Welsh Government Consultation - Compulsory Bovine Viral Diarrhoea eradication scheme

12 July 2022

Dairy Livestock
Cow looking at the camera

The Welsh Government has released a consultation on introducing a proposed compulsory Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) eradication scheme in Wales.

What is BVD?

BVD is a viral infection of cattle and is widespread across Wales and the UK. It is an “immuno-suppressive” disease, meaning infected animals become more likely to develop other health conditions. It can also cause abortions and infertility. BVD also impacts an animal’s productive capacity and can cause a loss of milk yield and reduced appetite. Welsh Government estimate that the annual costs of BVD presence to a 100-cow beef farm is £4,500 and for a 130-cow dairy farm, £15,000 a year.

How is it spread?

BVD is spread by animals who are “Persistently Infected” (PI) with the virus. A PI animal will become infected in the uterus during the early stages of pregnancy and although it may appear healthy, it will remain infected its whole life and will spread the disease to others in the herd. Animals that are infected by the PI animal through for example nose to nose contact, will not become PIs themselves, but will exhibit symptoms of the disease.

Voluntary screening service

Since 2017 Gwaredu BVD has operated a voluntary BVD screening service for Welsh cattle keepers, funded by the Welsh Government through the RDP. Since its inception more than 80% of Welsh cattle herds have been screened, with 28% of those testing positive for the virus. However, RDP funding will no longer be available from 1 January 2023 marking the end of the voluntary BVD scheme.

The consultation

This consultation signals Welsh Government’s intention to replace the voluntary BVD scheme with a compulsory scheme. The scheme will require all cattle keepers to undergo annual BVD screening and the results will determine the “Herd Status”. Herds with negative BVD status will maintain this status for 12 months and no restrictions will apply to their cattle movements. For herds that test positive for BVD antibodies, indicating disease is or has been present, movements will be restricted and a whole herd test will be required. Depending on the results, additional testing may be required - known as a “PI hunt” - to try and identify which animals are the root cause of infection.

NFU Cymru has been supportive of the voluntary BVD scheme and the union has been a member of the scheme’s steering group.

NFU Cymru Deputy President Abi Reader said “Given the impact BVD has on animal health and performance there is a clear benefit of eradication to industry. We are therefore encouraged by the uptake of the voluntary scheme across Welsh farms. NFU Cymru will be digesting the detail of this consultation and will be using the eight-week consultation period to engage with its members in order to formulate a response.”       

How to respond?

This is an eight-week consultation that closes 25 August 2022.

If you'd like to feed in your views to NFU Cymru please email [email protected]

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This consultation closes on 25 August 2022.

Feed in your views to the Welsh Government or NFU Cymru.