BVD Free and RAFT

BVD Free

As the industry gets set to launch the BVD Free Strategy on 1 July, RAFT Solutions and Bishopton Veterinary Group can announce the outcomes of their six year strategy to control BVD collaboratively across the region in support of the scheme.

As at June 2016,

  • 100% of the dairy farms in Bishopton Veterinary Group have an active BVD control strategy in place.
  • 46% of the beef farms have an up to date BVD control strategy in place. A further 30% have done some level of BVD control and following recent herd reviews & practice meetings are planning to engage thoroughly this year.
  • Of those with a strategy in place, 96% can be declared BVD Free


Regional BVD Free control:

Bishopton Vets, through their research and training business RAFT Solutions, developed a regional approach to BVD control in 2010 onwards, working collaboratively with the NFU, the Yorkshire Veterinary Society and the then Eblex and DairyCo (now AHDB Beef and Lamb and AHDB Dairy) to develop clusters of regional eradication.


This experience helped identify several key steps; which can also be applied to regional TB control, namely:

  • Have a 4 point plan to:
    • Set herd objectives to control the effects of the disease and to include CHeCS accreditation as required for high health animals, particularly for export.
  • Measure BVD status: is there evidence of active infection of BVD circulating this year? Are there any PIs present?
    • Deliver an Action Plan for the farm: if BVD free, how can we stay free with secure boundaries and purchased stock screening (such as with the White BVD free check tag system and database); if there are PIs present, find and remove them, then stay secure.
    • Monitor control of the disease
  • Establish a group culture so everyone feels they are in it together and helping each other – and not wanting to create a potential problem for each other
  • Approach one geographical area at a time helped to make a coordinated approach discussed between farmers.
  • Develop case studies to discuss: members of the group discussing their individual situation helps people to not only see different presentations of the disease but also to relate to the problem
  • Mention BVD at regular meetings – discuss BVD control in the context of other topics such as TB control or infertility / mastitis / youngstock health so can demonstrate BVD influence on other diseases
  • Set up practical on farm meetings – people enjoy a nosy round their neighbour’s and also makes it easier to discuss practical points such as considering boundaries / which stock go in which field. Practical exercises help to reinforce learning.
  • Balance with one to one meetings – BVD can be a complicated disease for farmers to get their head around so making time for one on one consultancy and bespoke control plans relevant to each herd makes a real difference
  • Also invite farmers to ‘Safe use of veterinary medicines’ workshops – to ensure everyone understands the importance of vaccines administered correctly (timing / dosage / vaccine handling
  • Make sure you discuss all groups of stock – including bulls / youngstock / replacement policy
  • Vaccination calendars. Discuss vaccination protocol, in particular protocol for youngstock in detail. It can be more complicated than you realise for all year round calving herds.


Says Jonathan Statham of Bishopton Vets and RAFT Solutions: “There are a range of cost-effective ways to measure herd BVD status; a bespoke approach that involves vets and farmers working together is the key. CHeCS offers independent guidance on herd health certification ( Breeders should consider all bio-security risks from purchased and neighbouring stock and ensure boundaries are made secure. A herd specific vaccination policy should be constructed with your veterinary surgeon.”

Further notes

Bishopton Vets and RAFT Solutions: the BVD story

  • November 2010: 20 farms (10 beef / 10 dairy) in Nidderdale in a close geographical area invited to engage with a pilot study, funded through RDPE funding from LANTRA / Yorkshire Forward and with support from NFU, Eblex and DairyCo.
  • Winter of 2010/2011: status of each farm was established via bulk milk and youngstock blood surveillance. A herd specific control plan was then put in place for each farm following individual on farm meetings. Group on farm workshops were organised (one beef / one dairy) to discuss the disease and illustrate practically features involved in control such as good boundary management.
  • Regional veterinary meeting held at Wetherby in conjunction with Yorkshire Veterinary Society (YVS) involving Yorkshire practices including in control plans and training;
  • Spring 2011: meeting held for all 20 farms to discuss the findings of the project and create a BVD control ‘club’ structure.
  • Summer 2011: an inclusive regional meeting was held with Professor Joe Brownlie to discuss the findings of the pilot study and encourage continued monitoring within the group as well as motivating further farms to work towards BVD freedom.
  • Autumn 2011: Nidderdale scheme replicated in the Coquet Valley with Alnorthumbria Vet Practice
  • Summer 2012: results published: well over half of the cattle tested were either PI (persistently infected) or had been exposed to the virus.
  • Wider rollout of BVD programme with RDPE support across multiple NE veterinary practice 20 herd clusters with Nidderdale scheme extended to 40 farms
  • National BVD Free tender submitted by the RAFT team with XL vets backing to AHDB holding the tender from RDPE
  • Delivery of BVD Free nationally by RAFT/XL team
  • Spec 27 RDPE updates (alongside Johnes control)
  • 2013-2015: the health status of the initial farms was reviewed as well as extending the study out to a further 20 farms, as part of a wider BVD Free scheme managed by RAFT / XLVets.
  • May 2016 – meetings held in the Nidderdale and York areas to track where the farmers had progressed with regard to BVD Control.
  • Summer 2016: BVD results announced – and the work continues!