"Everything's better now."

10th Dec 2021

We recently spoke to sheep and beef farmer, Mr Jones, about his personal experience of eradicating Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) on his farm in north Wales.

At present, testing your herd for BVD is not a legal requirement, but eradicating BVD is a priority of the Wales Animal Health and Welfare Framework Group, and is funded by the Welsh Government Rural Development programme. Mr Jones hadn’t considered testing until his vet advised, and following a positive youngstock screen he began a PI Hunt.

“It was the vet who suggested doing the tag and test with funding from Gwaredu BVD - so we did the young calves and empty heifers. Nothing came up in the first lot. But the following year one calf came back as a PI so we tested the mother and she was also positive.”

BVD is a viral disease that causes immunosuppression and reproductive failure. The disease can reduce fertility, increase incidences of abortion and cause pneumonia in affected stock, creating drastic, long-lasting personal and financial effects on all affected farms. 

“They had scours, pneumonia, abortions… we didn't know what was going on. We tested the bulls and minerals. We didn’t know much about BVD. We were injecting against BVD but it didn't help the PI.”

In some cases it can be hard to spot symptoms at first, but in Mr Jones’ experience he knew something was wrong.

“The calves were poor - I could see the difference in them - they were not developing at all.”

BVD is maintained and mostly spread by the presence of persistently infected (PI) animals.

They are calves infected by BVD virus during pregnancy and they never get rid of the virus spreading it every day of their lives. They can live for many years dragging the whole herd down. Mr Jones received financial support from Gwaredu BVD to find the PI animals in his herd.

“Everything’s better. Drug and vet bills are much less. We were using lots of Synulox Boluses but now we’ve only used three in two years. We don’t vaccinate against pneumonia now, we don’t need to and our latest scanning results were fantastic with 63 out of 64 in calf.”

Mr Jones now always asks the BVD status before buying. 

“The first case we had here was a brought in heifer with calf. The dairy farm we bought from hasn't had any problems at all. We’ve had other cattle from there and they’re fine. We ask about the BVD status before we buy now - it’s safer knowing what you’re bringing in.”

Financial support of up to £1000 + VAT is available for all herds that screen antibody positive to conduct a PI Hunt. This funding is available until the 31 December 2022.

“We’ve received £400 from the vet, and they’re also sorting out an additional £500. Testing is so easy. Other farmers just don’t talk about it much. Just screen - just do it!”