Herd movement restrictions may be necessary in Scotland to eradicate the costly cattle disease bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD), NFU Scotland has said.

NFUS believes movement controls may need to be introduced in a geographically phased manner, reflecting disease prevalence.

“It remains a challenge to get the speed of eradication controls right and that may mean that movement restrictions are phased in geographically to recognise the differing levels of disease found within Scotland,” said NFUS livestock committee chairman Rob Livesey.

“Control efforts on BVD already undertaken in the north of Scotland and on many of the islands may mean that they are in a position to move to movement restrictions much sooner than a region such as the South West, where more time may be needed to put BVD herd plans in place.”

Movement controls are considered to be the most contentious area within the Scottish government’s plans to eradicate BVD, and the issue divides opinions among NFUS members.

But NFUS agrees movement restrictions on “non-negative” herds will be necessary at some point if eradication is to be achieved, which is the view held by the majority of its members.

The NFUS has given its backing to the third Scottish government consultation on BVD eradication, which closes on 17 August.

Commenting on the consultation, Mr Livesey said there was a real desire among cattle keepers in Scotland to see progress towards eradicating BVD.

“This consultation gives us the opportunity to legislate to stop movements of animals known to be persistently infected and therefore posing the greatest risk of continuing the spread of the disease,” he said.

“These animals are extremely infectious and this would be a great step forward in terms of disease eradication.”

BVD is one of the most important diseases of cattle in terms of economic cost and welfare, causing abortion, infertility, failure to thrive and often death. Around 40% of herds in Scotland show signs of exposure.