With the launch of the national BVD Free England campaign the NFU have joined with veterinary surgeons in hosting a round of on farm workshops. The North East livestock board were particularly keen to support the initiative and kicked the campaign of workshops off with the support of cattle vet Jonathan Statham of Bishopton Veterinary Group (a member of XL Vets) and RAFT Solutions Ltd. This first event was held at South Ross Farm, Ellerton, York warmly hosted by Andrew Sewell and family and organised by Samantha Davies, North Durham & Northumberland County NFU Advisor.
The session started in the barn perched on straw bales with an update on the BVD situation in Ireland, Scotland and mainland Europe with a number of countries forging ahead with national eradication schemes. Unfortunately England does not have any direct state financial support for BVD free, but the opportunity for state support including legislation is potentially there if the industry gets behind the campaign in sufficient numbers.
A brief overview of BVD the disease followed, with focus on how important it is for dairy or beef, breeding or fattening operations. Specifically the role of the persistently infected (PI) animal in compromising reproductive performance as well as causing widespread immunosuppression leading to severe pneumonia and scour was outlined.
Jonathan described the structured BVD Free approach:
1.Assessing the priorities for the farm and level of disease risk-planning either disease control for commercial livestock food business or CHeCS accredited BVD freedom with a view to export of genetics or bulls to stud?
2.Defining the level of disease-measuring if BVD is absent or present on the farm and how recently? Which tests are available and pros and cons
3.Action plan specific for the farm including biosecurity and purchased stock policy to keep BVD out, but a testing and PI removal plan if BVD is currently circulating in the herd
Practical discussions then moved to the cattle pens and Andrew discussed the farm approach to health and BVD control. The risks of straying stock and purchased stock led to highlighting the role of the bull in spreading BVD as well as the benefits of buying animals that have been screened free of BVD using tag and test systems. The role of the herd health vet working in partnership with farmers was made clear as no test system is perfect and working as a team to manage BVD is vital.
Finally, all attendees were encouraged to engage with BVD Free and register their animals on the newly set-up BVD Free database so nationally we can move forward with genuinely risk based trading in a growing marketplace of BVD free stock throughout the UK. The meeting closed with excellent bacon and sausage sandwiches with tea and a team photo. The campaign is rolling.
For more information on the BVD Free England campaign visit: bvdfree.org.uk