What is the real cost of a calf persistently infected (PI) with BVDV? That is the question the beef industry has asked itself the past 10 years. Research has shown when as few as one PI calf is left in a herd each year for 10 years, it can cost producers $15 to 20 per cow per year. In a 100-head herd, that’s $2,000 per year, with $20,000 over 10 years.

According to Joe Campbell, DVM, Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica Inc., even with all of the research, discussions and press around eradicating BVDV, percentage-wise there are almost as many PI calves today as there were 10 years ago.

And, he adds, even though more and more producers are using appropriate methods for managing BVDv in their herds, the industry still has a long way to go to eradicate this costly disease.

Campbell stresses the importance of testing all calves for BVDV and culling any that are positive. Especially since many calves born PI don’t show signs of disease. “A dam can test negative, but still have a PI calf,” Campbell cautions. “Testing the calves is critical. If the calf is positive, then the dam should be tested.”

Additional biosecurity protocols to prevent a PI animal from being introduced to the herd include:

      • Testing all purchased animals
      • Quarantining any purchased females that are pregnant, and testing their calves after they are born
      • Testing all bulls

The final management practice that Campbell recommends is to vaccinate the herd with a good modified-live viral vaccine labeled for prevention of PI calves.

“Boehringer Ingelheim even offers a guarantee on its vaccine, Express FP, if used properly,” Campbell says. “If you vaccinate your cowherd 30 days prior to breeding according to label directions, and a BVDV PI calf is found and the dam is not persistently infected with BVDV, BIVI will pay for the diagnostics to retest the calf and reimburse the producer for fair market value of their calf if that calf tests positive for BVDV PI.”