Novartis Animal Health has launched ‘Farming Against BVD’, an initiative to help in the fight against bovine viral diarrhoea.

The campaign, in partnership with industry groups, will begin with an independent survey of farmers, the results of which will be announced in April.

An expert panel, headed by Joe Brownlie of the Royal Veterinary College, who is chairman of the BVD scientific and technical working group, will analyse the findings, using them to shape and drive an industry response.

Prof Brownlie said: “BVD is a costly and complex disease, spread by a pestivirus that affects the reproductive and immune systems.

“Persistently infected animals are the main source of infection, but can be hard to identify without testing.

Only total eradication will prevent the disease from spreading.

“Eradication schemes in a number of European countries have already succeeded and Scotland and Ireland have embarked on similar schemes.

“The information being gathered will help the industry to develop a much needed scheme for England and Wales.”

Joining Prof Brownlie on the panel will be Peter Nettleton (Moredun Research Institute), Mansel Raymond (dairy farmer and chairman of the NFU dairy board), Caroline Dawson (Novartis Animal Health veterinary surgeon) and Paddy Gordon (veterinary practitioner).

Survey topics will include levels, and methods, of testing for BVD on farm, understanding of the role of PI animals and the financial impact of BVD on dairy and beef units.

Farmers will also be asked who they look to for advice and how they view the role of vaccination.

Caroline Dawson from Novartis Animal Health said: “Countrywide eradication may not be achieved for a number of years, although individual farmers can control the disease on their own farms within 1-2 years, providing substantial cost benefits.

“The purpose of this campaign is to encourage farmers to take action now against BVD.

“By working closely with their vets, identifying and removing PI animals, BVD can be removed. Ensuring adequate biosecurity and a robust vaccination policy will eliminate the risk of bringing BVD back onto the farm.”

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