Gwaredu BVD receive special visit and strong backing at Royal Welsh Show 2019

30th Jul 2019

Gwaredu BVD -an industry-led programme hoping to eradicate BVD in at least 90% of farms across Wales by 2020- this week received a special visit from both the Minister of Energy, Environment and Rural Affairs, and the Chief Veterinary Officer at its exhibition stand at the 2019 Royal Welsh Show.

Minister, Lesley Griffiths and CVO, Christianne Glossop visited Gwaredu BVD on Wednesday morning during a well-attended reception -which included stakeholders, vets and partners- to show their continued support and to discuss the success of the programme so far.

Speaking first, the Minister addressed the success of the Gwaredu BVD programme; who are currently on track to screen 90% of herds by 2020. With a new Prime Minister in place just a day before, she also spoke about Welsh farming after our EU departure, and about possible legislation regarding BVD over the next twelve months; -something Gwaredu BVD have been preparing for since its launch in 2017.

She commented;

“One of the key principals of the Animal Health and Welfare framework is ‘partnership working’, and we fully appreciate the benefit of engagement with stakeholders and joint-working in order to achieve this success.”

“This collaborative approach in working and delivery is an excellent model and that should be applied to all programmes also. The Animal Health and Welfare framework will continue to play a pivotal role in where these diseases are concerned, and we will be looking at other industry partners to look at solutions.”

“I’m aware of the programmes ambition for legislation to be in place following the end of the three-year voluntary phase, to safeguard, maintain and indeed build upon the achievements of the programme, and I know the steering group are in the process of drafting up a proposal – which I look forward to receiving and giving it serious consideration.”

“We’re working with farmers and the wider sector to prepare as much as possible for exiting the EU on the 31st October. I think we all agree this is a period of significant uncertainty, but I think what we can be certain of is that BVD is a problem for Welsh cattle farmers and a risk to our herds and will continue to be so once we leave the EU. It’s not a problem that will wait and as a partially EU-funded programme through the Rural Development programme, we should seize this opportunity whilst available for as many of us as possible to tackle this disease head on. I’m fully committed once we leave the EU to continue to maintain our very high standards of animal health and welfare.

“Of course, there is still some way to go to reach those remaining herds and who are yet to take advantage of the scheme until we can say ‘this disease is eradicated’, so again I would ask all of you here today to continue to support the programme and for us all to continue encouraging other cattle keepers in Wales to participate and know what their BVD-status is.”

CVO Christianne Glossop agreed with the Minister, and spoke strongly about the importance of continued support to the programme, and what we need to do to fully eradicate the disease -not just in Wales, but across the UK;

“It’s so important we learn lessons from each other and share a common ambition. It would be unfair to eradicate BVD from Wales and not have a level playing field across the UK.”

“It’s good we’ve found Persistently Infected [PI] animals -the most we can do now is guarantee we stop the spread so we can continue to drive down this disease… It will demonstrate the high standards we have here in Wales.”

So far, Gwaredu BVD have screened 70% of herds across the country -approximately 7,500 out of 11,000 that are currently in Wales. Out of these 70%, approximately 250 (75%) have been identified as PI animals.

Gwaredu BVD are working with vets closely to encourage BVD-testing when visiting their local farmers. Farms that screen clear for BVD are currently receiving a new initiative from the programme –“status” certificates to recognise achievement for keeping on top of the disease. Farmers will receive Gold status for 3 years of clear screening, Silver for 2 years, and Bronze for 1 year.

The simple test can be done by a vet during the annual TB-test. It requires blood samples from calves between 9-18 months old and will take no more than a few minutes to conduct as part of the TB visit. Results will be given up to 3 days after the test, and those whose herd screen clear will receive a Gwaredu BVD-free Status certificate to display at their farm.

The Royal Welsh Show has been celebrating its 100th year all week, with thousands of visitors through its gates each day. Gwaredu BVD has been well advertised throughout the event, with visible branding above each cattle barn and a large exhibition area, where the team have been all week to raise awareness on its aims over the next 12 months.

The visit from both the Minister and the CVO demonstrated the strong backing the programme has and its importance within the farming industry. Gwaredu BVD hope that by 2020, 90% of herds will screen clear for BVD -and they are well on their way to hit target.