From July 1, 2024, cattle keepers in Wales will be required to screen their herds for bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD) by testing a small number of cattle annually.

Cattle keepers will have until July 1, 2025, to complete the first annual BVD test on their herd.

The Welsh government also announced that keepers will be required to isolate persistently infected (PI) animals from the rest of the herd for the remainder of their lives.

BVD is a widespread viral disease affecting cattle, which can lead to abortion, infertility, deformed calves and compromised herd health and welfare.

Herds infected with BVD often experience increased cases of calf pneumonia and scours, as well as reduced productivity and other cattle health and welfare issues.

The Welsh government said it has been working with cattle sector representatives to develop legislation to facilitate the next steps towards the eradication of BVD in the country.

It said the measures introduced in July will help stop the spread in of BVD, safeguard animal welfare and maintain a healthy and sustainable cattle industry in Wales.

Cabinet secretary for climate change and rural affairs, Huw Irranca-Davies, said: “I understand and appreciate the serious impact of BVD, not just on standards of animal health and welfare, but also the impact on production and the serious economic costs of this disease to farm businesses. 

“The eradication of BVD in Wales is a long-standing commitment, and I fully support industry and government working together in close partnership to achieve this outcome.”

BVD eradication

Chief veterinary officer (CVO) for Wales, Dr Richard Irvine, said: “The benefits of being BVD-free include increased cattle health, welfare, productivity and fertility.

“Eliminating BVD can reduce costs and the carbon footprint of your herd.

“Maintaining a BVD-free status strengthens the health and welfare of our cattle farms in Wales, and can also help reduce antibiotic usage.”

Irvine said embarking on the next phase of the BVD eradication programme in Wales is a “really important step”.

“I would like to recognise the industry-led approach, backed up by this new BVD legislation.

“We can achieve eradication through the ongoing efforts of all cattle farmers, working closely with their vets, to screen and protect their herds from BVD.”