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Wales legislates to tackle Bovine Viral Diarrhoea

17 Jun 2024 3 minute read
Photo Hywel Morgan

Legislation will be introduced in Wales next month to help tackle Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD).

BVD is a widespread viral disease affecting cattle, which can lead to abortion, infertility, deformed calves, and compromised herd health and welfare, particularly among young stock.

Herds infected with BVD often experience increased cases of calf pneumonia and scours, as well as reduced productivity and other cattle health and welfare issues.

BVD is not recognised to be a risk to public health or food safety.

Cattle sector representatives and the Welsh Government have been closely working together to develop legislation to facilitate the next steps towards the eradication of BVD in Wales.

This compulsory phase of the industry-led BVD eradication programme starts this summer.

The Welsh Government says eradicating the disease will help Wales achieve its Net Zero targets sooner.

Eradicating BVD from a typical Welsh herd of 40 cattle could reduce the carbon footprint by around 70,200kg CO2e annually.

Eradication should also bring significant farm-level financial benefits stemming from improved cattle health, welfare, and productivity, including increased milk yield and reproduction rates.

Testing

From 1st July 2024, the Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (Wales) Order 2024 will require keepers to:

  • Screen their herds for Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) annually by testing a small number of cattle.
  • Isolate Persistently Infected (PI) animals from the rest of the herd for the remainder of their lives.
  • Cattle keepers will have until 1st July 2025 to complete their annual herd test.

Cattle industry representatives, with Welsh Government assistance, will set up a Wales BVD governance body involving a comprehensive partnership and farmer support structure to facilitate eradication efforts.

Impact

Cabinet Secretary for Climate Change and Rural Affairs, Huw Irranca-Davies, said: “I understand and appreciate the serious impact of BVD, not just on standards of animal health and welfare, but also the impact on production and the serious economic costs of this disease to farm businesses.

“The eradication of BVD in Wales is a long-standing commitment, and I fully support industry and Government working together in close partnership to achieve this outcome.”

Chief Veterinary Officer for Wales, Dr Richard Irvine, said: “The benefits of being BVD-free include increased cattle health, welfare, productivity and fertility. Eliminating BVD can reduce costs and the carbon footprint of your herd. Maintaining a BVD-free status strengthens the health and welfare of our cattle farms in Wales, and can also help reduce antibiotic usage.

“Embarking on this next phase of the BVD eradication programme in Wales is a really important step. I would like to recognise the industry-led approach, backed up by this new BVD legislation. We can achieve eradication through the ongoing efforts of all cattle farmers, working closely with their vets, to screen and protect their herds from BVD.”

There are approximately 11,000 cattle herds in Wales.

During the Gwaredu BVD voluntary programme between July 2017 and December 2022, 9,163 of these herds were screened for BVD and 2,539 (28%) of these herds tested positive for the virus.

Dr Neil Paton, from Royal Veterinary College, said: “The BVD virus causes a huge impact on the welfare of cattle and getting rid of the virus will mean a much healthier cattle population and a much more productive one too.”


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Mark
Mark
29 days ago

Not exactly what I had in mind when I wanted the politicians to stop all the bull s××t !!

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
29 days ago
Reply to  Mark

There is a muck spreader in Merthyr today full of the stuff…

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