19th Apr 2021

Following a successful reprofiling of the Gwaredu BVD programme, it has today been announced that support for all herd screening will be available to Welsh farmers until 31st December 2022. In what has been a difficult twelve months on the industry, news of the extension will support farmers for longer and help them to prepare for future outcomes where BVD control may become legislative.

Since its launch in 2017, the industry led Gwaredu BVD programme has had great success with over 8,600 of Welsh herds (80%) screened for Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD). Each test carried out has been completely free of charge for the farmer, as part of the programme’s ambitious desire to eradicate the disease from Wales. Farmers with herds that have screened clear are awarded a ‘Certificate of Gwaredu BVD Status’ in either gold, silver or bronze. Figures show that in Wales, there are currently:

  • 1,218 herds achieving gold status (3 or more negative tests)
  • 1,178 herds achieving silver status (2 negative tests)
  • 3,759 herds achieving bronze status (1 negative test)

With the programme extension, farmers will now be eligible for two further herd screenings and those with silver or bronze BVD status will have the opportunity to achieve gold.

From the 8,600 herds now screened, approximately 2,446 (26.1%) have tested positive and the aim is to continue working with these farmers and their vets to identify the persistently infected (PI) animal. For those needing to conduct a PI hunt, the new rules and eligibility of the reprofiling is as follows:

Herd screening

  • The announcement means that all herd screening has been extended from 1st April 2021 to 31st December 2022.
  • The new timescale means that all Welsh farmers will be allowed a maximum of 2 herd screenings through the Gwaredu BVD programme.
  • It is highly recommended that a minimum of 10 months is kept in between each test and that there is at least 10 months passed since the herd’s previous screen.

PI hunting

  • Funding for PI hunts will continue as normal, until 31st December 2022.
  • The total available for funding remains at £1,000 + VAT (£100 vet fee, £900 testing fee)
  • Farmers that have herds which have tested positive and have applied for an initial £500 PI hunt will be eligible to apply for an additional £500 if any further PI hunting is required.
  • All additional funding for PI hunting is designed to be used specifically for sampling costs only.

The voluntary phase of the Gwaredu BVD programme will end on 31st December 2022. Farmers who have not yet screened their herds or need to follow-up on positive test results through PI hunting are urged to work with their vet and take advantage of the financial support available now before it is too late.

John Griffiths, Gwaredu BVD Programme Manager said:

“I am pleased to share news of further reprofiling of the Gwaredu BVD programme, to support both vets and farmers in the fight against BVD eradication in Wales.”

“To say we have already screened over 80% of herds is a fantastic figure, but there is still work to be done and I sincerely hope that news of further support will encourage the need to keep screening and conducting PI hunts if needed. It is hugely important that we can identify positive animals within infected herds and break the link to discourage further spread of the disease.”

“Running a farm already comes with many challenges, and we don’t want BVD to continue being one of them. BVD is a costly disease and is estimated to have significant financial consequences, with an approximate cost of £4,500 per year for the average beef herd and £15,000 for dairy. The financial support available through the Gwaredu BVD programme will not only help protect you against these possible costs, but will ensure the health and wellbeing of both yourself and your herds remain that of a high standard, and the magnificent pride we have in Welsh farming remains strong

“If you haven’t yet screened your herd or need to carry out a PI hunt, I strongly urge you to do so whilst we can support you. We cannot achieve a BVD-free Wales without the continued collaborative efforts made by vets and farmers. My biggest thank you goes to all who have worked with us so far- you are helping us shape the future of our agricultural industry here in Wales.”

“I remain confident that we will be able to reach 100% of herds in Wales by 2022 and look forward to sharing future success.”

The programme objective of supporting an industry led initiative to eradicate BVD from all cattle herds in Wales remains unchanged and financial support for both young stock screening and PI hunting will be available until December 31st, 2022.