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AHDB support for national BVD elimination

Published 15 June 15

AHDB is backing a major cattle industry initiative to help eliminate bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD) by extending the existing BVD Free programme in England. 

The extended programme, which is still in the initial planning stages, is being supported with £60,000 of pump-priming funding from AHDB’s Dairy division and AHDB’s Beef and Lamb division. The aim is that BVD Free will be launched in England later this year, and will work closely with similar BVD programmes operating in Scotland and Wales. 

The Royal Veterinary College has estimated the impact of  BVD on the English dairy and beef sectors to be £11.36 million per year – with the impact doubling to over £22 million in a ‘worst case scenario’. AHDB’s BVD Free programme will build on an RDPE- funded two year knowledge transfer programme managed by AHDB Dairy since 2013. 

Gwyn Jones2Gwyn Jones, (pictured) chair of AHDB’s Dairy Division and of the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance (RUMA) commented: “BVD adds significant cost through its ill effects on fertility and health. Eliminating BVD virus will not only improve health, welfare and production efficiency but contribute to our aim of reducing the need to use antimicrobials through better health. 

“I passionately believe that this is a goal that is not only right for the dairy industry but is achievable if everyone works together”. 

Stuart Roberts, Chair of the AHDB Beef and Lamb Division added: “Beef farmers are particularly vulnerable to the effects of BVD which can potentially wipe out one year of the productive life of beef suckler cows either because they do not get in calf or they produce a persistently infected calf which then dies before reaching a marketable weight. 

“BVD elimination will not only improve individual suckler herd outputs in the short term but through less pneumonia and other health effects will yield industry-wide long-term benefits”. 

BVD control is one of the key priorities of the GB Cattle Health and Welfare Group (CHAWG). The 19 industry stakeholder members of CHAWG all recognise that appropriate monitoring, control and ultimately eradication can lead to success as far as BVD is concerned. “We know what to do” ,says Tim Brigstocke, Chairman of CHAWG, “it is a case of having a joined up campaign tapping into the work being done on eradication in Scotland and the Republic of Ireland to make England free of this nasty insidious disease which is costing cattle farmers millions of pounds". 

Over 25 organisations and companies have now signed CHAWG’s BVD Statement of Intent. In Wales the BVD Sub Group of the Animal Health and Welfare Strategy (AHWS) Steering Group has strongly recommended that Wales should eradicate BVD from the country as this is desirable and possible. 

Armstrong , DerekDerek Armstrong (pictured) of AHDB’s Dairy division who will lead for AHDB on BVD elimination welcomed the broad industry support and added “The time is now right for a co-ordinated and concerted effort to eliminate BVD from the UK which will improve the health and welfare of and reduce production costs for future generations of British cattle.”

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