AHI_Newsletter Q2 2017 FINAL

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

Events and Media


Luke O’Grady Biosecurity, BVD and CellCheck Technical Working Groups Michael Doherty BVD Technical Working Group Focus on TWG Members


AHI Programme Updates P10

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

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.

071 9671928 Email nmorgan@animalhealthireland.ie


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Events And Media

Focus on Technical Working Group Members



Johne’s Disease

Beef HealthCheck




David Graham, CEO, Animal Health Ireland

Progress continues across a range of AHI programmes and activities, as described in detail in the reports included in this stakeholder newsletter.

The decisions taken by the BVD Implementation Group on a range of programme enhancements for 2017 continue to bear fruit, with the prevalence of births of persistently infected (PI) calves this year standing at 0.09% at the end of June, with only 157 of the PI calves born this year remaining alive and only 35 herds retaining these PIs for more than 5 weeks after the date of their initial test. 1.8% of 83,000 breeding herds had positive or inconclusive results by the end of June. A large proportion of these have already undergone an investigation delivered by a veterinary practitioner and funded through the Targeted Advisory Service on Animal Health (TASAH). A significant milestone was achieved during this period when Carlow became the first county not to have any identified PIs present, and it is hoped to see other counties reach this goal in the coming months. While these results indicate that significant further progress has been made, zero retention remains the goal to achieve eradication as rapidly as possible. Allied with this, it is important, as described in the BVD report, that herds without evidence of infection review their biosecurity to avoid accidental reintroduction of the virus, and where they have not yet been awarded Negative Herd Status to identify and test animals without a negative result.

A significant milestone was achieved during this period when Carlow became the first county not to have any identified PIs present, and it is hoped to see other counties reach this goal in the coming months

As reported by Lorna Citer, programme manager for Johne’s disease, the Johne’s Disease Implementation Group (JDIG) has agreed the commencement of a new programme to commence on a phased basis, starting in September. This very positive and encouraging development comes after an extensive period of consultation with stakeholders. Further information on the programme will be provided in future editions of the newsletter and through our regular Johne’s disease bulletins. A continued focus on training and knowledge transfer has also been evident over the last couple of months. Within the CellCheck programme, there are now 460 Service Providers trained to Stage 2, including vets, milking machine technicians, co-op milk quality advisors and farm advisors, who will facilitate and deliver the next round




of CellCheck Farmer Workshops as part of the Dairy Knowledge Transfer programme. A series of on-farm events, in conjunction with Teagasc and a number of processors, were also held during this period as part of the Beef HealthCheck (BHC) programme, which is also nowcapturing large amounts of abattoir data. As reported by Rebecca Carroll, the BHC programme manager, analysis of these data is providing new information on the prevalence of several conditions in different geographical regions and animal types. These data in particular highlight the importance of optimizing control of liver fluke, which affects over 50% of slaughtered cattle in some counties. These past months have been a period of transition for AHI, following the announcement by Joe O’Flaherty that he was stepping down as CEO and my recent appointment to replacement him. I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the key role that Joe has played in the development of the organisation since it was established in 2009 and to wish him every success in his new role. I look forward to the challenge of leading AHI in the coming years, and of working closely with both existing and new stakeholders to deliver our shared goals.



Events and Media

Communications and Event Manager: Gráinne Dwyer

Beef HealthCheck events A series of five on-farm Beef HealthCheck events were held nationwide during June and July. The events were jointly organised by AHI and Teagasc, and were supported by Kepak Group, ABP Food Group, Dawn Meats, Foyle Food Group and Slaney Foods. The overall theme of the events was – ‘Prevention is better than Cure’. See Beef HealthCheck report on page 16 for further details.

Conal Murnagh (Teagasc) at the introductory stand at the Beef HealthCheck event in Carrickmacross.

John Pringle and family who were the host farmers for the Beef HealthCheck event in Aughrim



Events and Media

Teagasc Moorepark Open Day AHI attended the Teagasc Moorepark Open Day, presenting various aspects of the CellCheck programme in the Animal Health Village and providing information on all aspects of AHI’s work from our stand in the Industry Section. The Open Day provided us with an excellent opportunity to promote the work of AHI, in addition to meeting our farmer stakeholders and answering many of their queries in relation to our various programmes.

Frank O’Sullivan, member of the CellCheck Technical Working Group discusses milk quality and mastitis control at Moorepark Open Day

AHI stand at Moorepark Open Day



Events and Media

NDC Open Day The NDC Open Day was held on the Power Family farm in Cappagh, Co. Waterford in June. AHI participated in the event, engaging with our stakeholders in relation to the CellCheck programme and answering farmers’ queries on mastitis control and quality milk production. AHI travel to Prague In June, Mike Magan (AHI Chairman) and David Graham (DCEO) gave presentations on the Animal Health Ireland model and the Irish BVD eradication programme to an audience of government officials, academics, diagnosticians and industry representatives in Prague. While a national IBR eradication programme is now entering its final stages in the Czech Republic, there is currently no programme to address BVD, and the event was organised to inform the audience of the design, implementation and progress of the Irish programme, and the role of AHI in this and other programmes. AHI Training Training continued in May when we held two Johne’s Disease VRAMP training sessions in Gurteen Agricultural College, Roscrea and Ballyhaise Agricultural College. Participation in VRAMP training is essential for vets wishing to become Approved Veterinary Practitioners (AVPs).

VRAMP training in Ballyhaise Agricultural College, Cavan



Focus on Technical Working Group Members

Name: Luke O’Grady Profession: Lecturer in Population Medicine TWG Membership: Biosecurity, BVD and CellCheck Technical Working Groups

Luke is originally from Glasgow in Scotland. He graduated from Glasgow Veterinary School in 2003 (BVMS) and after a short period in general practice he undertook an internship within the large animal clinical studies department at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital in University College Dublin. In 2005 he then embarked on a European College of Bovine Health Management residency-training programme. In 2007 he took up his current role as a lecturer in Population Medicine within the unit of Herd and Veterinary Public Health at UCD. In 2008, he attained further specialist qualifications by receiving a diploma from the European College in Bovine Health Management. Luke has an interest in all aspects of herd health and his research areas include the creation and delivery of dairy herd health management systems, disease investigation strategies, simulation modelling, animal health economics and veterinary education. He is currently a member of several Animal Health Ireland technical working groups working to develop control programmes for infectious diseases and mastitis.

Name: Prof Michael Doherty Profession: Dean of School of Veterinary Medicine TWG Membership: BVD Technical Working Group

Michael is Dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine and Professor of Veterinary Clinical Studies in the School of Veterinary Medicine, University College Dublin. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh, his background is in cattle practice in Donegal and at the Farm Animal Unit of the University of Glasgow. He has managed many clinical research programmes, including studies of herd health in conventional and organic dairy herds and published extensively in clinical aspects of farm animal health. A European Specialist in Sheep Health Management, Michael is a past-President of the European College of Bovine Health Management. He is actively involved, along with colleagues in the UCD Herd Health Group, in the promotion, development and implementation of herd health in Ireland.



Programme Update CellCheck

CellCheck AnimalHealthIreland.ie

Programme Manager: Finola McCoy

Therewere twomeetings of thenewly constitutedCellCheck Implementation Group (IG) in the second quarter of this year. Several key industry challenges have been identified by the group: antimicrobial usage and resistance; dealing with herds with chronic mastitis issues; and the relatively low uptake of milk recording in Irish herds. Members of the Implementation Group considered the views of Irish and international experts and then held facilitated workshop sessions on these themes. In the workshops, members explored the problems in greater depth, seeking to develop solutions and an action plan to address them. Scheduling of the remaining CellCheck Farmer Workshops as part of the Dairy Knowledge Transfer programme was completed, with delivery of these workshops commencing towards the end of this quarter. The final Stage 2 Service Provider training session of 2017, which equips participants to deliver CellCheck farmer workshops, was also held, bringing the total number of service providers trained to over 460. A Finnish veterinary practitioner, currently studying in UCD for a Masters in Agricultural Science, has based her final thesis on the CellCheck Stage 2 Service Provider training. This will involve evaluating all of the participant feedback sheets completed anonymously on the day of training, as well as an online post-training survey that participants are encouraged to complete.

Several key industry challenges have been identified by the IG: antimicrobial usage and resistance; dealing with herds with chronic mastitis issues; and the relatively low uptake of milk recording



Programme Update BVD

AnimalHealthIreland.ie BVDFree

Programme Manager: Dr David Graham

Results By the end of Q2 of 2017, 1.95 million calves had been tested, representing approximately 85% of the anticipated calf crop for the year. Testing has been completed for 98% of these calves, of which 0.09% were considered to be persistently infected (PI) with BVDV, with these being located in 1.8% of 83,000 breeding herds. This represents a decrease in PI prevalence of more than seven-fold since the start of the compulsory phase of the programme in 2013, when 0.66% of calves born were PI, and a further reduction from 2016 (Figures 1A, B). Updated programme results are available on a weekly basis click here .



























2015 2016 2017 (YTD)



2015 2016 2017 (YTD)



Figure 1B. Prevalence of PI calves born during each year of the programme (YTD; year to date)

Figure 1A. Prevalence of herds with PI calves born during each year of the programme (YTD; year to date)

A key goal of the programme in 2017 has been the prompt removal of PI calves as soon as possible after birth, with a number of programme enhancements put in place to address this. These include: 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; the issuing of notifications to neighbouring herds advising them to review their biosecurity; mandatory herd investigations (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 a significant impact. Based on this progress, an important milestone was reached in May, when Carlow became the first county to have no known PIs alive (Figure 2). At the end of Q2 2017, there were only 157 PIs born during the year still alive, compared to 634 alive at the same point last year, representing a four-fold reduction. Only 35 herds were actually retaining PIs born in 2017 at the end of Q2 (no registered date of death within 5 weeks of the date of initial test), compared to 192 herds at the same point in 2016, representing a reduction of more than six-fold. While this clearly demonstrates good progress, it is critical that the incidence of retention is reduced to zero. This is particularly important given that the breeding season is now underway. 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).

Carlow became the first county to have no known PIs alive

Figure 2. Map showing distribution of live PI animals at the end of June 2017. Each hexagon represents an area of approximately 10km2.



Programme Update BVD

Targeted Advisory Service on Animal Health (TASAH) During 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 693 herds with positive results in 2017 (57%). A small number have not been completed within the 3 months allocated and these are now being contacted to progress the investigations. Negative herd status (NHS) Herds qualify for negative herd status (NHS) by meeting the following requirements: 1. existenceof anegativeBVDstatus for everyanimal currently in theherd (on thebasisof 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 Q2 2017, over 82% of herds (68,431) had acquired NHS, with a further 13,000 only being ineligible due to the presence of a small number of untested animals. The majority of these animals are in beef herds, and they are predominantly male. The BVDIG is seeking to encourage the identification and sampling of these animals over the course of 2017, ideally in conjunction with the TB test, to ensure that their status is resolved and as many herds as possible acquire NHS. 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 may lead to the re-introduction of infection from outside sources. Based on the findings from TASAH investigations in 2016, measures to address the following pathways should be put in place, particularly during the summer months when the majority of breeding females are in the early stages of pregnancy and therefore susceptible to the establishment of PI calves: • 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 andwhere 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 particular care being 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 AHI website click here.



Programme Update BVD

BVD Technical Working Group A surveillance sub-group of the TWG continues to work on identifying a target herd level prevalence at which a switch from tag testing to serological surveillance can be implemented. The sub-group is also seeking to estimate the date on which that target prevalence will be achieved, and will report on the operation of the surveillance methodology to be used in the post-tag testing phase of the programme. Key actions for herdowners in 2017 • Test-positive herds: - Prompt removal of PI calves following positive results. - The small number of farmers retaining PIs should remove these as quickly as possible. - Where a TASAH herd investigation has not been carried out, farmers should contact their PVP to arrange this. • Test-negative herds - 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 for a step-by-step guide to viewing BVD data on ICBF). • All herds: - Review biosecurity to avoid accidental reintroduction of infection.



Programme Update Johne’s Disease

Johne's Control AnimalHealthIreland.ie

Programme Manager: Lorna Citer

Animal Health Ireland recently announced that the Johne’s Disease Implementation Group (JDIG) has agreed the commencement of a new programme for the control of Johne’s Disease in Ireland. Building on the experience of the pilot control programme for dairy herds (2014-2016), the design of this new broadly-based control programme has been agreed by the Implementation Group, taking account of the recommendations of the Johne’s Disease Technical Working Group. The programme will be introduced in two phases, the first phase commencing early in September 2017, and the second phase expected to start early in 2018. Phase One will act as a bridge to the new programme for those herds that participated in the pilot programme. The new programme builds on the knowledge and experience gained from the pilot programme, a review of international best practice, and extensive consultation with stakeholders. Phase Two is to start in early 2018, following the completion of an international consultant’s report on the relative effectiveness of a number of proposed, new programme measures. In parallel with the developmental work on the new programme, there has been significant programme activity, including the training of additional veterinary practitioners to undertake on-farm risk assessments and develop management plans. A long-term project to improve farmer and veterinary access to ICBF herd testing and VRAMP information has progressed and the first phase of this project is likely to be operational by the end of the 2017. Work on the development of VRAMP guidelines for the beef sector is also being progressed.

In parallel with the developmental work on the new programme, there has been significant programme activity, including the training of additional veterinary practitioners to undertake on-farm risk assessments and develop management plans



Programme Update Beef Healthcheck

Beef HealthCheck AnimalHealthIreland.ie

Programme Manager: Rebecca Carroll

A series of Beef HealthCheck events took place at the end of June and early July. These events were joint ventures between Animal Health Ireland, Teagasc and Meat Industry Ireland, with a local meat processor supporting each of the five on-farm events for beef farmers. The theme of the events was ‘prevention is better than cure’ – an old adage but one that is very relevant today with the increased focus on antimicrobial resistance and minimising the use of antibiotics on farms. On each farm the farmer and their vet spoke about health in the herd, problems encountered, how these were dealt with and the preventive measures that were put in place to keep animals free of disease. Over the course of the five events we saw different farm systems, including finishing units, (where buying in policies and the management of new arrivals to minimise stress and prevent disease were discussed), and suckler farms (where calf health was reviewed). On all farms the key take-home message was that healthy cattle need less medicines and that good husbandry and preventive measures will reduce antibiotic usage on farms.

Rebecca Carroll explaining the Beef HealthCheck report to farmers at a Beef HealthCheck Event in Donegal



Programme Update Beef Healthcheck

David Webster (Teagasc) talking on the importance of Faecal Egg Sampling as part of an on-farm parasite control plan

Aidan Murray (Teagasc), Adam Woods (IFJ), Jonathan Forbes (Kepak), Mark & Enda Moore and family (host farmers), Grainne Dwyer and Rebecca Carroll (AHI) at Beef HealthCheck Event in Kinnegad



Programme Update Beef Healthcheck

With a newAnimal Health Ireland leaflet ‘ Neospora caninum - A guide for Farmers and Vets’ now available, vets discussed this leading cause of abortion in Irish cattle, outlining how to investigate an abortion and highlighting the importance of submitting samples to laboratories. Control measures for farms with Neospora problems and prevention strategies for herds free of the disease were summarised. Advisors from Teagasc discussed the use of faecal egg counts to guide the use of anthelmintics on farms. Faecal sample results from research farms and recent results from the host farmwere reviewed. Farmers we met at the events are receiving Beef HealthCheck reports for slaughtered cattle from their participating meat plants. At the events I showed examples of the conditions that can be found in the livers and lungs of slaughtered cattle and advised farmers how they can use the reports and the Beef HealthCheck online tools, available on the ICBF website, to monitor liver fluke dosing programmes, respiratory disease control and the management of finishing cattle diets. National results from the programme were reported and farmers were shown local results from their county.



Programme Update Beef Healthcheck

By the end of June more than 450,000 animal Beef HealthCheck results had been reported to the ICBF database. Graphs shown at the Beef HealthCheck events reporting liver fluke status by county, showwide differences between animals going to slaughter from counties in the northwest and counties in the east. We also reported results for heifers, steers and young bulls. The steers and young bulls had slightly more lesions relating to pneumonia and liver abscesses. A scientific paper titled ‘A protocol to identify and minimise selection and information bias in abattoir surveys estimating prevalence, using Fasciola hepatica as an example’ was published in Preventive Veterinary Medicine. This paper was written by myself and my co-authors were David Graham (DCEO, AHI), Andy Forbes (Former Chairperson of the AHI Parasite Control TWG) and Locksley Messam (Veterinary Epidemiologist, UCD). The paper discusses the use of abattoir data to identify disease prevalence in animal populations and provides a guide for using Beef HealthCheck data to measure disease prevalence. Finally, I had the opportunity to speak to veterinary medicine students in University College Dublin and tell them about the Beef HealthCheck programme. I outlined the tools the programme has for vets and farmers and reported on recent findings from the programme.



Programme Update IBR / BioSecurity

AnimalHealthIreland.ie IBRFree

IBR TWG Chairman: Dr Michael Gunn

Meetings of the IBR Technical Working Group were held in May and June. Dr Kevin Hanrahan of the Rural Economy and Development Centre, Teagasc, provided an update to the group on the ongoing analysis of the economic cost of IBR, focusing on the impacts of the disease in Ireland on animal productivity, national genetic gain and the live export sector. A final report is anticipated in the next quarter. The TWG continues to work on options for a national control programme, including the use of initial snapshot tests (bulk tank milk or a limited number of blood samples) to identify low prevalence herds which could move rapidly to freedom. The TWG is also evaluating data on a range of commercial test kits. Work is underway to recruit a PhD student to develop statistical models for IBR in Ireland, similar to those previously developed for BVD. This work will generate farm-level and national-level outputs and will allow ‘what if’ scenarios to be evaluated, contributing to the development and refinement of any future programme.

BioSecurity TWG Chairman: Dr John Mee

Two meetings were held in spring to discuss the biosecurity implications of the outcomes from the TASAH investigations in 2016 BVD-positive herds and to redraft the Cattle Vaccination Fact Sheet Leaflet and Vaccination FAQ documents. Due to TWG member commitments and upcoming holidays, further meetings were postponed until the autumn, with the next meeting scheduled to take place in September. Further information is available on the AHI website click here.



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