BVD – Common, costly and controllable.

BVD (Bovine Viral Diarrhoea) is one of the most common and costly diseases in New Zealand cattle.

The problem with BVD is that many of the losses it causes are not obvious; your cattle may have this disease and you may not be aware of it. In NZ about 15%-20% of dairy herds and 65% of beef herds are infected with BVD, and most beef and dairy herds will be infected at some point in time. The infection causes scouring and ill thrift in young stock, infertility, increased somatic cell counts and production losses in adult cattle.

When breeding cows are infected you probably won’t see any obvious ill-health effects in that breeding cow.  However the effects on fertility and on the unborn calf are profound, including low in-calf rates, abortion, stillbirths, birth of “dummy calves” and the birth of persistently infected (PI) carriers of BVD virus.

The economic impact in dairy herds has been estimated at between $35 and $87 per cow per year in an infected herd. In beef herds economic losses are associated with ill thrift in young stock and on average, a 5% increase in empty cows.

Control of BVD is relatively simple, involving testing and culling of PI cattle, biosecurity measures to keep the virus out, and vaccination. Advances in laboratory diagnosis mean that it is now simpler and more cost effective to diagnose and eradicate BVD from a herd than ever before. Tests can be done on individual animals and on bulk milk samples. Biosecurity measures include testing of all incoming stock onto the farm.  An important group to test is breeding bulls – we recommend that all breeding bulls are tested for BVD virus before purchase. Vaccination may be recommended by your vet as a simple and cost effective measure for controlling BVD on your farm. Ultravac® BVD has been proven to be highly effective at preventing losses due to BVD, including protecting the foetus and preventing the birth of carrier (PI) cattle .

The first step in BVD control is to determine the BVD status of your farm, through appropriate testing. Then it’s a matter of working together with your vet to put in place a long term management plan for control of the disease.

For further information on BVD control, talk to your vet today.

BVD infections can be disruptive and costly. Finding and controlling PI (Persistently Infected) stock on your farm is an essential start.