8 Sep 2018
BVD is one of the most important health concerns on Northern Irish farms and is highly prevalent in certain districts of the island. As of March 2016 a national eradication programme has been put in place involving tissue tagging, however even now in many localities farmer education has been poor and therefore knowledge of this particular disease is limited. Portglenone, County Antrim falls into this category and so vaccination uptake and eradication strategies on farm have been minimal over the years.
For this reason it was high on our list of diseases to address for one of our Suckler and beef clients, whose work we took on after opening a new branch surgery in the area. Following months of frustrating fire-brigade veterinary work we discussed that perhaps a look at whole herd health and some diagnostic testing would be useful. Problems on the farm were numerous and included weak calves who were slow to stand and start suckling; scour and pneumonia in young animals, dietary upset in cows, poor cow condition and general queries over fertility. This was a farm where although the farmer was knowledgeable and nutrition was good there seemed to be an underlying immunosuppression issue causing on farm productivity and profitability to be poor.
BVD is known to cause primary disease in the form of early embryonic losses and mucosal disease in persistently infected animals, however it is the secondary diseases which result in the most significant economic losses. These secondary diseases are primarily due to the immunosuppression caused by the virus as it is passed transiently through the herd.