New funding could eradicate fatal cattle disease which costs farming industry £61m a year

BVD which kills cattle could be eradicated in the region. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

BVD which kills cattle could be eradicated in the region. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY - Credit: SIMON FINLAY

Cattle farmers are being urged to find out more about how new funding could help to eradicate a disease which costs the farming industry more than £60m a year.

Tom Hume of Westover Veterinary Centre. Photo: Steve Adams

Tom Hume of Westover Veterinary Centre. Photo: Steve Adams

Defra has secured £5.7m to eliminate Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) in the UK – but to take advantage of the funding, farmers must have been enrolled on to a programme and attended a recognised meeting.

BVD largely affects cows' fertility: the animals suffer early pregnancy loss, later-term abortions and occasionally the birth of a persistently infected animal (PI), which will go on to infect other cows in the future. If left untreated, the disease can lead to infections of pneumonia, and other fatal complications.

Tom Hume is the director of Westover Vets in Hainford, whose staff will be trained to carry out the testing.

'The problem with this disease is that very often farmers don't realise their cattle have it: they just think that their yield is five or 10% lower than what it could be. With Brexit looming that's not something farmers can afford,' he said.

To access the funding the farmer must have a CPH and SBI number, they must be breeding female cows, and they must have been to a recognised BVD meeting and been enrolled on the program by an approved vet.

Mr Hume added: 'I think it's reasonable to say that we could wipe out BVD across the whole region. There's no time limit on when the funding has to spent by, but when it's gone, it's gone. I suspect that there will be farmers continuing to fund the testing afterwards though.

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'Given how much money the industry loses as a result of BVD this money is a fantastic return on investment, and it's really important everyone has the opportunity to get involved.'

Mr Hume said: 'The funding will cover 95% of the process from testing to having a BVD-free herd. We start with one-to-one sessions where vets will take samples to test for the virus. The lab testing will then be funded, and a second meeting will discuss the outcome and any further action which needs to be taken. If PIs are thought to be present, more money is given for testing.'

Westover Vets will be hosting one of the approved sessions, which are compulsory to attend if farmers wish to submit their herds for testing.

The meeting will be held at Easton College on September 13 at 7pm in the Sport Centre, and is open to any farmer in the region.

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