Crucial Year for Health of Scotland’s Cattle

Producers reminded of new rules to drive BVD eradication

All cattle keepers are being reminded that Scotland’s ambitious plans to eradicate the costly production disease Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) move to the next phase in 2015.

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.

The Union is reminding all producers to ensure that their herd’s BVD status is up-to-date and that testing on an annual basis has been maintained.  For those herds currently designated ‘not negative’, now is the time to work with your veterinary practice towards a negative status if they are to avoid being caught up in restrictions and additional testing requirements next year.

NFU Scotland President, and qualified vet, Nigel Miller said:

“There remains a real desire amongst the vast majority of cattle keepers in Scotland to see us make genuine progress towards eradicating this costly disease from our herds.  The high level of testing carried out and the disease levels found suggest that eradication is well within our grasp.

“More than 87 percent of Scottish herds are already designated BVD negative under the Scottish scheme.  The message for those whose herds are ‘not negative’ is that phase four is designed to close down potential infection in such herds and the new requirements have teeth.

“From June 2015 onwards, the Scottish Government plans to place ‘not negative’ herds under movement restrictions. Unless destined for slaughter, all animals in such herds must be tested individually and be found to be BVD virus negative prior to movement.  With the change in rules, it is likely that tissue tag testing will become routine in ‘not negative’ herds, bringing Scotland in line with the Irish eradication programme.

“Producers with ‘not negative’ herds and who are not already working with their vets on an action plan, should do so now.   Achieving a negative BVD status before the summer will avoid the herd being caught up in the restrictions and additional testing requirements.

“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.

“It must also be borne in mind that it is now a legal requirement that animals known to be persistently infected with the disease are not traded and can only move direct to slaughter.  Stopping the movement of these highly infectious beasts is crucial to halting the spread of disease.

“We are entering the end phase where regulation is inevitably tight to drive forward eradication and avoid the virus regaining any hold. Fast progress will reduce the risk to the 87 percent of herds that are negative for BVD.  Vaccination and biosecurity will remain vital as we work to close this costly disease down for good.”

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 3 with only 2 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 Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006 or Ruth McClean on 0131 472 4108

Date Published:

News Article No.: 199/14

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