Whilst we are all working towards the eradication of BVD, legislation varies across the UK. Currently, English and Welsh schemes are voluntary and not supported by legislation, whilst schemes in Scotland, Northern Ireland, and the Republic of Ireland are backed by legislation.
BVDFree England is looking towards working with the government to develop an eradication scheme that is legislated. We currently have just under 50% of breeding cattle registered with BVDFree England which is a fantastic start, but we would need the entire breeding herd enrolled in order to eradicate. Lacking legislation also makes it difficult for Scotland and Wales to work towards eradication as well due to the possibility for movement of PIs and positive animals.
In Scotland, the legislation states that alongside compulsory testing, a farm with a PI animal will be listed on the publicly available “PI Locator”, and they will not be able to move any cattle onto the farm until the retesting confirms a negative status or the PI is sent for slaughter. This appears to have been effective in Scotland, with a reduction from 40% to only 10% of breeding herds with not negative status for BVD, there is a separate positive status for herds on which PIs are present.
Similarly in Northern Ireland, their scheme involves compulsory tag and testing. PIs must not be moved off the farm and must be isolated from other animals until culled. The prevalence of BVD in Northern Ireland has decreased by 54% down to 0.3% in July 2020.
Whilst we currently do not have any supporting legislation in England, we are backed by schemes such as Dairy Red Tractor who require dairy farmers to have plans in place to eliminate BVD and recommend that this is done through a national eradication programme such as BVDFree England or a CHeCS accredited scheme. We are also working with the Livestock Information Service in order to provide farmers with the ability to trace an animal’s herd status to support knowledge-based trading. We are working with Animal Health Pathway, Ruminant Health and Welfare Group, and the government to develop the legislation and infrastructure we would need to continue the fight against BVD.