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Wales legislates to tackle Bovine Viral Diarrhoea

On 1 July, the Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (Wales) Order 2024 will be introduced to facilitate an industry-led approach to eradicating the disease.

Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) is a widespread viral disease affecting cattle, which can lead to abortion, infertility, deformed calves, and compromised herd health and welfare, particularly among young stock. Herds infected with BVD often experience increased cases of calf pneumonia and scours, as well as reduced productivity and other cattle health and welfare issues. BVD is not recognised to be a risk to public health or food safety.

Cattle sector representatives and Welsh Government have been closely working together to develop legislation to facilitate the next steps towards the eradication of BVD in Wales. This compulsory phase of the industry-led BVD eradication programme starts this summer.

Eradicating BVD from Wales will improve standards of animal health and welfare and help Wales achieve its Net Zero targets sooner. Eradicating BVD from a typical Welsh herd of 40 cattle could reduce the carbon footprint by around 70,200kg CO2e annually.

In addition, eradication should bring significant farm-level financial benefits stemming from improved cattle health, welfare, and productivity, including increased milk yield and reproduction rates. 

From 1st July 2024, the industry-led BVD legislation that Welsh Government is introducing will require keepers to:

  • screen their herds for Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) annually by testing a small number of cattle
  • isolate Persistently Infected (PI) animals from the rest of the herd for the remainder of their lives

Cattle keepers will have until 1st July 2025 to complete their annual herd test. 

These measures will support the innovative, industry-led approach to stopping the spread of BVD, safeguarding animal welfare, and maintaining a healthy and sustainable cattle industry in Wales. Cattle industry representatives, with Welsh Government assistance, will set up a Wales BVD governance body involving a comprehensive partnership and farmer support structure to facilitate BVD eradication efforts.

Cabinet Secretary for Climate Change and Rural Affairs, Huw Irranca-Davies, said: 

I understand and appreciate the serious impact of BVD, not just on standards of animal health and welfare, but also the impact on production and the serious economic costs of this disease to farm businesses. 

The eradication of BVD in Wales is a long-standing commitment, and I fully support industry and Government working together in close partnership to achieve this outcome.

Chief Veterinary Officer for Wales, Dr Richard Irvine, said: 

The benefits of being BVD-free include increased cattle health, welfare, productivity and fertility. Eliminating BVD can reduce costs and the carbon footprint of your herd. Maintaining a BVD-free status strengthens the health and welfare of our cattle farms in Wales, and can also help reduce antibiotic usage.

Embarking on this next phase of the BVD eradication programme in Wales is a really important step. I would like to recognise the industry-led approach, backed up by this new BVD legislation. We can achieve eradication through the ongoing efforts of all cattle farmers, working closely with their vets, to screen and protect their herds from BVD.

Supporting comments 

John Griffiths, Head of Agricultural Research & Development and former manager of the Gwaredu BVD scheme, said: 

It’s very important for us to work to eradicate BVD from our herds in Welsh, and this is one disease which is possible to eradicate. Many other countries are working to get rid of the disease and Welsh will now join Ireland, Scotland, and England to get rid of the disease.

Dr Neil Paton, from Royal Veterinary College, said: 

The BVD virus causes a huge impact on the welfare of cattle and getting rid of the virus will mean a much healthier cattle population and a much more productive one too”.

 

Channel website: http://gov.wales

Original article link: https://www.gov.wales/wales-legislates-tackle-bovine-viral-diarrhoea

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