Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) is a disease of cattle that causes reproductive losses and a range of other disease syndromes. The virus is transmitted by contact with infected cattle. When a young animal comes across the virus for the first time it can have serious implications for the health of the animal as the virus can suppress the animal’s immune system.

Animals infected as adults usually recover from the virus and become immune. However, BVD virus can be transmitted across the placenta from cow to calf. Infection during pregnancy may cause a wide range of clinical signs including:

  • Embryonic death and return to oestrus
  • Abortion
  • Mummification of the foetus
  • Birth defects
  • Weak/premature calves
  • Live persistently infected calves

Persistently infected calves excrete large volumes of virus throughout their lifetime and are the main source of infection for other animals. Identifying and removing these animals is key to elimination of BVD virus from a herd. Introduction of only one persistently infected animal to a susceptible herd can cause significant financial losses.

Gazette & Herald:

Once a herd has eliminated infection, vaccination is highly effective and protects the herd going forward. The primary course of these vaccines must be completed prior to service and regular boosters maintain immunity. If all breeding females are properly vaccinated this prevents BVD infection of the foetus and the production of highly infective PI calves.

Is BVD is a problem within your herd?

An initial screen of blood samples from 5-10 animals per management group which are home bred, unvaccinated and aged 9-18 months (“check tests”) will provide a good indication if BVD is circulating within the herd. It is also possible to use bulk milk samples in unvaccinated dairy herds.

Gazette & Herald:

What is BVDFree?

This is an industry-led scheme working to eliminate BVD from cattle in England by 2022. BVDFree is built around a national database with the BVD status of individual animals and herds tested under the scheme. Farmers can register with BVDFree for their herds' BVD test results to be uploaded to the database. This provides farmers with recognition and traceability when buying and selling cattle. By October 2022, eradication and monitoring of BVD will be compulsory for Red Tractor approved herds. For more information visit, phone the practice on 01751 469343 or send us an email to

Gazette & Herald: