Borders disease-free scheme launched for breeding rams

A sheep border disease virus (BDV) certification scheme has been launched for breeding rams.

The validation programme, launched by breeding technology supplier Innovis, aims to help commercial sheep breeders improve sheep health and performance, by keeping the disease out of the flock.

All of the Innovis breeding programme’s 2,500 rams available this season have been bled and tested for BDV.

“To test the entire flock for BDV can be hugely expensive, consequently we believe it is far more judicious to prevent introducing the disease in the first place,” Innovis vet Izzy Willison says.

“Until vaccine or a control scheme is available, introducing a borders disease-free certified ram is the first step in the right direction.”

The scheme will also be relevant to mixed livestock farmers who have part of a BVDV herd eradication programme because BDV is closely related to the bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD) virus.

What is BDV?

Innovis vet, Izzy Willison explains:

“BDV is a complex disease, and a less commonly diagnosed cause of abortion and present in flocks throughout the UK. BDV is caused by foetal infection in early pregnancy resulting in foetal death and reabsorption, abortion or still birth, while infected ewes show no symptoms.”

“Lambs born from infected ewes can be small, stunted, hairy and have low viability. Those fetuses infected in the first half of gestation, along with some appearing normal, will be persistently infected (PI) with BDV.

“These PI sheep will excrete the virus particularly from the nose and mouth, continuously for the rest of their lives.”