Dairy cattle© Frederic Sierakowski/Rex Shutterstock

Pressure is mounting on governments in England and Wales to follow the example set by Scotland and more recently Northern Ireland and introduce mandatory legislation to eradicate bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD).

Mandatory BVD virus testing is written into law in Scotland and the Republic of Ireland. Northern Ireland could join them as early as 1 March 2016 if proposed legislation is approved.

See also: NI to introduce mandatory BVD testing for newborn calves

In an online poll, Farmers Weekly readers voted in favour of introducing similar legislation in England and Wales.

Asked whether BVD virus testing in newborn calves should be made mandatory in England and Wales, 86.3% voted “Yes”.

British vets also consider BVD the “number one” disease that “should be tackled by co-ordinated control measures,” according to a recent survey of British Veterinary Association (BVA) and British Cattle Veterinary Association (BCVA) members.

In a joint statement the BVA and BCVA said: “The clear objective is a nationally co-ordinated BVD-eradication plan, underpinned by [cattle health certification standards] principles, to monitor, control and ultimately eradicate this endemic disease and improve efficiency of the cattle sector.”

The statement added that, if carried out, such a plan could form the foundation of a much-needed industry-led body responsible for delivering programmes to control endemic diseases across the UK.

The situation by region

Republic of Ireland

  • Herd keepers are required to test all newborn calves for the BVD virus within the first 20 days of life.
  • It is illegal to sell calves without a negative BVD result.
  • Follow-up tests are required when persistently infected (PI) animals – those born with BVD having come into contact with the virus in the womb – are identified.

Scotland

  • Herd keepers are required to test their herd each year for BVD. Year-round calving herds must be tested every six months.
  • It is illegal to knowingly sell PI animals.
  • Movement restrictions can be placed on farms that do not have negative BVD status.

Wales

  • Efforts to introduce an industry-led BVD strategy are under way in Wales, where a submission has been made to the Rural Development Plan for funding.
  • Acknowledging the application, the Welsh Animal Health and Welfare Framework Group said it considers BVD eradication a “key priority.”
  • It is envisaged that the scheme will consist of a voluntary testing scheme for two years, with a view to considering the option of legislation requiring compulsory testing in year three.

England

  • A strategic industry-led BVD eradication plan for England was approved in January 2015.