Compulsory BVD screening starts in Scotland

Next week marks the beginning of compulsory BVD screening in all Scottish breeding herds – a move set to have implications for farmers both north and south of the border.

Explaining the new screening regulations to farmers at this year’s AgriScot event in Edinburgh, Gordon Struth from the Scottish Government said the economic impact of the disease was significant – up to £18,000 for every dairy business – and said eradication would benefit Scottish farmers by up to £80m over the next 10 years.

“This is a gateway disease to a whole bunch of other problems such as pneumonia. Many other countries have been tackling this disease, so we don’t want to be left behind. This is something we have to do to stay top of our game,” he added.

Mandatory annual screening, which comes into force from 1 December 2011, is stage two of a four stage plan being proposed by the Scottish Government:

• Stage 1: Subsidised screening for the disease in Scottish breeding herds – completed earlier this year

• Stage 2: Mandatory annual screening – commences in December

• Stage 3: Movement controls including a ban on movement of PI (persistently infected) animals, and a requirement for herds to declare their BVD status – December 2012 onwards

• Stage 4: Biosecurity controls with the aim of protecting farming neighbours – the Scottish Government will consult on this in Spring 2012

Stage two, which is immediately relevant to producers, requires all breeding herds in Scotland to screen for BVD on an annual basis. The herds will then be defined as negative for BVD or not negative for BVD.

Accepted testing methods include:

• Quarterly bulk milk tests

• A single bulk milk test including blood tests from all the dry cows and in-calf heifers in the herd

• First lactation milk tests for BVD antibodies

• The testing of all calves when born using the ID tag test, or all at once after the calving has finished for the year

• Youngstock can also be check tested by: testing a group of five youngstock aged nine-18 months for each separately managed unit; testing a group of 10 aged six to nine months old; or testing a sample of five animals aged more than 18 months, which have been on the holding since birth.

Mr Struth said: “Every herd should be able to find some form of testing that’s suitable for them.”

He said non-breeding herds, such as finishers, would also be expected to test for BVD, and any calves born unintentionally on these holdings would require testing within 20 days of birth.

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