Note: This story appeared in the May issue of Drovers and is the first part of a five part series.
One of the beef industry’s biggest quandaries has been ridding cattle herds of bovine viral diarrhea (BVD). The virus was first discovered in 1946 and has been found on every continent except Antarctica. Like many infections, different strains of BVD have mutated and evolved across the world.
BVD causes decreased reproduction, lower feed efficiency, higher mortality and morbidity rates. Exposure to persistently infected (PI) cattle is costly. A feedlot study from 2009 reveals contact with a PI-calf results in losses of $41.84 to $93.52 per animal.
Because of BVD’s global and fiscal impact, a forum was hosted by the National Institute for Animal Agriculture and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association to address issues and seek solutions for the disease. Cattle producers, veterinarians, university researchers, government officials and industry professionals all took part in the conversation.
“We want to continue to educate the industry about BVD virus,” says Dan Grooms, DVM, professor at Michigan State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.
To control BVD, Grooms says there are three important steps in the prevention chain:
- Implementing biosecurity by reducing the risk of the virus entering a herd through contact with PI-cattle
- Identifying and eliminating PI-cattle from herds to stop disease transmission
- Improving herd immunity through vaccine immunization
Grooms says none of these approaches will work simply on their own, but when used together they will go a long way toward protecting the beef supply chain. The ultimate goal is to eliminate BVD losses all together.