Bovine viral diarrhea (BVD) remains one of the costliest of cattle diseases, and a persistently infected (PI) animal can cause devastating losses at any production stage. To address the problem at a national level, NCBA has teamed with Animal Profiling International, launching a BVD surveillance program during the Cattle Industry Convention in Tampa. The program offers BVD testing at a reduced rate of $2.25 per head for NCBA members with no minimum.

A PI calf can occur when a gestating cow is exposed to the BVD virus during the period between 40 to 125 days of gestation. The virus is transferred to the fetus, and if the calf is born alive, it can survive as a PI calf, constantly shedding the virus and infecting other cattle for as long as it lives. Exposure to a PI calf can cause annual losses from $15 to $25 per cow in a cow-calf herd and between $42 and $93 per head in a feedyard.

In addition to the special price of $2.25 per head for testing, participants have access to telephone and e-mail support from a BVD expert at no extra cost, along with  control and surveillance education.

Testing results from participants in the program will be used to create a national surveillance system, but individual results are confidential and will not be shared with NCBA. John Patterson, PhD, who manages the program as NCBA’s executive director of producer education, says NCBA will track information on a state-by-state basis, but individual results will remain between producers and their veterinarian. Ultimately the group plans to use geographic data to identify hotspots to target for additional testing and education. Control begins at the cow-calf operation, where PI calves are created, but surveillance of disease incidence at feedyards can help identify where those calves originate.

Patterson notes that testing can add value to calves marketed for feeding and heifers sold as replacements, as it reduces the buyer’s risk. According to recent data from Superior Livestock Auction, 2012 was the first year calves certified as BVD PI-free earned significant premiums in Superior’s sales. Those premiums averaged $2.42 per hundredweight.

For more information on how to obtain test kits through the program and how to collect and submit samples, visit NCBA’s BVD surveillance website.

For additional BVD resources and detailed information on BVD control and eradication, visit