Cattle Owners Who Let BVD Status Slip Urged to Take Action Now

Next phase of BVD eradication scheme comes into play on 1 June

NFU Scotland is reminding around 1,300 farmers, who have let their Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) status slip, to get prepared and prioritise testing as the introduction of the next phase of the scheme draws closer.

There are fears that some farmers across Scotland are ill-prepared and that BVD has fallen down the list of priorities.

BVD testing is already an annual requirement for Scottish cattle keepers and it is illegal to knowingly sell any animal persistently infected (PI) with the disease. From summer 2015, movement restrictions will be placed on farms that do not have a valid ‘negative’ status for the disease.

Phase 4 of BVD eradication scheme in Scotland will be introduced in June this year and will bring restriction for any holdings with a ‘not negative’ status, or holdings that have no valid annual status recorded.  The BVD herd screen is an annual requirement and herds that have not carried out a test in the last 12 months should contact their vet and do so now or face restrictions come June.

Figures show that around 83 per cent of holdings in Scotland currently have a negative BVD status which is very positive news for those holdings. However for the remaining 17 per cent that still have a not-negative status this means they have a limited window available to tackle the problem and achieve negative status before the June deadline when restrictions will apply.

NFU Scotland Vice President, Rob Livesey, who farms beef cattle in the Scottish Borders commented:  “It is unacceptable that some 1,300 farmers have let their BVD status slip. The message is clear: be prepared ahead of calving starting.

“Having animals tested now will save a lot of hassle in the longer term. Cattle keepers must keep their status up to date. Some believe that having had a clear test in the past is enough – but it isn’t. You must screen your herd annually to maintain you status. It’s far easier to get this essential job done now before cattle go to the grass.

“If you do not have a BVD negative status, animals will need to be individually tested in order to be moved, other than direct to slaughter.

“If you delay testing, you may also be restricted in your testing options and be required to sample all calves. If this is the case, you should consider the need to switch to tissue tag testing your calves and making sure that you have appropriate tags ordered.

“As we move to the next phase, it is worth reminding all cattle keepers to work with their vets and keep their testing status up-to-date. Allowing annual checks to slip further than 13 months will also trigger movement restrictions until testing is carried out.

“NFU Scotland urges any herd that does not have a negative status recorded on the BVD database to contact their vet and discuss the options available to avoid phase 4 restrictions.”

Notes to editors

  • The existing rules in Scotland regarding BVD are:
    • All breeding herds must carry out an annual BVD test, using an approved testing method, giving the herd an official BVD status which is recorded on a central database.
    • BVD status should be declared when selling cattle.
    • It is an offence to knowing move a Persistently Infected (PI) animal other than direct to slaughter – A PI animal is one which has had a positive BVD virus test unless a subsequent test shows it to have been transiently infected.
  • New Measures to be introduced in 2015
    • Enhanced testing requirements and restrictions for ‘not negative’ herds.
    • A reduction in the approved testing options to three with only two options available for testing not negative herds.
    • Requirement to test animals moving into the herd from untested herds.
  • BVD testing options for BVD negative herds in Scotland from Summer 2015

Option1: Check test (antibody)

  • For negative herds only
  • Test a minimum of 5 animals per management group within 9- 18 Months (10 animals per group if they must be tested between 6-18 months) using the antibody test.
  • For Dairy Herds this should be done twice annually using 10 animals per management group, identifying the 5 eldest and 5 youngest within the 9-18 month age group to take account of the yearly calving cycle within a dairy herd.

Option 2: Calf screen

  • Virus test all calves born (Can be done using tissue tag tests)

Option 3: All animals

  • Virus test all animals within the herd (Can be done using the tissue tag tests)

Following assessment of the results from the early stages of eradication it has been decided that bulk milk tests are too sensitive to remain within the eradication programme. Bulk milk tests can react with historic infection and vaccination giving potentially misleading results and under the increased restrictions of phase 4 should no longer be used.

  • BVD Testing options for BVD ‘not negative’ herds in Scotland from Summer 2015
    • Testing option 1 is not permitted.  Testing must either be done by a whole herd test or a calf screen.
    • Any breeding herd that does not have a negative status will become restricted. Animals from these herds will only be allowed to move direct to slaughter unless they have been individually tested negative for the BVD virus. Animals identified as being infected with BVD virus will be identified as Persistently Infected (PI) animals and only be allowed to move direct to slaughter unless a subsequent test proves that they were only transiently infected.
  • Requirement to test animals from untested herds from summer 2015
    • If an animal enters a breeding herd from an untested herd, without an official BVD status, the status of the receiving holding will be suspended until the animal has been tested and found to be free from BVD virus. This could include animals entering the herd from a store cattle herd within Scotland (Store herds do not require a BVD status), or it could be an imported animal.
    • Whilst the status of the receiving herd is suspended the herd will face the same restrictions as a ‘not negative’ herd and be unable to move animals off the holding, other than direct to slaughter unless they have been individually tested virus free. This measure has been introduced to prevent herds from becoming unknowingly infected with BVD from animals of unknown status and then spreading the disease further unwittingly.


Contact Ruth McClean on 0131 472 4108

Date Published:

News Article No.: 35/15

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