Bovine Viral Diarrhoea ( BVD )

BVD is a viral disease of cattle mainly presenting with a variety of reproductive problems. Current estimates are that it costs the UK between £50m - £75m. These costs are a combination of the reproductive problems (stillbirth, mummification, embryonic death, infertility), ill-thrift in growing cattle, pneumonia and scour in calves as well as increased susceptibility to other conditions. The wide range of clinical signs can mean that BVD does not always present in the same way on each farm it infects.


The most important method of spread is by the creation of Persistently Infected (PI) animals. A calf inside an unvaccinated cow, exposed to BVD virus during the first 4 months of gestation will be infected without mounting an immune response. In this case, the virus grows within the calf unhindered and is shed constantly. This is a great danger to other animals in the herd. These PI animals must be found and removed from the herd urgently.

BVD virus can also be spread by nose-to-nose contact or by semen from infected bulls.


Currently, the risk of unknown BVD virus entering or being present in English herds is high, so we recommend protecting all breeding animals with vaccination. We have a couple of different vaccines which protect naive cows from infection with BVD virus, and protect their unborn calf from becoming a PI. These vaccines are very good. The protection must be in place before the heifer or cow is served to ensure that the unborn calf is protected from conception.

But vaccinating does not give you 100% safety - PI animals will not be affected by vaccination and will always give birth to PI calves. Also, a very high infection pressure from very close contact with one or more PIs can overwhelm the protection from vaccination. It is vital to know whether you have one or more PIs in your herd, because blindly vaccinating if there are PIs present is not maximising the value from your vaccine purchase. This is one of the ways that BVD Stamp It Out can help - contact us to get involved.

We are often asked whether we would stop vaccinating in herds which are tested negative. The answer to this is currently 'No', as the risk of virus entering the herd remains high until such time as BVD is eradicated from England. With a national effort, such as the BVDFree England campaign, especially in conjunction with the RDPE-funded BVD Stamp It Out initiative, we have a serious chance of eradicating BVD from England, just like the Scottish have through their national campaign. If England were to become BVD free, it may well be possible to stop vaccinating in certain herds.





With effect from 1 January 2016, all Sainsbury’s producers must, as a condition of their contracts, adhere to certain BVD control measures.


The measures include blood sampling of youngstock, bulk milk sampling and, crucially, tagging and testing all baby calves.


‘Tagging’ means that specified tags must be used when tagging a baby calf so that a notch from each calf’s ear is sent away for DNA testing. The farmer is informed within one week, whether or not the calf is persistently infected with BVD (PI).


For those farmers who have been unfortunate enough to find PIs in their herd, tagging and testing is the best way to identify and eliminate PI animals and therefore reduce and eventually prevent the passing of infection to pregnant animals.


TAGS can be purchased from a number of places: contact details for a few are shown below:

Caisley tags


Nordic Star






FARMERS' MEETING               CAREW ARMS, CROWCOMBE               WED 28 OCTOBER 7.30PM




We will be discussing the development of this new vaccine and explaining why it is different and why we consider it to be an improvement on previous vaccines. We will also talk about how your control of BVD can be vastly improved by combining improved management strategies with the new vaccine.


You CAN fight this disease – come along . . .  and be encouraged!


Where: CAREW ARMS, Crowcombe TA4 4AD

Wednesday 28 October 2015     7.30pm



Bookings for places (and free hot meal) being taken now:

Phone: 01278 734828



Many thanks to Boehringer for their kind sponsorship of this meeting



BVD Meeting 3 February 2014

We had a good turnout for our meeting on BVD control and eradication on Monday 3 Febraury; thanks to all those who turned out on a pretty miserable night. The take home messages were:


  • You can’t recognise a BVD persistently infected animal by just looking at it. So you can easily buy in either a persistently infected animal or a cow/heifer carrying a persistently infected calf.
  • If you vaccinate, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you are protected from infection causing problems in the herd, especially if your vaccination protocol isn’t water tight.
  • The best way to know your herd’s BVD status is to take bloods from a representative group of youngstock between 9 months old and vaccination age
  • If you successfully eradicate BVD from your herd, this doesn’t mean that vaccination should be stopped because you are still at risk from outside infection.
  • Eradicating BVD on a national level is certainly possible; it has been done successfully in other European countries. This is the direction in which the UK is now heading.


We hope you enjoyed the roast dinner served afterwards by Lethbridge Arms at Bishops Lydeard and thanks to “The National BVD Control Programme” for their sponsorship of this event.

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BVD IS EXPENSIVE - find out why it is costing you money, how other European countries have managed to eradicate it how we plan to do the same here in the UK . . . and learn about the benefits of being BVD-FREE.

Evolution is holding a meeting to discuss all the above points. The meeting is free, is open to all (non-clients welcome) and will be held at:

The Lethbridge Arms, Bishops Lydeard TA4 3BW

Monday 3 February 2013  7.30 pm start.

Complimentary Roast Dinner for all attendees

To reserve your place:

Ring the practice on 01278 734828

Or email:

Your speaker will be Sally Wilson BVMS DBR MRCVS of Evolution Farm Vets


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