Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD)

Research indicates that 90% of dairy herds have been exposed to infection with the virus. The main problem occurs when pregnant cattle with no immunity become infected. This can result in high numbers of empty cows at pregnancy testing, infertility due to failure to conceive, death of the embryo resulting in long returns to service or abortion of fresh or mummified foetuses is a result of a cow becoming infected with the BVD virus between 20 and 180 days of gestation. Infection occurring after 180 days gestation often leads to the birth of a normal, healthy calf. The virus can also cause the birth of abnormal calves e.g. premature, stillborn, death of newborn calves and weak, uncoordinated calves. Abnormalities e.g. eye and skeletal defects can also occur.

The question then arises, what can you do about it? First of all we need to find out whether BVD is the cause of the problem and then depending on the extent of the problem, you may chose to vaccinate. You may think that this is an expensive and time consuming exercise but it has been worked out however, that only a 1.8% improvement in empty rates is required to cover the cost of vaccination without taking into account the other aspects of the disease. Vaccination strategies will vary from farm to farm so it is advisable to discuss your case with your vet but in general the aim is to give 2 doses 4 weeks apart at least 1 month before mating in order to prevent early losses.

It is important that any animals you suspect of being infected should be blood tested and culled if positive. These animals should be kept well away from in-calf animals or those about to go out with the bull. Brought-in animals and bulls should be blood tested negative before introduction to the rest of your herd. A new bulk milk test is now available for testing your herd for BVD virus. The new bulk milk test can determine the level of infection in a herd and the percent of the herd that is at risk. . The best time to test is prior to the start of mating once all the cows have calved. The sample is taken from your bulk milk by the dairy company. If you think this test may be applicable for you or you are interested to find out more please talk to your vet
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