AHI Newsletter Spring-Summer FINAL

ANIMAL HEALTH IRELAND Contributing to a profitable and sustainable farming and agri-food sector through improved animal health SPRING/SUMMER EDITION Stakeholders NEWSLETTER

Events and Media


AHI Programme Updates


CellCheck • BVD • Beef HealthCheck Johne’s Disease • IBR


Focus on TWG Members

Dr Bruno Botaro Prof. Alen Dzidic

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

AHI gratefully acknowledges the financial and other contributions of our stakeholders.

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



Johne’s Disease

Beef HealthCheck



CEO, Animal Health Ireland: Joe O’Flatherty.

This quarterly update charts the continued steady progress towards our objectives across the range of our programmes. Starting with the national BVD eradication programme, the data indicate a steady advance towards the objective of eradication by 2020. The very latest figures, available at the end of May, show that the animal prevalence has fallen to 0.09%, which is more than a seven-fold reduction since the programme became compulsory in January 2013. Of equal importance is the fact that the number of herds retaining PIs has fallen to a total of 83 – one tenth of one per cent of the approximately 83,000 breeding herds in Ireland. While this is obviously very encouraging, our target has to be to reduce this figure to zero, particularly now that we have entered the risk period for the creation of next year’s PIs. The epidemiological model that has been developed to support the programme indicates that we are on track to eradicate the disease by 2020, but only if we can collectively find ways to completely eliminate the practice of PI retention. Building on the considerable success that has been achieved in improving the Somatic Cell Count in the national dairy herd, the CellCheck programme has taken on a new lease of life with the establishment of an Implementation Group. The group has already had very useful preliminary discussions on the contribution it can make to the National Action Plan on Anti-Microbial Resistance, currently being developed by DAFM and the Department of Health and Children. Another important area for discussion within the Implementation Group will be the development of measures to support and encourage farmers who struggle to consistently maintain their herd SCC below 400,000 cells/ml. I expect these two issues to occupy a good deal of the group’s time over the coming year. With the online dashboard now launched, the Beef HealthCheck programme has met another important milestone, making the programme information available to herdowners and their veterinary practitioners in a user-friendly format that facilitates informed discussions between them, thereby supporting good decision-making on the farm. About 65% of the national kill is now contributing information to the programme, and the farmers presenting cattle to participating plants have been responding very positively to the paper-based reports they have been receiving to date. Our efforts in the coming months will focus on driving the uptake of the new online resource by both farmers and vets, and in developing new tools to support the programme, including the building of our understanding of the real economic impact of liver fluke and lung disease.




AHI has been leading negotiations with stakeholders on a Johne’s disease control programme to take over from the pilot programme, which ended last year. The issues at play are complex and challenging and the discussions have necessarily been detailed and lengthy. However, the negotiations with stakeholders in the Implementation Group and other settings have been very valuable in helping to define the shape and funding model of the future programme, and I remain confident that agreement on this strategically important initiative can be achieved in the very near future. On IBR, AHI has been steadily assembling the building blocks to underpin a consultation on a future eradication programme for Ireland. There is no room for complacency in this regard, particularly when we take account of the progress being made by a variety of European member states on the control and eradication of this disease, and the potential impact of these moves on the export market for live cattle from Ireland. Finally, as I will be stepping down as CEO of Animal Health Ireland in the coming months, I would like to extend my sincere thanks to all those who have supported our work over the past almost nine years since I first took charge of the organisation in January 2009. Without the constant encouragement, financial support and expertise provided by a huge range of individuals and organisations, none of what has been achieved would have been possible. I include in these remarks our member organisations, the Board of Directors, the Technical Working Groups and Implementation Groups, as well as the very many farmers, veterinary practitioners, service providers and other stakeholders up and down the country whose active engagement with the various programmes has brought about significant improvements in the health of the national cattle herd. A special vote of thanks on my part is due to my colleagues in the AHI team, a group of individuals of extraordinary ability, whose work ethic, professionalism and team spirit are second to none. For all of these individuals and groups who have given life to the organisation, from its very humble beginnings, this has been a journey into uncharted waters, and a real demonstration of the transformative power of collaboration.



Events and Media

Communications and Event Manager: Gráinne Dwyer

Launch of Beef HealthCheck On-line Dashboard The next phase in the delivery of the Beef HealthCheck programme, the On-line Dashboard was launched in the offices of MII at the end of January by Michael Creed, T.D., Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine. Full details of the event are in the Beef HealthCheck Report on page 15 . CalfCare Events 2,000 FARMERS attended thirteen on-farm CalfCare events held nationwide in January on the theme of calf health for lifetime performance. Four topics were selected to reflect this theme: guidelines for milk feeding to the young calf; recognising the signs of health in the young calf; Cryptosporidiosis prevention and control; and Anti-microbial resistance (AMR). The events were jointly organised by AHI and Teagasc, and were supported by eight Dairy Coops – Glanbia, Kerry Agri Business, Tipperary Coop, Lakeland Dairies, Aurivo, Arrabawn, Dairygold and Carbery. The events were also supported by Volac. All events were Knowledge Transfer (KT) approved for beef and dairy discussion groups.



Events and Media



Focus on Technical Working Group Members

Name: Prof. Alen Dzidic, University of Zagreb, Croatia Profession: Researcher TWG Membership: CellCheck Technical Working Group

ALEN GRADUATED from University of Zagreb – Faculty of Agriculture in 1995, and completed a Masters in Science, in Wageningen University in 1999, part of which included a thesis entitled ‘Prediction of milking robot utilization’. Thereafter, he finished his PhD at Technical University Munich, Germany with a thesis ‘Studies on milk ejection and milk removal during machine milking in different species’. He currently works at Department of Animal Sciences in Zagreb, Croatia where he teaches courses about lactation and machine milking for undergraduate and graduate students. His research interests include machine milking, physiology of lactation, milk production management and udder health. Alen is a member of the American Dairy Science Association and Croatian Dairy Union and and he recently published a chapter on ‘Sheep: Milking management in Reference Module in Food Science’ as a co-author with Olivia Mills. Alen is currently on a sabbatical year with the Trinity College Dublin at Department of Zoology, and says “I am happy to contribute to AHI during my stay in Ireland and to share my skills, knowledge and experience.”

Name: Dr Bruno Botaro Profession: Post-Doctoral Researcher TWG Membership: CellCheck and Johne’s Disease Technical Working Groups

BRUNO IS a qualified veterinary surgeon from Brazil who currently works as post-doctoral researcher with the Livestock Systems at Teagasc, Moorepark where he’s been part of the ICONMAP project measuring the economic impact of Johne’s Disease on Irish dairy herds. Before taking up his current role, he worked for a number of years as a quality assurance supervisor in a dairy co-op producing 1,000,000 litres/day in Brazil. With the benefit of his veterinary background, he was in a position to assist dairy farmers in meeting the milk quality regulatory standards. Today, Bruno is still a member of the Brazilian Milk Quality Council Board. During his PhD programme he took a sabbatical year in New Zealand and worked with the AgResearch’s Lactation Persistency and Epigenetics team. His keen interest in infectious diseases of dairy cattle attracted him to mastitis, an area on which most of his research work has been focused since obtaining his bachelor degree in 2004.



Programme Update CellCheck

CellCheck AnimalHealthIreland.ie

Programme Manager: Finola McCoy

2017 SAW the transition of the CellCheck Industry Consultation Group (ICG) to the CellCheck Implementation Group (IG). As part of this process, management fromeach of the organisations represented on the previous ICGwere asked to ensure that the individuals representing them on the CellCheck IG have a clear and strong mandate to articulate positions on behalf of their parent organisations and to engage robustly with the issues under consideration. There have been two IG meetings this quarter, and both have involved vigorous discussions of industry challenges, particularly in the area of antimicrobial usage and antimicrobial resistance. The TWG has alsomet to further advance the development of the next phase of service provider training, delivery of which will commence later in the year. The TWG has also identified the need for a complete review of literature supporting dry cow therapy strategies, in order to update the CellCheck position on dry cow therapy, and to identify research priorities in this area. A complete reviewof the delivery of workshops to support Dairy KT participants in 2016was carried out, and planning for the next phase of delivery commenced. DAFM also commenced collation of the bulk tank SCC data for 2016. I was also asked to speak at a Danish dairy industry seminar, organised by Seges, which is a body providing research and advisory services to the Danish agricultural industry. Denmark is currently looking at ways to re-invigorate their approach to milk quality and mastitis control, and looked at approaches in other countries from which to learn. In doing so, they identified the model of Animal Health Ireland and the CellCheck programme as areas which they were keen to explore. In addition to assisting with the set-up and delivery of a CellCheck Farmer Workshop for the students of the WIT Ag Science course, I also presented on the work of AHI at the IASTA conference in March. I also delivered mastitis- related lectures to the Dairy Business Degree students currently based in Moorepark and represented AHI at a DAFM industry stakeholder meeting on calf welfare, where I presented on the work and activities carried out by AHI in the area of calf health.



Programme Update BVD

AnimalHealthIreland.ie BVDFree

Programme Manager: Dr David Graham

Results BY THE end of Q1 of 2017 just over 1.1 million calves had been tested, representing approximately half of the anticipated calf crop for the year. At the peak of calving (week 7) alone, over 160,000 calves were registered. Despite these large volumes, turnaround times across the designated labs remained well within designated limits, with an overall average of one day from receipt to reporting. The prevalence of PI births in 2017 continues to decline. 0.1% of calves tested in Q1 were found to be persistently infected (PI) with BVDV, with these being located in 1.45% of 83,000 breeding herds. This represents a decrease in PI prevalence by more than six-fold since the start of the compulsory phase of the programme in 2013, when 0.66% of calves born were PI (Figures 1A, B). Updated programme results are available on a weekly basis from the Animal Health Ireland website click here.

Figure 1A - map showing distribution of PI births during 2016. Each hexagon represents an areas of approximately 10km 2

Figure 1B - map showing distribution of all PI animals born 2013-2016 that remain alive at the end of 2016.



Programme update BVD

Negative herd status (NHS) The status of almost all animals in the 83,000 breeding herds in Ireland is now known, with the main 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 Q1 the number of these animals was approximately 19,000, representing 0.3% of the entire breeding herd population. The majority of these animals (70%) are in beef herds, with a similar proportion being male. 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 Q1 2017, over 80% of herds had acquired NHS, with a further 14,000 only being ineligible due to the presence of a small number of untested animals. All of these herds again received targeted communications in January detailing the animals that require testing to acquire NHS. 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 . Tag supply An important change for 2017 is the availability of more than one source of tags and the associated changes to the tag ordering process. AHI, in conjunction with the National Reference Laboratory of the Veterinary Laboratory Service of DAFM, have worked with designated laboratories to provide herd owners with up-to-date lists of laboratories designated to test these different tag types ( click here for details). PI Retention The retention of PI animals, particularly in the earlier years of the programme, has been identified as the key factor to be addressed in bringing the eradication programme to a conclusion. Modelling work conducted through the BVD Technical Working Group has shown that if retention is resolved (no PI calves retained), eradication is achievable by 2020, whereas continued retention will extend the time to eradication beyond that point. In seeking to address this issue, the BVD Implementation Group (BVDIG) have introduced a number of programme enhancements in 2017, including increased levels of financial support for removal of PIs (but with these being available for a reduced period), the automation of the imposition of restrictions of herds retaining PI calves for more than five weeks after the date of their first test and issuing of notifications to neighbouring herds advising them to review their biosecurity, 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]) and the limiting of confirmatory testing of calves and of their dams to blood samples (funded by DAFM). For further details of the Key Messages for 2017 click here .



Programme Update BVD

Collectively, these measures have had an impact, with only 32 herds retaining 2017-born PIs at the end of Q1 2017, as compared to 154 herds at the same point in 2016. While this clearly demonstrates good progress, it is critical that the incidence of retention is reduced to zero. This is particularly important given the imminent start of the breeding season. Retention of PIs into this period carries a significant risk of creating further PIs to be born in 2018 as a result of susceptible pregnant females being infected in early pregnancy (between approximately 30 and 120 days). Targeted Advisory Service on Animal Health (TASAH) During 2016 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 approximately 1,200 herds with positive results in 2016 (around half of the total number) and preliminary analysis of the results have been carried out. In 80% of herds, the veterinary practitioner was able to identify one or more plausible transmission pathways (most commonly, a single pathway) leading to the birth of PI animals. Of these, 70% were considered to have been from sources external to the herd, while 30% reflected within herd sources. Of thewithin herd sources, retained PI animals were themost commonly identified (30%), followed by introduction of transiently infected animals (24%) without appropriate biosecurity measures such as quarantine, and the presence of Trojan dams (purchased dams that are not themselves PI but are carrying PI calves). Of sources external to the herd, direct contact with cattle at boundaries (38%) was most frequently proposed, followed by indirect contact with cattle by either the herdowner themselves (20%) or other personnel visiting the farm (28%). Based on their findings, the veterinary practitioners and the herdowners agreed up to three biosecurity recommendations designed to prevent re-entry of infection into the herd. Herds that have acquired NHS can be confident that they no longer have BVD virus circulating, and analysis shows that they are much less likely to have PIs subsequently, relative to herds without NHS. However, inadequate attention to biosecurity to prevent introduction of infection from outside sources may lead to reinfection. Based on the findings in 2016, measures to address the following pathways should be put in place, particularly in the coming months when the majority of cattle will be in the early stages of pregnancy: • Movement of personnel (including the farmer) without adequate attention to hygiene. Only essential visitors should contact cattle, particularly in early pregnancy, and all personnel, including the farmer, should use farm-specific boots and clothing or take steps to ensure that adequate disinfection procedures are followed. • Contact with cattle across boundaries. Cattle up to 120 days of pregnancy are at particular risk and where possible should not graze at boundaries where nose to nose contact with other cattle is possible. Boundaries should be sufficient to prevent cattle breaking in or out and provide a gap of at least 3m (even if only on a temporary basis using an electric fence). • Purchased cattle, or those returning unsold or from shows should go through a quarantine process on entering the herd. They should be held in a quarantine facility (building or paddock) for at least 28 days, with



Programme update BVD

particular care taken to avoid them coming in contact with pregnant stock. • Movement or sharing of large or small items of equipment should be avoided where possible. Otherwise, adequate disinfection should be in place. 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 from the Animal Health Ireland website click here . BVD Technical Working Group During this period Professor Michael Doherty, who has ably guided the work of the group thus far, stepped down as chair of the TWG, subsequent to his appointment as Dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine at UCD. His position has been taken by Damien Barrett, a Senior Veterinary Inspector with DAFM and an existing TWG member. During this period a surveillance sub-group of the TWG has been formed with the goal of determining a target herd level prevalence at which a switch from tag testing to serological surveillance can be achieved, and the estimate date on which that target prevalence would be achieved. The sub-group will also report the operation of the surveillance methodology that will be used in the post-tag testing phase of the programme.

Key actions for herdowners 2017 • The small number of farmers with PIs still present in their herds should remove these as quickly as possible with the goal of having as few none alive after the start of the breeding season. • 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 herd owners can also access the status of both their herd and of individual animals free of charge on ICBF click here . • All farmers should review biosecurity to avoid accidental reintroduction of infection. .




Programme Update Johne’s Disease

Johne's Control AnimalHealthIreland.ie

Programme Manager: Lorna Citer

IN THE first quarter of 2017, AHI has focussed on negotiating the details of a future voluntary Johne’s disease control programme. Following support from stakeholders late last year for a programme which built on the knowledge base created during the Pilot programme, the emerging programme, if agreed, is likely to include on-farm risk assessments, testing, as well as an enhanced knowledge transfer programme. Stakeholders acknowledged the need for a broader approach to animal health risk assessments and the future programme is likely to include an assessment of risk for calf health issues and farm biosecurity. The development of a customised animal health score card viewable through the ICBF is also proposed. Under this proposal, the health card would enable farmers to view their herd status for BVD, assurance score for Johne’s disease, and CellCheck SCC by quarter. Through this additional function in ICBF, it is envisaged that farmers will be able to monitor the progress they have made in managing these significant conditions. Following a workshop with Teagasc dairy specialists, AHI and Teagasc have identified ways to work collaboratively to ensure farmers have even greater access to best practice information on dairy hygiene and calf management. Further workshops are scheduled for later this year. Milestone reports were presented by researchers involved in the ICONMap project, a multi-discipline research project funded through DAFM to address knowledge gaps about Johne’s disease in Ireland. The project streams include projects to develop new tests or improve existing ones. It also includes a significant body of research on the attitudes and responses of farmers to Johne’s disease and the management of changes to farming practices on individual farms. Work continues on reviewing and updating documentation in relating to Johne’s disease in preparation for the anticipated implementation of the voluntary control programme.

AHI and Teagasc have identified ways to work collaboratively to ensure farmers have even greater access to best practice information on dairy hygiene and calf management.



Programme Update Beef Healthcheck

Beef HealthCheck AnimalHealthIreland.ie

Programme Manager: Rebecca Carroll

MICHAEL CREED, T.D., Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, officially launched Beef HealthCheck Online in Dublin at the end of January. The launch was also attended by representatives of organisations who have supported and collaborated with Animal Health Ireland on the Beef HealthCheck programme: Meat Industry Ireland (MII), FBD Trust, Veterinary Ireland, the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine (DAFM) and the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF). Beef HealthCheck Online can be accessed free of charge through the ICBF website. This new programme development builds on the paper reporting of health information from abattoirs; it gathers the Beef HealthCheck results for a farm onto an individual online dashboard accessible by the herd owner and, where permissions are in place, the veterinary practitioner. Interactive graphs and tools allow users to search and analyse the information. Farmers and their veterinary practitioners can use Beef HealthCheck Online to implement and monitor herd health plans, including parasite control programmes, pneumonia control programmes and elements of nutritional management.

Philip Carroll (MII), Mike Magan (AHI), Fiona Muldoon (FBD), Minister Michael Creed T.D. Rebecca Carroll, Beef HealthCheck Programme Manager (AHI), Joe O’Flaherty (AHI), Padraig O’ Sullivan (ICBF)



Programme Update Beef Healthcheck

Philip Carroll (MII), Mike Magan (AHI), Joe Ryan (MII), Paul Matthews (ABP Food Group), Denis Brennan (Slaney Foods), Andrew Clarke (Foyle Food Group), David Graham (AHI), Joe O’ Flaherty (AHI), Kelly Stephenson (Dawn Meats), Maria Kilmartin (ABP Food Group), Rebecca Carroll, Beef HealthCheck Programme Manager (AHI), Aine Mulvihill (Kepak Group), Karina Cassidy (MII).

The AHI booklet to help farmers access, interpret and share the Beef HealthCheck Online information with their veterinary practitioner is available on the AHI website click here . A video developed for the launch explains the Beef HealthCheck programme and how the information can used on farms click here .



Programme Update Beef Healthcheck

During the early part of 2017 Temporary Veterinary Inspectors in Meat plants involved in the Beef HealthCheck programme captured information on approximately 20,000 animals and more than 2,000 individual farms every week. The weekly liver and lung results for the first 8 weeks of the year show nationally that liver damage related to fluke is observed in approximately 15% of cattle, and that liver fluke are observed in approximately 4% of cattle (Figure 1). However, the results from individual counties show much higher levels in the northwest and west (Figure 2). Liver abscesses were reported in approximately 4% of cattle (Figure 1). Limited pneumonia lesions were observed in between 1.5 and 2.5% of cattle with an upward trend across the weeks; extensive pneumonia lesions were steady at approximately 0.5% observed in slaughtered cattle.

Figure 1: Weekly liver results from the Beef HealthCheck programme (week 1-8, 2017)

Figure 1: Liver fluke results from the Beef HealthCheck programme by county.



Programme Update Beef Healthcheck

Figure 3: Weekly liver results from the Beef HealthCheck programme (week 1-8, 2017)

Beef HealthCheck Newsletter The spring edition of the Beef HealthCheck newsletter is now available online click here . There are excellent guest contributions on managing the scouring suckler calf from Ingrid Lorenz, Chairperson, CalfCare, Technical Working Group, achieving a 365 calving interval in suckler herds fromDr. David Kenny, Teagasc and the benefits of discussion group membership from Aidan Murray, Beef Specialist, Teagasc.



Programme Update IBR / BioSecurity

AnimalHealthIreland.ie IBRFree

IBR TWG Chairman: Dr Michael Gunn

THE TECHNICAL WorkingGroupmet twice this quarter, in January andMarch. We continue to identify, refine and prioritise knowledge gaps in relation to a possible control programme. We also received updates on discussions on possible measures on IBR Control in Northern Ireland. As we continue to work on options for a national IBR control programme, the provision of laboratory tests is being evaluated, with emphasis on their sensitivity and specificity when applied to different sample matrices (milk and blood). As part of the assessment of the cost-benefit analysis, Dr Mervyn Parr of Teagasc Grange, presented the initial findings of a large study on the effect of IBR on suckler herds. The results of long term studies on IBR infections in dairy herds being monitored by Teagasc Moorepark were also presented. Live animal exports to Member States and any requirements for additional guarantees associated with IBR controls in Member States continue to be monitored. The influence of developments in other members States on options for a possible control scheme in Ireland are being considered on an ongoing basis.

Live animal exports to Member

States and any requirements for additional guarantees

associated with IBR controls in Member States continues to be monitored.



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