A first-of-its-kind tag-and-test initiative to identify bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD) in newborn calves has been launched by XL Vets at Beef Expo.

The Check Tag BVD is the first one in England that is accompanied by a database to help farmers identify the status of calves tested through the scheme.

It works by taking a tissue sample from the animal’s ear at tagging, or alternatively pre-movement.

Samples are then analysed and recorded by the farm’s veterinary practice or through a central laboratory and results are uploaded to the database.

The database will be accessible from any smartphone via an app later this summer.

XL Vets hope the tag’s distinctive white colour will help make the identification of BVD-tested animals easy for buyers.

Speaking to Farmers Weekly at the event, Dan Humphries of XL Vets said: “It’s not enough to provide education [on BVD], we need to provide practical solutions.

“BVD control in cattle has to focus on eradicating PIs [persistently infected animals] kicking around. Everything else you do is pointless [unless you tackle this].

“It is therefore critical we remove those animals from the breeding herd and also ensure they are not sold into other herds.”

Mr Humphries said one farmer, who sells dairy-cross beef heifers, has already reported a £30 premium at market after using the tags.

He believes as awareness of the scheme grows, so too will the value of calves being tested.

The scheme is voluntary and is also available to farmers who are not clients of XL Vets.

Tags are available in a range of sizes and cost £5-6, which includes lab testing.

More on BVD control:

Tackle bovine viral diarrhoea in your herd

Identify, treat and control BVD in your herd

Dairy: Vaccination is key to BVD control

Beef: Tag and test helps disease control