The National BVD Survey is supported by Dairy Farmer and commissioned by Boehringer Ingelheim, makers of the innovative BVD vaccine, Bovela. Here, Matt Yarnall, technical manager at the company, runs through a few of the key findings.
A big thank you to all who responded to the National BVD survey which set out to discover your thoughts about BVD, and how we need to control and even eradicate it.
The survey was also sent out to members of the National Beef Association in order to better understand views towards BVD in the beef sector and, in total, we got a massive 919 completed replies.
The survey provides vital information for farmers to review their own approach to BVD control among what else is taking place in the industry. It may raise some questions and you are best talking to your vet for further advice to make sure you are protected against this costly disease.
Of the respondents, most were dairy farmers but a quarter were beef producers and the herds represented showed a mainly all-yearround calving pattern.
Of all of those asked, 61% of herds reported to be closed, but almost one in four (23%) of those ‘closed’ herds brought bulls onto the farm, which can often be a route to BVD breakdown.
Over half of farmers (54%) have had a BVD problem in the past or are currently suffering from BVD, with the most common impact they experienced being poor fertility. See Figure 1.
When it came to the economic impact of the disease, most farmers put a benefit of being BVD free at £40 per cow, which fits with many studies on the impact of this costly disease. See Figure 2.
With the impending roll out of a national BVD eradication scheme for England in July, and plans for a scheme for Wales, 77% of respondents reported they were aware of these schemes. This appears to be welcomed by most farmers, with 95% keen on such a scheme. See Figure 3.
Two-thirds of farmers (68%) recognised the importance of identification of persistently infected animals (PIs), with 58% highlighting vaccination as a key part of BVD eradication. Other key aspects of BVD control were eartagging calves to identify PIs, which was deemed to be more important than free vet visits to manage BVD eradication. See Figure 4.
When it came to the preferred eradication scheme set up, most farmers preferred a scheme involving screening of young calves with a BVD CheckTag, annual blood testing being the second most preferred, as seen in Figure 5.
Of more concern was that well over half of farmers responding had never heard of BVD type 2, however a number were aware there had been recent outbreaks in Europe and that the disease can often be more severe than BVD type 1.
When asked about how to protect against the risk of BVD type 2, the majority of farmers responded by saying not to buy cattle from mainland Europe. Equal proportions said the answer was to only purchase tested and quarantined animals, or vaccinate with a type 2 containing vaccine. Only a small number mistakenly believed all vaccines protect against BVD type 2. See Figure 6.
Finally, it is important to note most farmers see their vet as the most important source of BVD information, followed by farming press.
Some farmers reported to discuss BVD control on every routine visit, with most discussing it only once a year. An increasing drive to eradicate BVD across the whole of the UK means there will be more discussion about this economically damaging disease, so this may result in this figure increasing over the next six months.
This survey provides a great insight into attitudes and approaches to BVD control from a large number of cattle farmers. The results are encouraging for the eradication scheme bodies, but they also provide further areas for vets and farmers to engage on with this costly disease.