“My message to farmers is- test now, don’t wait any longer.”

12th Aug 2022

Stephen James is the Chair of the Animal Health and Welfare Framework Group in Wales and a cattle farmer, with around 370 milking cows.

Stephen spoke to us about his experience of BVD and why he’s urging other farmers to test and deal with the disease as quickly as possible.


“One of the issues we’ve had over the years is TB. In terms of BVD, as far as our farm is concerned, it didn’t crop up initially. We noticed some deficiencies and it was our local vet who suggested that BVD may be an issue, so we started vaccinating and immediately we saw an improvement in cattle health. Now I know that it was BVD playing a big role in that.


Not everybody realises the benefit of getting rid of BVD on a farm. It’s not just financial, the whole herd health can be impacted. The underlying disease for us was BVD. It is a disease that we can get rid of and so we should all be aiming to do that.


After our vet suggested blood samping, our results did show a positive on our farm. We tissue tested all calves born at the time and, despite trying, we didn’t actually find the PI on the farm. But we continued to test every year  and we really did see an improvement in herd health. We currently have a Gwaredu BVD bronze status.


It might not be an easy job to find the PI, but the key message really is that now is the time to test and to PI Hunt if your vet recommends it because there is still time for support and financial help through the Gwaredu BVD programme, but not for much longer. It took us a little while, so if you haven’t started yet or you’ve missed your recent test, I’d really recommend you do it now.


It’s interesting to see how the rest of the UK are performing and how they are dealing with BVD. I think progressing to legislation would be a positive move for us in Wales. It also moves us closer to some of the other nations doing really well to eradicate the disease, there is definitely a collective momentum. The voluntary eradication programme through Gwaredu BVD has been really successful, but it’s still not 100% of farms and until it is 100% of farms testing, we won’t ever be able to be free of BVD."


The Welsh Government consultation is open until 25/08/22. Have your say here: https://gov.wales/compulsory-bovine-viral-diarrhoea-eradication-scheme