Farmer organisations and veterinary groups have given their support to an industry initiative to control and eradicate bovine viral diarrhoea from the UK.
BVD is estimated to cost the cattle industry 25-60m a year in reduced growth and poor health arising from pneumonia and diarrhoea, increased infertility and higher rates of foetal death.
Along with Johne’s disease and bovine tuberculosis, BVD is one of the main diseases affecting the UK cattle industry.
According to Joe Brownlie of the Royal Veterinary College – one of the drivers behind the campaign – almost 90% of the UK’s cattle herds have been exposed to BVD.
A scheme run by the Scandinavian cattle industry has eradicated the disease from the region.
“Many other countries in Europe are ahead of the UK on BVD control and we will be placed at a significant disadvantage once they achieve eradication,” said Prof Brownlie.
“The Scandinavian countries are already the preferred source for embryos.”
The scheme will use a combination of vaccines and culling to eradicate the disease.
However, the vaccines are killed, not live, and need to be administered annually to ensure protection.
In the meantime, farmers are being urged to consult their vet about the risks to their business.
Any suspect animals should be tested immediately and infected animals culled from the herd.