Testing of cattle for BVD, Bovine Viral Diarrhoea, is now on offer to randomly selected Northern Ireland dairy and suckler herd owners during routine Brucellosis testing.
When bleeding stock for Brucellosis test samples, DARD staff will invite randomly selected farmers to take part in research into the incidence of BVD. Each herd keeper taking up this offer will be asked to sign a consent form to have free BVD testing carried out on blood samples from 10 animals aged nine to 18 months and complete a 10 mins telephone survey conducted by AFBI.
Results will be supplied in confidence to the farmer and their vet with a regional summary of results published when the research project is completed.
This project, co-funded by AgriSearch and the DARD Research Challenge Fund, has the backing of key agricultural organisations including the Ulster Farmers’ Union, the National Beef Association and NI Agricultural Producers’ Association.
Noting that major campaigns to reduce and eradicate BVD are already underway in Scotland and the Irish Republic, the stakeholders in NI view this project as the beginning of a similar local effort to improve herd health, dramatically reduce losses and help maximise margins for suckler and dairy herd owners.
BVD virus causes reproductive problems, including infertility, abortions and birth defects in older cattle, scours and pneumonia in calves plus general weakening of the immune system. Calves infected early in pregnancy are born persistently infected (PI) with the virus and many die of mucosal disease later in life.
Worse still, PI young stock are the most significant source of infection within a herd so control of BVD is based on their detection and removal.
This survey will be carried out using the ’check test’ approach already used within the AFBI cattle health scheme. An absence of antibodies in young stock tested indicates no contact with a persistently infected animal and suggests an absence of current or recent infection in that herd.
Conversely the presence of antibodies in one or more animals indicates that this virus has been circulating in the herd during the lifetime of the animals sampled so the herd is currently or has recently been infected with Bovine Viral Diarrhoea virus.
For further details contact, BVD Prevalence Study, AFBI, Veterinary Sciences Division, Stormont, tel; 90 525749.