BVD in beef herds

On many of our farms BVD remains a much greater risk to productivity and animal health than the recent M. bovis outbreak. 

BVD can appear and in many shapes and forms, or it can remain hidden and linger away until we suddenly see its effects spike in a single season.

Common effects of BVD include:

  • High dry rate at scanning.
  • Spread out in-calf rate, needing to leave the bull in for longer periods of time, i.e. 12 weeks with heifers in order to get a good in-calf rate.
  • Late calvers.
  • Slips or losses between scanning and calving.
  • Dead calves at calving.
  • Ill -thrift and calves wasting away between six months and two years.

BVD can easily spread from farm to farm via infected cattle entering the property or animals touching noses over the fence.  A really common way to bring in BVD is via purchasing calves to rear on to replace those lost during the calving season.

Given that it is almost everywhere how do you protect your farm?

Know your status.

The easiest way to do this is to test nine to 15 young animals (R1-R2) to measure the amount of antibody present.  Heifers prior to their first mating are ideal.  This gives an indication as to the level of exposure in your herd.

If nothing else this should be measured every year.

Make a plan to manage your herd and minimise the effects of BVD.

This may involve, the identification and removal of PIs, a vaccination programme, or continuing as you are.

Know the status of the animals that are entering your property.

All animals entering your property should be BVD negative.  Either buy from a farmer who knows his status or blood test animals prior to arrival.

If you have any unanswered questions about BVD control or need help with action plans you can have a chat with your veterinarian.

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