BVD is one of the most important cattle diseases globally due to its high prevalence and wide range of symptoms that negatively affect productivity. Some of the more obvious effects of BVD are relatively easy to quantify, such as the direct losses associated with abortion, cost of treatment and veterinary care, and loss of livestock. However, it can be difficult to determine the economic outcome of the more insidious effects of BVD such as immunosuppression and poor milk quality in beef suckler herds. It is also important to keep in mind the different costs associated with endemic (long-term presence of BVD in the herd) versus epidemic (acute outbreak in a previously uninfected herd) infections.
A 2017 study by Matt Yarnall and Michael Thrusfield estimates that the economic impact ranges from £0 to £552 per cow per year, but also notes a very severe case of BVD type 2 costing £2370 per cow per year. Nationally, it is estimated that BVD costs around £61m per year. Naturally, these figures are estimates and vary between dairy and beef production, and between individual farms. In beef herds losses are not incurred as a direct result of decreased milk production and but calf losses can be very damaging in suckler beef herds.
There are 3 different types of vaccines for BVD in the UK costing on average from around £3-£6 per head depending on which type you use. For animals registered with BVDFree England, antigen testing (tag and test, and blood samples) cost 25p per sample to upload to the system, meaning that it would cost as little as £5 to have 20 calves’ testing uploaded. According to Yarnall and Thrusfield, the average cost per cow per year is around £46.50. This means that following a BVD plan including regular testing and vaccination is cheaper than the costs associated with BVD circulating in your herd.
By working with BVDFree to protect your herd you are not only helping to eradicate BVD, but you could be saving your farm a lot of money in the long run.