Lessons learnt in cattle infection probe

Alnorthumbria's BVD Monitoring Project Manager and Alnorthumbria Vet Jenny Hull.
Alnorthumbria's BVD Monitoring Project Manager and Alnorthumbria Vet Jenny Hull.

A project to monitor the spread of Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) in cattle has revealed better understanding of disease control, while key lessons have also been learnt.

Alnorthumbria Veterinary Group began the investigation in autumn last year.

The initiative has now finished, after funding came to an end, but Alnorthumbria vet and project manager Jenny Hull insists it has proved invaluable.

A total of 37 farms in the Coquet Valley took part in a collaborative effort.

The project aimed to find out the disease status of the area, map the disease, educate farmers and land owners and compile tailored action plans to go about protecting the farms, both individually and collectively from the disease.

Alnorthumbria collected production data and mapped the disease identifying positive farms.

Results were similar to what has been found across Scotland, with one-third of farms being found positive.

Of these, some were already vaccinating, but not correctly.

Vaccination should be two doses, three weeks apart to start, followed by a booster every 12 months, within 14 months.

Farmers must ensure the vaccines are in date and kept cool. It is also important not to forget to do the bulls.

Jenny said: “We intend to retest farms this autumn.

“The biggest lesson learnt by far is that we need collaboration between farmers in order to tackle the disease.

“We have also learnt just how interlinked farms are, with only two farms out of 37 having safe boundaries. Safe indicates that they were either double fenced or had natural three-metre gaps.

“The major problem with this concerning BVD is nose-to-nose contact across fences. One farm bordered as many as seven other farms with single fences, reiterating the importance of a collaborative eradication effort”.

The established BVD risk factors include brought-on cattle, bulls, break-outs and break-ins, fences and cattle returning from shows.

Jenny added: “It’s important that we get the positive farms clear and keep the valley clear.”