News & Advice

BVD – is it really worth eradicating?

Feb 1, 2018 | Beef cattle, Bulls, Dry stock, Dry stock animal health & welfare, Grazing youngstock

BVD (Bovine Viral Diarrhoea) is one of the most common and costly diseases in New Zealand cattle. Many of the losses associated with BVD are not obvious, meaning your cattle may have this disease and you may not be aware of it.

In New Zealand, about 65% of beef herds are infected with BVD, and most beef herds have been infected at some point. It is estimated in infected beef herds it costs $3-9000 per 100 cows annually (
There are two types of infection;

1. Transient infection (TI):

• Temporary infection, any age, usually from contact with PI animals
• High morbidity, low mortality

Clinical signs in growing animals include:
– Reduced daily weight gain (20% growth rate depression for the whole mob)
– Immune suppression leading to increased clinical disease e.g. pneumonia
– Ill thrift
– Mouth ulcers
– Often confused with parasitism or trace mineral deficiency

Clinical signs in Breeding cattle include:
– Transient (3-4 months) infertility or reduced quality in Bulls
– Abortions
– Early embryonic death
– Developmental defects
– Still births

2. Persistent infection (PI):

Infected in-utero through a PI or TI mother, these animals shed the virus throughout their lives, causing transient infections in other animals. They may look completely normal, or be ill thrifty. They can develop mucosal disease; a super infection with another strain, leading to diarrhoea, feet and mouth ulcers, weight loss and death.

Control of BVD

Control of BVD is relatively simple involving testing and culling of PI cattle, biosecurity measures to minimise the likelihood of virus entry, and vaccination.

The first step in BVD control is to determine the BVD status of your farm through appropriate testing, then working with your vet to put in place a long-term management plan for control of the disease. For further information on BVD control, talk to your Vet today.

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