due to be published shortly.



Programme Update Beef Healthcheck

Figure 1. Beef HealthCheck liver reports by week for 2019.

Figure 2. Percentage of herds per county with more than 10 animal records that showed no evidence of liver fluke in the BHC programme from 2016-2019



Programme Update BVD

Dr Maria Guelbenzu, Programme Manager

Results By the end of December 2019, just over 2.3 million calves had been registered, with results available for 98.9% of these. The prevalence of calves born persistently infected (PI) with BVDV continued to decline, with only 0.04% of calves tested in the year being found to be PI (as compared to 0.06% in 2018, Figure 3), with these being located in 0.77% of 83,000 breeding herds (compared to 1.13% in 2018, Figure 4) and generating a net financial benefit to farmers in 2019 in excess of €85 million. This represents a decrease in PI prevalence of 33.4% from that seen in 2018, and is a reduction of more than sixteen-fold when compared to the prevalence at the start of the compulsory phase of the programme in 2013, when 0.66% of the calves born were PI. Updated programme results are available on a weekly basis at click here .

0.66 0.66





0.10 0.06 0.04





2017 2018 2019

Figure 3. Animal-level prevalence of PI calves born during each year of the programme.






2.0 1.07 0.77





(YTD) 2018 2019 2017

Figure 4. Herd- level prevalence of PI calves born during each year of the programme.



Programme Update BVD

Programme enhancements put in place over the last few years in combination with a decreasing prevalence, have had a significant impact on reducing the time between detection and removal of PI calves. These enhancements include increased levels of financial support for removal of PIs within a reduced period of time, the automation of the imposition of restrictions of herds retaining PI calves for more than three weeks after the date of their first test (reduced from five weeks in previous years) and mandatory herd investigations within three months of the disclosing result (funded through the Rural Development Plan under the Targeted Advisory Service on Animal Health [TASAH]). During 2019, enhanced testing was introduced as part of the TASAH investigation, and analysis of results obtained showed that it helped discover the virus source in a number of herds.

Figure 5. Map showing distribution of PI animals alive at the 3rd December 2019. Each hexagon represents an area of approximately 10km 2



Programme Update BVD

Negative herd status (NHS) 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 Q4 2019, over 93.5% of herds had acquired NHS, with a further 4,878 only being ineligible due to the presence of a small number of untested animals. While an important programme milestone for any herd, NHS also brings with it an economic benefit, with the number of laboratories that use the RTPCR test method offering testing at reduced costs to herds with NHS ( click here ). The status of almost all animals (99.5%) in the 83,000 breeding herds in Ireland is nowknown, with themain exception being 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 approximately 4,500. At the end of Q4, the number has reduced to 3,600. The majority of these animals are in beef herds, and the majority are also male. These animals are not required to be tested under current legislation and may currently be sold untested. However, it is anticipated that from 1st April 2020, there will be a legal requirement to test pre-2013 born animals. Therefore, it is important that these animals are tested in the coming months, for herds to avoid restrictions in 2020. The number of animals born since January 2013 that do not have a valid test result and are therefore not compliant with the requirements of the legislation has also reduced from 13,684 at the end of Q3 to approximately 11,000. The majority of these have never been tested, while a small number have had an initial empty result and not been retested. Most of these animals are 2019-born (88%), with smaller numbers from preceding years. During the last few months DAFM has issued letters to these herds, informing them of the need to test these animals. Targeted Advisory Service on Animal Health (TASAH) Since 2017 all herds with positive results are required to undergo an RDP-funded TASAH herd investigation by a trained veterinary practitioner within 3 months of the initial positive result. 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 500 herds with positive results in 2019 (92% of positive herds). A small number have not been completed within the 3 months allocated and these are now being contacted to progress the investigations.



Programme Update BVD

Key Messages for 2020 Outlined below are key programme messages for 2020, including measures to further accelerate progress towards eradication, with a focus on prompt testing of calves and removal of PIs, prevention of onward spread from positive herds and testing of animals of unknown status, including those born before the 1st January 2013. 1. Tissue tag testing remains compulsory for 2020. A list of suppliers of approved tags and of the laboratories approved to test each tag type is available from click here . 2. Tissue tag-test calves as soon as possible after birth. Where positive or inconclusive results are obtained, these should be removed promptly to obtain the higher level of financial support provided by DAFM and to avoid herd restrictions. 3. Where a decision is taken, based on veterinary advice, to re-test the calf, this must be done by means of a blood sample only (this also applies to testing of dams). DAFM will meet the costs of the visit by the herd’s veterinary practitioner and of testing the calf (and dam if sampled at the same time). 4. DAFM supports for removal of PI calves remain at the following rates: a. BEEF HERDS: i. €220 for beef breed animals removed with a registered date of death on AIM within 10 days of the initial test, reducing to €30 if removed between 11 and 21 days after the initial test. b. DAIRY HERDS: i. Dairy heifers and dairy cross calves: €160 if removed within 10 days of the initial test, reducing to €30 if removed between 11 and 21 days after the initial test. ii. €30 for removal of bull calves within 14 days of the initial test. For full terms and conditions see click here . 5. Restriction of herds retaining PI calves and notification of neighbours. DAFM will automatically restrict movements into and out of herds that retain PI animals for more than 21 days after the date of the initial test (in the absence of a recorded date of death on AIM). Ensure PIs are removed in time to allow the death to be recorded before 21 days elapse. Restrictions are automatically lifted following removal of PIs. Neighbouring herds will also be notified, advising them to take appropriate biosecurity measures to minimize the risk of accidental introduction of infection. 6. Enhanced veterinary investigations of all herds with positive calves born in 2020. These investigations, funded through the Rural Development Programme, and delivered by a trained private veterinary practitioner, must be completed within 3 months of the date of the first positive result; advice to prevent the sale of pregnant animals (trojans) that may be carrying PI calves will be provided. Funded, targeted sampling to detect any unidentified PI animals must also be conducted within 2 months of the positive result. Tracing and investigation of herds that sold trojan dams will also be conducted. For details contact Animal Health Ireland on 071 967 1928 click here .



Programme Update BVD

7. Test animals of unknown status to obtain NHS. Around 4,700 herds contain animals that either have not produced a negative calf or which do not have a valid result recorded on the database. The presence of these animals prevents herds attaining NHS and accessing lower cost testing. It is anticipated that from 1 st April 2020, there will be a legal requirement to test pre-2013 born animals. 8. Review biosecurity to minimize the risk of accidental introduction of BVD virus, leading to the birth of PI calves, through movement of animals, people (including the farmer) or equipment or across boundaries ( click here ). Key actions for herdowners • The small number of farmers with PIs still present in their herds should remove these as quickly as possible to reduce the possibility of further PI calves being born next season. • Farmers who have requested a herd investigation that has not yet been completed should contact their nominated practitioner to progress this. • Farmers who have not had a PI present in their herd in the past 12 months but have not yet been notified that

they have acquired NHS should identify and test any animals whose status is not known. • All farmers should review biosecurity to avoid accidental reintroduction of infection.

More generally, herdowners are encouraged to discuss biosecurity, including any potential changes to their vaccination policy, with their own veterinary practitioner. Further details on biosecurity, including quarantine, are available at ( click here ).



Programme Update CellCheck

Finola McCoy, Programme Manager

T he start of this quarter was particularly busy with the delivery of a series of 14 CellCheck Dry Cow on-farm events, in partnership with Teagasc and the processors. These events focussed on the importance of the dry period and milk recording data, highlighting ways to maximise the opportunities from both. They also explored the concept of 'prudent antibiotic use' and look at how farmers can prepare themselves and their herds for the regulatory changes anticipated in January 2022, in response to the new European Veterinary Medicinal Products Legislation. Attendance, participation and feedback from these events was very positive, with a lot of discussion particularly around farmers’ experiences in adopting selective dry cow strategies. I also co-hosted a workshop with George Ramsbottom, Teagasc and the CellCheck TWG at the 'One Health- Awareness to Action Conference' organised jointly by AHI, DAFM, FSAI, Teagasc and UCD. The topic was 'Selective Dry Cow Strategies', which just like the on-farm events generated much interest, with a lot of positive experience shared by those participating. It is always encouraging to see how many people are starting to adopt selective drying off strategies, in a planned and informed way, with successful outcomes. There was a lot of interest this autumn in the CellCheck Dry Cow consults (delivered through the Targeted Advisory Service on Animal Health, funded by the Rural Development Programme and coordinated by Animal Health Ireland). Approximately 340 eligible applications were received, before the process closed at the end of November. Trained PVPs have been preparing and delivering these consults over the last few months, before farmers started drying off their spring-calving cows. The annual CellCheck Milking For Quality award event was also held in November. As always, this was a very positive occasion, celebrating the success and achievements of the 500 farmers in the country with the best somatic cell counts (SCCs). This year, all 500 winners had an annual average SCC of 76,500 cells/mL or less! The two discussion group categories, Best Discussion Group and Most Improved Discussion Group were won by Bunratty and Western Duhallow groups respectively. We had a CellCheck Implementation Group meeting at the end of the year. With a move from collecting and analysing SCC results annually to collecting them three times a year, this was an opportunity to review the SCC results from the first 4 months of 2019. 70% of herds and 71% of milk volume had an average SCC of 200,000 cells/mL or less from January to April of 2019. We also saw that the proportion of herds participating in milk recording increased from 38% in 2018 to 43% in 2019. While this is positive to see, increasing engagement with milk recording continues to be an area of challenge for the whole industry.



Programme Update: IBR

Dr Maria Guelbenzu, Programme Manager

D uring the last quarter work within this programme has focused on recruiting herd owners into the next phase of the Pilot IBR Programme and preparing information for the modelling work that is going to be carried out around the options for a national IBR programme. IBR Pilot Programme 2019/21 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 cover the period 2019-January 2021 and 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 that allows differentiation between animals infected with the virus and those vaccinated with a marker vaccine. This testing will give a clear picture of the IBR status of the herd and provide key information to develop a strategy to control IBR within the herd for infected herds or, for herds which are free, to protect the herd from IBR. 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 vet and herd owner will review progress against previously agreed biosecurity recommendations and will agree up to three changes to improve biosecurity. Herd owners 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, herd owners will be recommended to apply IBR testing pre/post purchase/introduction of animals 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 twice to discuss and develop the next phase of the Pilot programme and to support the development of the mathematical model.



Programme Update IBR

Modelling work A DAFM-funded PhD student, working with the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (Germany) has been working on the development of a national IBR model. This team previously developed a national BVD model which continues to inform the BVD eradication programme. The team visited Ireland in December 2019. This visit provided an opportunity for detailed discussions to assist with further development of the model. It is intended that the model will support the development and evaluation of options for a sustainable national IBR programme by allowing testing of different strategies and their effects on the success, duration and cost of such a programme. Communications A series of communications, including a webinar for trained PVPs was delivered to communicate and encourage participation in the new phase of the Pilot IBR Programme. In addition, a talk on ‘IBR in the dairy herd’ and a poster presenting anonymised data from the IBR Pilot programme were delivered at the Cattle Association of Veterinary Ireland (CAVI) Conference 2019 on the 18 th October in Limerick.



Programme Update Johne’s Disease

Lawrence Gavey, Programme Manager

T he Irish Johne’s Control Programme (IJCP) continues to deliver and enhance this initiative to improve the productivity and assure market success for Ireland’s milk and cattle industries. Registrations in the IJCP increased in 2019 to 1,660, averaging 60 new herds per month, and representing 9% of dairy herds and 17% of dairy cows in Ireland. This increase demonstrates the significant adoption of the programme by herdowners, supported by their milk processors, approved veterinary practitioners and DAFM. There was variation in the levels of uptake by their suppliers across processors. Registration rate tended to correlate with processor size (measured by number of suppliers), presumably proportional to resourcing of promotions and other support of the programme. At end of 2019, 833 herds (50%) have met the requirements of whole herd test (WHT) and veterinary risk assessment and management plan (VRAMP) for payment for testing. Another 619 herds (37%) have begun testing but still have some eligible animals to be tested and/or yet to complete their VRAMPs, and 208 herds (12.5%) have started neither their VRAMP nor WHT. A significant focus by the programme in the final quarter aimed to facilitate completions and payments, with targeted communications (including series of messages and emails to herdowners and AVPs) and extending the end-of-year deadlines for VRAMPs and WHT completions into January.

Approximately equal proportions of ELISA tests were done on blood and milk samples. Ongoing technical and administrative developments in the programme include preparation for implementation of bulk tank milk surveillance testing to identify and recruit high-prevalence herds; the development of a Beef VRAMP for use in formats of hard copy, on-line and as a mobile App, release and promotion of a Johnes Dashboard for AVPs and farmers, continuing development of the Johne’s Herd Index as an objective and visual display of herd risk; and developing the role of the Johne’s disease National Reference Laboratory. A research project aiming to validate the use of Herd Environmental Sampling in the Irish context commenced in late 2019 as cattle moved into housing. The IJCP is collaborating with two other priority research projects, Modelling spread of JD within and between herds in an Irish context and Assessing the impact of Biocontainment provisions in IJCP VRAMPs as predictors of productivity measurables (mortality, fertility, milk production).

Registrations in the IJCP increased in 2019 to 1,660, averaging 60 new herds per month, and representing 9% of dairy herds and 17% of dairy cows in Ireland.



Programme Update Johne’s Disease

Based on the learnings from 2019 implementation of the programme, priority activities for early 2020 are: • Renew information and resources for stakeholders to be clearer, simpler and more integrated; including promoting the availability and value of the Johne’s Dashboard on ICBF to herdowners • Enhance the utility of ICBF to notify herdowners and AVPs of results uploads and next steps, and refine data analysis and presentation • Revise administrative arrangements to meet programme maturation (reducing levels of payments for testing in herds in the test-negative pathway; no VRAMP in Year 4 for herds in the test-negative pathway, efficient and timely payments to herdowners for testing) • Review the Dairy VRAMP to improve its provisions for JD management and to enable its completion as a mobile App • Extend the IJCP to the beef industry, and • Showcase the IJCP to the Irish industries and to the global marketplace at the International Colloquium on Paratuberculosis in Dublin in June.



Programme Update Pig HealthCheck

Pig HealthCheck AnimalHealthIreland.ie

Dr Carla Gomes, Programme Manager

T he last quarter of the year has been busy developing the Pig HealthCheck Programme. Several meetings have been held with stakeholders (e.g. Pig Industry Stakeholders Group, Bord Bia, Meat Industry Ireland, IFA) and other organisations involved in the sector (e.g. Teagasc, DAFM, UCD) to understand the sector and identify the challenges and opportunities ahead. The programme is taking shape and its aim is to improve the profitability and sustainability of the Irish pig industry through improved animal health and welfare. This will be achieved by providing a holistic picture of animal health at farm level, benchmarking the farm animal health against national average and top/bottom performers and engaging with stakeholders to drive improvements in the sector. The programme is composed of five activities:

Activity 1 : Biosecurity assessments, based on BiocheckUGent and delivered by Private Veterinary Practitioners (PVPs) through the Targeted Advisory Service on Animal Health (TASAH) under the Rural Development Programme (2014-2020);

Activity 2: Assessments of risk factors for tail biting, based on a tool developed in collaboration with Teagasc, DAFM and AHI and delivered by PVPs through TASAH;

Activity 3: Capture, analysis and reporting of abattoir data from ante and post mortem (AMPM) meat inspection, based on the system being developed by DAFM, which builds on previous Teagasc research (PigPathSurv project); Activity 4: Antimicrobial usage (AMU), using the database created by DAFM for recording AMU by pig farmers, which was built on previous Teagasc research (Amurap project), link these data with health/ disease data to demonstrate inter-relationship (e.g. low AMU associated with high health status);

Activity 5: National Salmonella Control Programme (NSCP), augment the existing programme by providing direction to increase the farmers and PVPs engagement with the NSCP.



Programme Update Pig HealthCheck

Biosecurity assessments As of the end of November 2019, 101 units have used this service and have been reviewed in terms of their biosecurity. A preliminary analysis already highlights that internal biosecurity needs to be improved, especially the measures focusing on specific compartments (e.g. all in/all-out systems, keeping groups together, reducing stock density). Risk assessments for tail biting Two assessments have been reported so far to Animal Health Ireland. AM/PM data Activity 3 includes the development of tools to assist pig farmers and their veterinary practitioners to improve animal health based on the capture, analysis and reporting of abattoir data from ante and post mortem (AM/PM) meat inspection. Visits to one factory with a high-speed line and one factory with low-speed line were carried out in October and November 2019, respectively, to understand the challenges in capturing and recording AM/ PM data. National Salmonella Control Programme AHI is setting-up a Technical Working Group (TWG) for the Pig HealthCheck Programme and one of the first tasks of the TWG is to review the existing NSCP (activity 5). The work will encompass a gap analysis of the current NSCP focusing on what is written in the programme, what has been done and what has not been done, and identifying new measures (if needed) to support reduction of the prevalence of Salmonella spp. and compliance with the programme. Feedback to farmers and benchmarking Central to the proposed Pig Programme will be the development of bench-marking tools for these potential five areas of activity (i.e. biosecurity, risk assessments for tail biting, AM/PM data, AMU and NSCP) to allow farmers and their veterinary practitioners to monitor their status for a range of measures and to compare this with the national profile. Ideally all these benchmarking tools would be in the same place (i.e. through access to one webpage only via the Pig HealthCheck database). Other activities A meeting has also been held with ICBF to discuss the set-up of the Pig HealthCheck database. The development of a TWG for the Pig HealthCheck Programme has also started with Professor Finola Leonard (UCD) agreeing to be the chair of the TWG.



Programme Update CalfCare

Dr Catherine McAloon, Chair, CalfCare Technical Working Group

T he CalfCare TWG have recently compiled a document on calf health and welfare. This review document summarises some of the key areas to focus on in promoting excellent calf health and welfare in all calves in the first three weeks of life, from preparation of the cow before calving to the first hours, days and weeks of life. This calf health and welfare summary document has been taken on board by the Department of Agriculture, Food and theMarine, Teagasc and ICOS members for onward distribution to their clients and suppliers. This key document focuses the attention of all relevant stakeholders on the key focus areas in calf rearing in early life.

Click here to download Calf Health and Welfare document.



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