BVD eradication programme opens with farmers’ meetings

BORDERS cattle farmers are being encouraged to give their views on how the Scottish industry’s planned eradication programme for bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD) moves forward.

The National Farmers’ Union Scotland (NFUS) begins a series of BVD meetings this week and members are being surveyed on the programme’s timetable.

The meetings started in the Lauderdale Hotel in Lauder on Tuesday, and move round Scotland until March.

About 40 per cent of Scottish cattle herds show signs of exposure to BVD, which causes production losses of £37 to £90 per cow in beef and dairy herds respectively.

Scottish livestock stakeholders, including NFU Scotland, have joined the Scottish Government to develop a BVD eradication programme.

The government is expected to introduce legislation on mandatory annual screening for breeding herds, a compulsory element in the BVD eradication scheme, in the next few weeks.

That is likely to require herds to have their first screening before February 1, 2013. A Scottish Government consultation paper for the next stage will be produced in the spring covering a ban on knowingly selling persistently infected (PI) cattle; a requirement for herd status to be declared at sale; and some movement restriction on not-negative herds.

NFU Scotland is surveying members on the timing of the final eradication phase and has had more than 200 responses.

The meetings, which include vets, farmers, scientists and animal health staff, are chaired by NFU Scotland president, Nigel Miller, who farms near Stow. He said: “I encourage every farmer in the areas where the meetings are being held to attend, particularly those worried or uncertain about what the proposals for BVD eradication could mean for their business.”