Farmers Urged to Screen for BVD

NFU Scotland has urged its members to take advantage of government funding for screening their beef and dairy herds for the serious infectious disease Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD), as the Scottish Government prepares to issue a consultation on how to operate compulsory screening for breeding herds for the virus.

NFU Scotland supports this initiative and believes Scotland could successfully eradicate the virus. Subject to consultation, from September 2011 annual screening tests could become mandatory and from September 2012 all persistently infected (PI) animals may have to be slaughtered or securely isolated.

Farmers should rest assured that the proposal is that beef herds should test five calves per management group on an annual basis while there will be a bulk milk test option for dairy herds.

Financial support and advice on how to tackle BVD is currently available to farmers who wish to screen their herds and farmers wishing to take this up should contact their vet for more information.  NFUS is also preparing guidance for its members online and through the Scottish Farming Leader.

NFUS livestock committee chairman Rob Livesey said:

“In the new year the Scottish Government will publish its consultation on the first tranche of legal instruments concerning complete herd screening, including a proposal to screen all breeding herds annually on a compulsory basis.

“There is consensus is that if we are to eradicate BVD from Scotland’s herds, we shall need some element of compulsory screening, as was suggested in the original consultation on eradicating the virus, however, it is important that we get the detail of this right.

“Funding is available until the end of March 2011 for farmers who wish to screen their breeding herds and I would recommend people to take this offer up.

“Screening as early as possible in the new year should be a priority for all beef and dairy breeding herds to establish your status and have time to act on results prior the next calf crop hitting the ground. You may find that your herd is free from BVD, in which case you can ensure that your system for keeping the virus out of your herd is unfailing. If you do discover BVD in your herd, you will want to take steps to eliminate it.

“NFUS will be providing information to all its members on through a series of Business Guide Updates and articles in the Scottish Farming Leader. You can call NFUS Head Office for more information.”


  • BVD is a serious infectious disease of cattle. Symptoms can include abortion, infertility, diarrhoea, pneumonia, poor condition and failure to thrive. It is often fatal.
  • The Scottish Government estimate BVD eradication would be worth £50 million to £80 million over the next ten years. SAC economists calculate that losses from BVD in a 100 cow beef herd could cost over £45k over 10 years; for a 100-cow dairy this could be double.


Contact Bob Carruth/Sarah Anderson on 0131 472 4006/4108

Date Published:

News Article No.: 176/10

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