Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) is one of the biggest disease issues facing the cattle industry today costing UK farmers in the region of £25-£61M. The BVDFree England Scheme was launched on 1 July 2016 with the aim of eliminating BVD from all cattle in England by 2022
Prior to 2000, my suckler cows performed well with 1 calf/cow/year, so I made the decision to expand. In 2000 I bought in 3 in-calf heifers from a local small holding. A short time after, we had an abortion storm and my herd was not doing as well, calves were getting scours and pneumonia which meant increased vet bills and an increase in antibiotic usage. These were problems I had never experienced before. Through testing we found out my herd had BVD.
I eradicated BVD in just 12 months, through closing my herd, testing, vaccinating and improving my on farm biosecurity. Today I have a BVD accredited closed herd of 80 pedigree Simmental cattle with 1 calf/cow/year, little antibiotic use and no respiratory disease or scours.
BVD is an immunosuppressive disease, making cattle more susceptible to other diseases such as scouring and mastitis. The main source of BVD is persistently infected (PI) cattle, they are born PI and stay PI for life, and most die before they reach 1 year old, but a few can look healthy and produce more PI’s.
Farmers are already doing a lot for BVD and making efforts to eradicate BVD from the herd and it is the easiest disease to get on top of. Testing is cheap and simple and the virus can be found through blood or tissue samples. The vet can carry out blood testing and farmers can tissue sample using tag and test.
I would encourage all cattle farmers to join up to the free BVDFree England Scheme where farmers agree to engage in BVD control to eliminate the disease from the herd and report their BVD results onto a national database. The scheme encourages farmers to work with their vet to develop the best approach to BVD control on the farm. You can see how the scheme works in detail here.