Chris Gregory BVSc MRCVS, Molecare Veterinary Services
BVD (Bovine Viral Diarrhoea Virus) can be an insidious disease in a herd; its “Trojan Horse” strategy often catching farm biosecurity on the hop. The virus is mostly associated with poor reproductive performance and immune system suppression resulting in secondary illness (e.g. pneumonia & scour). Ultimately production efficiency is compromised, with industry experts projecting the national cost at as much as £61 million/year.
The disease process is well understood, and with effective testing it can be eliminated from the herd relatively easily. However, the real trick to eradicating BVD hangs on the subsequent biosecurity measures, surveillance and/or vaccination schemes deployed to keep the disease from re-entering the herd.
DEFRA recently announced the “BVD – Stamp it OUT” campaign to promote awareness of the virus (Bovine Viral Diarrhoea Virus) and how to control, reduce or eliminate it from farms that ultimately sign up. A substantial budget (£5.7 million) has been allocated with the aim of signing up 50% (or more) of the breeding herd in England over the next two and a half years.
The programme is designed to be delivered by your vet, structured as follows:
- Introductory group meeting; providing background on the disease both nationally and at farm level. What the scheme is trying to achieve and how.
- 1st farm visit; assess the BVD risk on-farm, blood sample youngstock (covered by the funding) to demonstrate if BVD is present or has been in circulation recently.
- 2nd farm visit; follow-up to report the findings from the blood samples and whether further sampling is required to identify BVD PI’s (Persistently Infected animals) for which there may be additional funding available on a case by case basis.
- Final group meeting; to summarise the outcomes of the programme.
Awareness of the disease is certainly widespread in the industry, with many farms already undertaking surveillance/prevention/elimination measures. Regardless, we would encourage all farmers to engage with the project, even if it’s just for the knowledge transfer or sharing individual experiences of managing the disease with others.