Viburnum, also known as the snowball tree in full bloom.

The strain of having your farm go down with BVD

Stand in the Gap

Kathleen Duffy

Well it is nice to be back writing after a hectic Spring.

The candles are on the chestnut trees and the apple blooms blowing in the wind. These are the months when the Dawn Chorus is a joy to hear, the wild bluebells appearing from under the shelter of the hedgerow and I get to smell the scent of the whitethorn flowers, which is late this year when the rain finally stopped. The cherry blossom has already spread a carpet of pink petals all over the place. The swallows have just arrived but not as many as in other years, they are swishing in and out of the calf house. The ground is finally drying but there are wet patches and wet bottoms in lots of fields and yet the ground is very hard in places.


For the non-farmer, every calf born on the farm is tagged in both ears. One tag also takes a sample for testing for bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD). Last year we also joined the genotyping testing of all animals, so this means the second tag now samples the calf’s DNA and this sample is sent to a seperate labratory to verify genomics. This genomic test delays the registration of calves for a number of weeks.

Everything was flying as far as calving was concerned until St Patrick’s weekend. Then we were left shocked at the message on Ned's phone. After almost 2,000 calves born through the years having tested negative for BVD, one calf came back positive. We thought BVD was a thing of the past. The shock and the realisation of what happened and the consequences were unbelievable. We all say that once it is outside the door it is not major problem, but I now have a new found sympathy for the strain felt on any farm that is unfortunate enough to go down with TB or BVD.

We have a closed herd and do not buy in except a bull every few years, and he is tested for everything. The calf was from a heifer that was on the outlying farm and was disposed of the next day. All the other heifers’ calves were clear. They do not allow a retest and you must wait 21 days to blood test every animal in the place. That all happen very promptly.

Then the trouble started. Some of the bloods went missing in the lab even though they were all sent together and took two weeks to let us know. We retested the missing bloods only for the lab to find seven of the eight missing samples.

These new samples were due to take a few days in a different lab, but with Bank Holidays etc, we had to start making noise to get clear. This second Lab then had a mix up with the samples and had to rerun three samples again delaying the herd clearance further. They only run testing on one day a week for BVD we are led to believe.

Thomas during his college time worked in a lab in Naas and did have experience of doing bloods for BVD so he knew it is only a 24 hour test. At this stage the calf sheds were full, the milk replacer was getting more expensive, the weather was bad and the straw was running out. We finally got the all clear on the evening of May 17. A big number of calves had gone over 42 days, so there is an additional cost of TB testing to sell these. The physical hardship of feeding extra older calves, when you are normally selling them under 21 days takes its toll on other farm jobs for example the first cut pit silage is not done yet.


The work never ceases on a farm. The CAP Schemes of BISS, CRISS Eco and ANC schemes are being sorted again for another year but we had to get help with filling it in.

The robots automatically records heats so no need for the tail painting and the standing and observing of other years. The first serves are being done and we have to synchronize heifers this year as they are on the out farm, then the angus bull will be let out with them.

Grass is getting ahead of us and we will take out paddocks for silage as soon as possible. The red clover in Corfad is baled and over to the sheds.


The Show Centre is very busy. We had Organics training, tractor training for ladies, Emerald Expo at end of April, Yoga, Irish Dancing, bricks club, art and sewing classes, summer camps, Men's Shed, Failte Isteach, and upcoming in June we have the Lavey Festival with brilliant music and a chance to dance to many bands.

We have the Irish under 18 basketball international challenge game with Ukraine in July. August will see our Show Day on 21st with a new person at the helm. Mary Gaynor from Mullagh takes over the President Role from Owen Brodie, so a Lady President for the 81st Show. The very best of luck to all events.