BVD survey results reveal need for greater PI awareness

by Dr Hazel Wright, FUW Senior Policy officer

THE results of the fourth national annual BVD survey conducted by Boehringer Ingelheim have now been published. A total of 686 beef farmers and 492 dairy farmers participated in the study. Data from the study showed that BVD testing and surveillance was variable throughout Britain. In Wales, more than 50 per cent of herds have been tested for BVD through the RDP funded

Gwaredu BVD programme.
Gwaredu BVD is a Welsh specific programme and uses free blood testing to look for the disease

and identify those ‘Persistently Infected’ animals which shed the virus. The survey revealed that 19 per cent of respondents to the survey were not aware of the Gwaredu BVD programme. This is disappointing and the FUW continues to promote this scheme at every opportunity.

Of those Welsh producers that had heard of Gwaredu BVD, 6 per cent ‘had not yet engaged’. The FUW is reminding cattle keepers that funding for free testing and PI hunts under the Gwaredu BVD programme ends in 2020.

No programme for free testing exists in England or Scotland. However, the survey revealed that 33 per cent of cattle farmers in England and 44 per cent of Scottish cattle farmers use tag and test to test for BVD.

However, the survey noted that 56 per cent of those using tag and test only tag calves born alive. Failure to tag dead or aborted calves may mean that the full disease picture is missed.

The survey data revealed that 44 per cent of farmers in Wales have identified a PI. However, it

is of significant concern that 42 per cent of those identifying a PI stated that they would not cull the animal.

Data from Northern Ireland showed that 26 individual producers retained a PI animal; but 20 PIs had to be culled before reaching adulthood or had to be treated for other health conditions.

In Scotland, the BVD eradication scheme includes legislation which makes it illegal to knowingly sell or move animals infected with the BVD virus. According to the survey, 82 per cent of Scottish farmers

identifying a PI animal would cull it immediately.

The FUW would remind cattle
keepers that PI animals shed
copious amounts of BVD virus
throughout their life and
keeping a PI animal on farm
provides the means to spread
the disease to other
cattle.

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