Northern Irish exporters moving cattle to the Republic of Ireland for breeding and production must now meet new requirements related to Bovine Viral Diarrhoea, according to the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).

The move comes after the European Commission approved the Irish BVD Eradication Programme, with the Republic expected to achieve formal BVD Free Status in 2023. Once that status is confirmed, it is unlikely they will accept BVD vaccinated animals into the country.

Meanwhile the level of BVD in animals across Northern Ireland has fallen over 50% since the introduction of the compulsory eradication scheme in 2016.

The BVD requirements of the Export Health Certificate have to be met to export to EU Member States which either have an EU approved BVD Eradication Programme or have achieved BVD Free Status.

Cattle moving to the Republic of Ireland for breeding and production must meet BVD requirements which depend on the pregnancy status of the animal.

This may include additional testing beyond the statutory tissue tag test, and, in some cases, a period of at least 21 days in official quarantine.

The Northern Irish Department for Agriculture said keepers who export cattle to the Republic, or other EU Member States with an approved programme, need to consider the options on the EHCs and take action to secure necessary approvals in advance of exporting.

Read more: Republic of Ireland heading for BVD eradication by 2023

DAERA said: "For example, an exporter who wishes to use the quarantine option will need to apply to DAERA for approval of an Approved Quarantine Establishment (AQE).

"The process for obtaining approval of the AQE will take time and exporters are, therefore, advised to contact the Department immediately."

BVD vaccines offer protection to breeding animals from becoming infected with the BVD virus and for many herds their continued use is recommended.

However, DAERA has highlighted to exporters that although BVD vaccinated animals are still permitted to move to the Republic of Ireland, once BVD Free Status is achieved next year, they will no longer be eligible for export.

"Anyone who may want to export cattle to the ROI for breeding and production needs to be mindful that BVD vaccination is likely to prevent trade in the future.

"Keepers are advised to seek advice from their Private Veterinary Practitioner," DAERA said.

BVD is a highly contagious disease which reduces the productivity and profitability of affected herds, as well as compromising animal welfare.