20140417 Spring Newsletter FINAL

AHI Newsletter SPRING 2014

AHI Newsletter SPRING 2014

Animal Health Ireland, Main Street, Carrick-on-Shannon, Co. Leitrim 071 9671928

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admin@animalhealthireland.ie www.animalhealthireland.ie



Focus on Technical Working Group Members



Johne’s Disease




Parasite Control

Events And Media

Animal Health Ireland, Main Street, Carrick-on-Shannon, Co. Leitrim 071 9671928 admin@animalhealthireland.ie www.animalhealthireland.ie

AHI Newsletter SPRING 2014


At a ceremony in the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham on 9th April, AHI received an award as part of the Irish Times/Intertrade Ireland Innovation Awards 2014. The award, which was presented by An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, was for North-South Collaborative Innovation. It is often the case with awards of this nature that, while only one individual or organisation is singled out for recognition, credit is due to a much wider team. This was especially true on this occasion, as the strong north-south collaboration that has developed in the field of animal health over the past number of years owes a huge amount to the hard work and dedication of the Boards and staff of both AHI and

Joe O’Flaherty, CEO

Animal Health and Welfare NI (AHWNI) and to the members of the Technical Working Groups and Implementation Groups, who have worked closely together on developing programmes to improve animal health across the island of Ireland. Furthermore, none of what is being built would have been possible without the active involvement in animal health programmes on the part of farmers north and south of the border, or without the huge financial and other contributions made by the stakeholders of both AHI and AHWNI. There can be no more natural a field for all-island collaboration than the control of infectious diseases, and it is to be hoped that the collaboration between the two jurisdictions can be deepened and strengthened further in the future.

Thomas Hunter McGowan of InterTradeIreland, Mike Magan, Chairman of AHI, Taoiseach Enda Kenny, David Graham, BVD Programme Manager and Joe O’Flaherty, CEO, AHI.

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AHI Newsletter SPRING 2014

David Graham provides a detailed account below of the progress made in the BVD eradication programme to date. A significant reduction in the weekly disease incidence has been achieved since the programme began, and this is greatly to be welcomed. However, it is the case that PI calves born in 2014 were created in the lifetime of the programme, highlighting the challenges inherent in eradicating a highly infectious disease such as BVD. Chief amongst these is the challenge of encouraging farmers who identify PI animals to remove these as promptly as possible. The most up- to-date figures show that of the approximately 14,000 PIs identified in 2013, about 22% remain alive, according to the Department of Agriculture’s AIM system. The BVD Implementation Group has always strongly recommended that PI animals should be culled or slaughtered as soon as possible after being identified. It is particularly important that they be removed prior to the start of the 2014 breeding season, as their retention creates the risk that further pregnant animals will become infected, in turn leading to the birth of additional PI calves next year. In addition to the problems this may cause in the herd of the farmer who chooses to hold on to a PI animal, there are very real risks for neighbouring herds, and ultimately for the national programme, raising the real possibility of all herds being required to tag test for more years than originally planned. It is intended to address these issues more comprehensively in a forthcoming News Release from AHI on behalf of the BVD Implementation Group.

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AHI Newsletter SPRING 2014

Focus on Technical Working Group Members

Name: Peter Maher Profession: Senior Superintending Veterinary Inspector, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine TWG Membership: IBR and BVD Implementation Group

Peter qualified from the Veterinary College, UCD, in 1978 and was awarded a Master’s Degree in Information Technology from NUI Galway in 2006. He first worked in Skibbereen in West Cork before returning to Athy, Co Kildare in October 1979 to work with his father and brother in a mixed but mostly large animal practice. Peter was a member of the Irish Veterinary Association executive for 14 years and was President of the Irish Veterinary Association (IVA) from 1992 to 1993. He was the IVA representative on the ERAD board in the late 1980s. He left general practice to join the Department of Agriculture in November 1996 and after a short period in Liffey Meats joined ERAD Division in January 1997, where he has worked since, initially on Brucellosis, and then following its eradication, on the animal identification and movement systems. He has been involved with wildlife and TB since the mid-1980s. Peter’s current work is in the area of animal identification andmovement systems and the identification of holdings. He also works alongside the various project teams involved in the Department’s strategic computer systems (AIM and AHCS) and has developed systems that enable GIS technology to be used in the control of disease outbreaks. He is also involved in a long-term project on tracking badgers using GPS collars and GSM technology. Peter is a member of the IBR Technical Working Group and the DAFM representative on the BVD Implementation Group.

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AHI Newsletter SPRING 2014

Focus on Technical Working Group Members

Name: Donal Lynch Profession: Veterinary Practitioner TWG Membership: IBR

Donal Lynch is originally from Dublin and is now based and working in Tullamore. He qualified from the School of Veterinary Medicine (UCD) in 2000. He is past President of Veterinary Ireland and past Chairperson of the Food Animal Group of Veterinary Ireland. He is also a member of XLVets IRELAND, a group of independently-owned veterinary practices that have come together to work to improve the health of the animals under their care. Since qualification he has worked in mixed general practice with particular emphasis in cattle health and production. Prior to qualifying as a vet he spent time working in the agricultural sector on a large progressive dairy herd. Donal maintains a keen interest in all veterinary and agricultural matters. Donal is a member of the IBR Technical Working Group and is a Veterinary Ireland representative on the BVD Implementation Group

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AHI Newsletter SPRING 2014


Programme: National Bvd Eradication Programme Programme Manager: Dr David Graham

The compulsory phase of the eradication programme that began on 1st January 2013 has now entered its second year. During 2013 the level of compliance by farmers with the requirement to tag and test all calves born was very high. At the end of March 2014, only 8,800 (0.4%) of the approximately 2.1 million calves registered in 2013 remained untested, with the majority of these untested calves being dead. The overall test results for tissue tag samples in 2013 indicated that 0.8% of calves had a positive or inconclusive initial result. This figure fell to 0.67% when the results of negative confirmatory testing were taken into account. Overall some 11.25% of herds tested in 2013 had one or more positive results with some 14,000 PIs identified. At the end of March 2014, approximately 10,443 of these were recorded as dead, while 3,576 were still alive in some 2,377 herds (2.9% of breeding herds), based on data held on the Department of Agriculture’s Animal Identification and Movement System (AIMS). The BVD Implementation Group (BVDIG) strongly recommends the prompt disposal of PI animals following their identification, and the retention of some 25% of PI animals born in 2013 is a cause for concern to both the BVDIG and the Technical Working Group (TWG). Culling is recommended for two main reasons: firstly, because only a minority of PI animals will survive to salvage weight; but more importantly, because their retention on-farm creates an enormous risk of infection spreading from these animals to susceptible pregnant animals in the farmer’s own herd or neighbouring herds, resulting in the birth of further PI animals in the following season. With the impending start of the breeding season for many herds around May 1st, it is critical that as few PIs as possible remain on farm at that date to prevent a further cycle of transmission that will result in the birth of another round of PI calves in 2015. Results for 2013 also showed that approximately 620 herds with positive results had PIs born to animals that were in-calf when introduced (Trojan animals). Analysis of the identities of these animals suggested that in some cases (120 herds) these were returning to their birth herds, after being bred in another herd. The introduction into herds of purchased animals, particularly those that are in-calf, is another key biosecurity risk that will need to be controlled.

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AHI Newsletter SPRING 2014

A PI heifer or cow will always produce a PI calf, so the dams of calves with positive or inconclusive results (termed DAMPI animals) are also under suspicion of being PI. Testing of these DAMPI animals in 2013 found 6.5% to be positive. The remainder were negative, their calves having been born PI as a result of transient infection during early pregnancy. This in turn is typically due to their having contact with a PI animal. These figures highlight the importance of the prompt identification and removal of PI animals in preventing the birth of further PI calves. In 2014 to date, tissue samples from some 590,000 calves have been tested. Relative to 2013 the numbers testing positive or inconclusive on initial test has reduced from 0.8% to 0.43%, while the number remaining positive after retest decreased from 0.67% to 0.42%. The level of empty tags is also lower this year (0.86% compared to 1.16%), reflecting greater familiarity with the use of tissue tags. When data are analysed on a week by week basis (% PI calves born) rather than on an annual basis, it is evident that the highest incidence of PI births (1.21%) occurred at the end of July 2013. Since then the overall trend has been downward, the lowest value of 0.38% having been recorded in the last week of January 2014, with the incidence remaining relatively steady since then.

Percentage of PI calves born each week since the 1st of January 2013 from the start of the compulsory phase of the BVD eradication programme. Calves are born PI due to infection in utero in early pregnancy (on average 30 weeks prior to birth).

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AHI Newsletter SPRING 2014

Calves born PI at the end of July 2013 will have been infected as unborn calves in early pregnancy some 30 weeks previously, i.e. in early January 2013. Therefore the downward trend in birth of PIs from July onwards is a consequence of a downward trend in the creation of PI calves from the earliest stages of the compulsory programme, indicating that the measures taken within the programme have had an almost immediate impact. However, it is recognised that the PI calves being born now were created within the compulsory phase of the programme. This highlights the importance of key eradication measures within the programme, including the prompt testing of calves (and their dams where positive), the prompt removal of PIs when identified and the performance of wider herd investigations following positive results to identify and remove further PI animals if present. It is vital that herdowners do their utmost to avoid the introduction of infection through the purchase of animals (including Trojans) of unknown status without adequate quarantine and testing, or as a result of boundary contacts. During this quarter the BVD Implementation Group (BVDIG) also established a sub-group (the compliance appeals panel [CAP]) to consider appeals by herdowners who had submitted samples during the voluntary phase of the programme in 2012, but who had been advised that they had not complied with the guidelines. This process is now almost complete, with results from 2012 for some 7,200 herds recognised within the programme. The TWG and BVDIG have also been considering the conditions that will need to be fulfilled for herds to be awarded a ‘negative herd status’ and the surveillance methods that would be required to maintain such a status. It is intended that these changes will be incorporated into legislation over the course of this year. In advance of that, the BVDIG has also had input into the BVD Regulations (2014) which came into place in March 2014, replacing the BVD Order (2012). The two principal changes from the existing legislation are the introduction of a specific prohibition on untested calves, born after 1st January 2013, from being moved to slaughter, and the awarding of National Reference Laboratory status for BVD to the Veterinary Laboratory Services of DAFM. Programme communications during this period have focussed on the biosecuritymessages mentioned above. In addition, the issue of underpayment of postage on samples was brought to the attention of the BVDIG by An Post, who have stated their intention to return to sender or dispose of underpaid samples where no return address is provided. To inform farmers of these proposed measures, two rounds of SMS messages were issued to all herd owners for whom a mobile phone number is available on the database. These messages were supplemented by articles in the farming press.

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AHI Newsletter SPRING 2014

AHI has also continued to interact with the development of the eradication programme in Northern Ireland, including input into a Working Group established by Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) to progress the transition to a compulsory programme in 2014

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AHI Newsletter SPRING 2014


Programme: CellCheck Programme Manager: Finola McCoy

Two more Stage 2 service provider training days were held in January, with full attendance, bringing the number of trained service providers up to almost 350. The seven Regional Coordinators continue to organise CellCheck Farmer Workshops around the country, along with teams of trained service providers. The two Stage 2 training days to be held in May are likely to be the final opportunities for training in 2014. The TWG continues to work on designing material to support service provider training in problem solving (Stage 3), and resources to facilitate effective problem-solving on farm. Collaboration with Dairy Australia has provided access to training resources, which are currently being reviewed by the TWG to determine their suitability for use in Ireland. Attendance at the 2014 Nuffield Contemporary Scholars Conference afforded an opportunity to visit Dairy Australia, and update and share experiences on the ongoing development of both the CellCheck and Countdown Downunder programmes. A visit to DairyNZ also allowed discussions about opportunities for future collaborations and resource-sharing. Discussions with both of these programme development teams have been very useful and relevant, particularly to the development of CellCheck Stage 3 training. The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine convened a meeting with personnel from each of the participating processors, ICBF and AHI, to plan the ongoing collation and analysis of SCC data. At the meeting, AHI presented an outline of the type of analysis planned for the SCC data, while ICBF outlined the data specification requirements to ensure the uniformity of data collected in the future. The interaction with the co-op personnel responsible for dataflow provided an opportunity to address various practical challenges and issues that have arisen and to help ensure that the on-going collection of this vital information is as efficient as possible.

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AHI Newsletter SPRING 2014


Programme: Johne’s Disease Programme Manager: Dr Sam Strain

The enrolment for the AHI Johne’s Voluntary Control Programme has now ended with over 1,900 applicants to the programme. Herdowners enrolled within the programme must ensure that each animal over 2 years of age at the date of enrolment is tested using either one blood test or two milk tests. Irrespective of the test used, samples must not be taken within 3 months following a TB skin test (including the second day of a TB test) as this can lead to false positive test results. Where two milk samples are used they must be taken at least 3 months apart. Only designated laboratories can be used to carry out these tests. A list of designated labs can be found on the AHI website at www.johnes.ie. All test results are uploaded by the labs to the ICBF database where they can be viewed by the herdowner and the approved veterinary practitioner. Where there is uncertainty as to whether infection is present in a herd, ancillary faecal testing is available to detect the Map organism using the Central Veterinary Research Laboratory, Backweston. In support of the programme, 15 training events have taken place with 318 veterinary practitioners now trained and approved to carry out the veterinary on-farm risk assessment and management plan (V-RAMP) for enrolled herdowners. Further training will be available in May and June to those vets that have been nominated by herdowners but who are not yet trained. The details of this training and how to enrol can be found on the AHI website. To date, approximately 300 on-farm risk assessments have been carried out by approved veterinary practitioners and uploaded to the ICBF database. DAFM are providing funding to support V-RAMP delivery to all herds enrolled within the programme, with payment to practices administered by AHI. Practices will only be remunerated for completed V-RAMPs when the findings and management advice have been communicated to the herdowner and uploaded to the ICBF database. To upload V-RAMP results, the veterinary practitioner must first be a registered ICBF user. If not already registered, practices can register directly on the ICBF website (www.icbf.com) by clicking on the ‘services’ tab and then on the ‘Register Your Organisation,’ link where practice details can be submitted. Once ICBF has verified and approved the application, practice registration can be completed and individual user accounts created for the veterinary practice.

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AHI Newsletter SPRING 2014

During the second half of 2014, a detailed evaluation of all aspects of the programme including the V-RAMP will be undertaken. As part of this, it is likely that feedback will be sought from participating herdowners and approved veterinary practitioners to assist with the evaluation of the V-RAMP and to inform discussions with stakeholders on the future direction of any control programme beyond 2014.

Ciaran Mellett presenting to a group of vets at VRAMP training in Grange.

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AHI Newsletter SPRING 2014


Programme: Biosecurity Biosecurity TWG Chairman: Dr John Mee

A number of articles were prepared for the farming media to coincide with the calving season, a critical time for bio-containment measures. The next leaflets in the Bio-security series – ‘Bio-containment: Preventing disease spread on-farm’, and ‘Biocontainment: Managing a disease outbreak on-farm’ are currently in an advanced draft form, awaiting finalisation at our next TWG meeting, which is scheduled for May 2014. Further information is available on the Biosecurity webpage on the AHI website, and past press publications are available on the Biosecurity press page.


Programme: IBR IBR TWG Chairman: Dr Michael Gunn

A meeting of the TWG was held in February. The draft of the advisory document for producers of high genetic merit dairy bulls that could potentially be used for AI was amended and prepared for publishing. A similar document for beef animals will be initiated shortly. The TWG is also currently developing a document outlining some of the knowledge gaps in relation to IBR control in Ireland, which it is hoped will be used to help inform future research in this area.

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AHI Newsletter SPRING 2014


Programme: CalfCare™ CalfCare™ TWG Chairman: Dr Ingrid Lorenz

This spring, the work of the CalfCare TWG has been based mainly on educating and delivering information to farmers on the key messages developed previously by the CalfCare TWG. Members of the TWG have been involved as authors of several articles in the farming press. We have contributed to the Irish Farmers’ Journal Calf Health Supplement, the Irish Farmers’ Monthly Calf Supplement and the Farm Examiner Calf Supplement. We have also contributed to the Dairygold ‘Dairy Matters’, the ICOS Monthly Newsletter and two of the last three AHI monthly stakeholders’ articles. These articles are available on the AHI website http://www.animalhealthireland.ie/page.php?id=57. Our TWG members presented at the four regional AHI/Teagasc CalfCare Open Days during January. These CalfCare farm walks took place on the farms of the regional winners of the National Heifer Competition which was supported by Volac. The topics covered included colostrummanagement and care of the scouring calf.

Ian Hogan presenting to farmers on colostrum management on the farm of Declan Murphy, Effin, Co. Limerick.

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AHI Newsletter SPRING 2014

pROGRAMME UPDATE Parasite Control

Programme: Parasite Control Parasite Control TWG Chairman: Dr Andrew Forbes

The two main activities of the Parasite Control TWG have been updating the rumen fluke literature and finalising the leaflet ‘Lungworm – the facts’. Both subjects have created lively discussion and debate. It has highlighted the dilemma as to how much weight should be placed on clinical observations, particularly when, in general, a strong evidence base is lacking. The revision of the rumen fluke material largely resulted from recent research that indicates that Calicophoron daubneyi is probably the predominant species of rumen fluke in northern Europe. This will prove to be a real challenge as the intermediate host of C. daubneyi is commonly Galba truncatula, the same snail that hosts the liver fluke Fasciola hepatica, meaning that the epidemiology of the two fluke species overlap. It was previously assumed that Paramphistomum cervi was the species of rumen fluke in Ireland. This typically has an aquatic snail as an intermediate host and thus its epidemiology is related to larger water courses and areas prone to flooding. The debate continues as to whether adult rumen fluke can cause clinical ill thrift or other syndromes. The lungworm leaflet has had its final review and will shortly be accessible on the AHI website. AHI will highlight its availability to all Stakeholders when it is live on the website. In preparation for 2014, information on parasite control by farm type is being gathered and consolidated; the aim is to provide a ‘systems’ approach to parasite control on spring-calving dairy farms and beef suckler enterprises.

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AHI Newsletter SPRING 2014


Johne’s Disease VRAMP Veterinary Training

In January, additional funding was announced by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to further support the Johne’s Disease pilot programme, allowing for an increased level of participation by dairy farmers. Since the commencement of the pilot, 318 vets have been trained to carry out the on-farm risk assessment component of the programme. AHI is grateful of the support of Teagasc, which has generously made its training facilities available for this purpose. Three additional veterinary training sessions are to be held in 2014, on the following dates: • 14th May, Moorepark Research Centre, Fermoy

• 21st May, Kildalton Agricultural College, Piltown, Kilkenny • 5th June, Ballyhaise Agricultural College, Ballyhaise, Cavan

Veterinary Practitioners completing the practical element of the Johne’s Disease VRAMP Training in Meath.

Sam Strain, Programme Manager for the Johne’s Disease programme presenting to practitioners in Grange on 29th of January.

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CellCheck Stage 2 Training A further two CellCheck Stage 2 training sessions were held in January. Participants included Teagasc Advisors, veterinary practitioners, milking machine technicians and Co-op milk quality advisors. These trained services providers will now be in involved and facilitate CellCheck Farmer Workshops around the country. Two further CellCheck Stage 2 Training sessions for service providers are planned for May: • 7th May, Moorepark Research Centre, Fermoy • 13th May, Kildalton Agricultural College, Piltown, Kilkenny

Karen Brosnan (Course Facilitator) doing group work with the participants at the CellCheck S2T in Kildalton Agricultural College.

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AHI/Teagasc CalfCare Farm Open Days AHI and Teagasc, supported by Volac, hosted a series of four farmer Open Days around the country in January 2014. The target audience included dairy farmers and their advisors. The farm events were hosted on the farms of the regional winners of the Teagasc/Volac National Heifer Rearing competition in 2013. At each farm walk, the topics covered were colostrum management, care of the scouring calf, Johne’s Disease, nutrition/reaching target weights at weaning and calf housing/facilities post 2015.

Speakers on behalf of AHI at the CalfCare farm walk on the farm of John Walsh, Timoleague, Cork were Ingrid Lorenz (UCD), Ciaran Mellett (PVP, Kells) and Lea Krump (UCD)

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In excess of 600 farmers attended the CalfCare events over the four days and we were very happy with the turn out. Thanks are due to our colleagues in Teagasc, George Ramsbottom and Tom O’Dwyer and the team of Teagasc advisors who helped with the organisation and running of these events

Muireann Conneely of Moorepark presenting on behalf of AHI to farmers on the farm of Kevin and Mairead Heavin in Cloghan, Offaly

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Irish Times Innovation Awards 2014

In January, Animal Health Ireland was shortlisted in the Agri-Food category of the Irish Times Innovation Awards for its work on the national BVD eradication programme. In their presentation to the judging panel, Joe O’Flaherty, David Graham and Mike Magan emphasised: • The innovative nature of AHI, the lead co-ordinator of the BVD eradication programme; • The innovative features of the cross-industry national BVD eradication programme, including the introduction of tissue sample-enabled national ID tags, the development of the capacity of private laboratories in Ireland to support the programme, and the development, in conjunction with ICBF, of a national database to manage the programme; • The effectiveness of the project management across a highly diverse stakeholder group; • The impact of eradication of farm profitability; • The contribution to sustainability, on an all-island basis, of the dairy and suckler sectors. The other finalists in our category are Richard Keenan & Company, Carlow and BFree Gluten Free Foods.

Gráinne Dwyer Communications and Event Manager

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