BVD eradication – can it be done?

Many Dairy and Beef producers may ask why it is necessary to test their herd for persistent infection of BVD. After all, they will question, if a Persistently Infected (PI) calf is going to die anyway, won’t things take care of themselves?

Statistics on BVD in the EUSadly, that’s not the whole story. The problem is that the PI calf has a negative impact on all the calves in its age group, as well as all the other calves it will come into contact with.

Let’s refresh our memories on the impact it has on our herds:

  • infertility
  • increased returns to service
  • abortions
  • congenital deformation
  • immunosuppression
  • reduced milk yield
  • viral diarrhoea
  • mucosal disease

When we look at all these clinical signs and take into account that this disease is costing the national herd millions per year, it certainly focuses the mind.

What can be done to stop this continuous financial drain on our farms? For me the obvious answer is an eradication programme. However, as is often the case with such ambitions, that’s easier said than done.

The problem the dairy industry is facing is the lack of a cohesive strategy on such a major health issue.

Swiss BVD success

Other countries within Europe have eradication programmes in place and are making significant progress. An example is Switzerland; here they have reduced PI prevalence in new born calves by 95% in less than three years.

Tag and Test kit for calves

Tag and Test gives us the weapon we need to tackle BVD

How fantastic! Why the success? Because of a cohesive strategy: testing all cattle routinely.

The British dairy industry no longer has an excuse not to invest in the control of BVD as the latest technology of tag and test (tissue sample) is a very simple process, we well as being affordable. This latest innovation in diagnosis allows us to quickly and accurately screen herds in order to remove PI animals.

The result of Tag and Test, allied with its ease of use, should ensure all calves are tested on farm and any which are PI are removed immediately. Any calf which is found positive should have a resulting action of testing the Dam.

Testing for PI animals is a once in a lifetime event; a calf which is positive will always be positive, therefore the calf which is negative will always be negative.

BVD eradication is possible as we have all the tools available. When all farmers collectively support an eradication strategy, this must be backed up with strict herd biosecurity measures, to prevent any re-introduction of the virus, as the herd will soon become susceptible to infection.

If you would like more information on BVD or tissue testing, please get in touch with one of Wynnstay’s Dairy Specialists.

Martin Hope
Dairy Specialist

Dairy calves in a green field in front of a blue sky

Eradicate the virus then keep it away!

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