The sixth year of the national BVD survey has witnessed the highest response rate to date, with more than 1230 taking part – of these 231 beef farmers from Scotland took part, 55 dairy farmers and, of these, 236 stated that they reared youngstock.

“The response rate shows the level of interest and the momentum behind eradicating BVD. Decreased levels of disease in calves is the most common improvement seen after engaging in BVD-free eradication by Scottish farmers followed by improved fertility and reduced antibiotic use,” said veterinary adviser, Dr Ailsa Milnes, of Boehringer Ingelheim, which carried out the survey.

The main findings in Scotland included:

  • A higher proportion of cattle are being quarantined once brought onto a unit than elsewhere in the country. This is helping to protect stock from BVD being unwittingly brought in.
  • There is a wide range of improvements in herd health reported since engaging with BVD eradication with less disease in calves being number one.
  • The majority are blood testing 5-10 animals in their herds for BVD.
  • There are some farmers still not tagging and testing calves born dead, which could mean they miss picking up that the virus is in the herd and causing stillbirth.
  • 5% of farmers still try to rear PI animals to slaughter, but no-one should do that as these animals can shed virus and infect others.
  • The majority (66%) returning a not-negative (non conclusive positive) retest and achieve BVD negative.
  • The main reason to vaccinate is as an insurance policy BUT of those who don’t vaccinate, the fact that 41% of farmers say they don’t know their neighbour’s status could lead to trouble.

Dr Ailsa Milnes added: “When farmers were asked what do they do if they identify a PI animal, understandably the percentage of Scottish farmers stating that they culled immediately was higher than in England or Wales.

However, surprisingly 13 farms attempted to rear PI animals to slaughter weight – the proportions lower than in England or Wales but higher than in Northern Ireland.

“Every day a PI animal remains on farm it presents a risk to both the home farm and to neighbouring farms. If the virus then infects unvaccinated heifers or cows in early pregnancy there’s the risk of further PIs being born months after infection,” she concluded.