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BVD in Welsh cattle is costing 'millions'.

MORE than a quarter of Welsh beef and dairy herds are infected with bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD), new figures show.

Data gathered through the industry-led Gwaredu BVD scheme suggests the condition is giving rise to extensive productivity losses in the national herd.

In first five months since the scheme was launched, 3,000 herds were tested.

The number of positive results indicate that, in this group alone, up to PS11m is being lost each year. Of these, more than 25% tested positive," said scheme manager John Griffiths.

"That means as many as 750 of the herds tested to date are potentially under-performing as a result of infection.

"Whilst the total number of affected herds is unknown, it is clear that farmers must act now to stop the disease from spreading and to reduce its effects."

Infected animals can suffer poor fertility, reduced milk yields, low liveweight gains, fever, diarrhoea and respiratory problems.

"On farm, this means more calves suffering from conditions such as pneumonia or scours and fewer calves being conceived," said Mr Griffiths.

"This can cost beef herds as much as PS45 per cow per year and as much as PS15,000-a-year for an average 130-cow dairy herd."

Under the Gwaredu BVD scheme, all beef and dairy herds in Wales are entitled to free BVD screening.

Farmers can blood test up to five unvaccinated animals (9-18 months-old) from each management group in the herd for up to three years.

If any are positive for BVD, producers can receive PS500 to work with their vet to find and cull Persistently Infected (PI) animals.

The scheme is being overseen by Dr Sigrid Stoop of Allflex, one of the architects of Belgium's successful BVD eradication scheme.

She said the most costeffective way of identifying PI animals is to use Tissue Sampling Tags (TSTs) as part of the normal tagging process for all newborn and recently purchased animals.

"Testing in this way is a cheap and easy method of identifying any 'dirty' animals," she said.

"It is more reliable than vaccination alone as this can only protect a BVD-free herd and cannot cure animals already infected."

." ? For more details, farmers should speak to their farm vet or contact the Gwaredu BVD team, 01554 748576 or gwaredubvd@colegsirgar.ac.uk.

CAPTION(S):

? BVD screening blood samples are taken from an animal's tail

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Publication:Chester Chronicle (Chester, England)
Date:Mar 15, 2018
Words:388
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