Welsh Government consultation on a compulsory Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) eradication scheme

Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) is a viral infection of cattle, which can cause a variety of health issues. BVD in herds is maintained by a small population of animals that become “Persistently Infected” (PI) with the virus. PI animals become infected with the virus in the uterus during early pregnancy. The presence of just one PI animal in a herd can quickly spread the virus and have a significant financial impact. The estimated annual costs of BVD presence to a 100 cow beef farm is £4,500 and for a 130-cow dairy farm, £15,000 a year. The removal of the PI animals is essential to eradicating the disease at farm level.

Gwaredu BVD operates a voluntary BVD screening service for Welsh cattle keepers, funded by the Welsh Government through Rural Payments Wales. They can also assist keepers in identifying PI animals within a herd and provide guidance on achieving BVD freedom. Funding from Rural Payments Wales will no longer be available from 1st January 2023, bringing the voluntary BVD scheme to an end.

The Welsh Government’s intention is to replace the voluntary BVD scheme with a compulsory scheme, underpinned by legislation. This legislation will require all cattle keepers to have their herds annually screened for the virus, beginning with a BVD screening within 12 months of their previous voluntary screening, to be completed by an approved veterinary surgeon.

The aim of the compulsory BVD scheme will be to achieve BVD freedom in Welsh cattle herds. The benefits of eradicating BVD in Wales are:
• the improved general health and welfare of Welsh cattle
• increased efficiency and profitability of Welsh cattle farms
• improved trade prospects for Welsh cattle keepers within the UK and with Third Countries
• cattle keepers will be able to show potential buyers their herd’s and individual animal’s health status and freedom from BVD
• potential for reduced greenhouse gas emissions and carbon footprint, due to more efficient farming
• reduced demand for medicinal treatment for cattle and reduction in antimicrobial resistance (AMR)
• Alignment with other UK countries, which either have established or are developing their own eradication schemes

The consultation closes on 25th August 2022. More information can be found here: https://gov.wales/compulsory-bovine-viral-diarrhoea-eradication-scheme-html