Based on experience from the Michigan Bovine Viral Diarrhea Virus (BVDV) Eradication Project, what benefits would producers see by eradicating BVDV from their herds?
Controlling and eventually eradicating BVDV from a cattle herd can be done with a combination of identifying and eliminating cattle persistently infected with the virus (also known as PIs), implementing biosecurity practices to reduce the risk of introducing the virus into a herd, and implementing a strategic vaccination program.
Benefits that can be expected from eliminating and keeping BVDV out of your herd include improved cattle health and well-being, reduced risk of reproductive losses due to BVDV, improved growth and performance, premiums for marketing BVDV-PI-free cattle, decreased costs of production, and increased economic returns. Cattle producers who participated in the Michigan Upper Peninsula BVDV Eradication Project believe they saw these benefits, especially if BVDV was identified in their herd and then subsequently eliminated.
Even for those herds in which BVDV was not identified, benefits were realized in increased marketing opportunities and improved biosecurity and vaccination protocols leading to better overall herd health. Producers also felt that eliminating an important virus like BVDV was the right thing to do as stewards of the health and well-being of their cattle.
How do you get started with a BVDV control program?
Research has provided us with many great tools for controlling BVDV. Through a combination of a variety of diagnostic test options, biosecurity practices and strategic vaccination programs, BVDV can be eliminated from any cattle herd. In addition, practices can be put in place to reduce the risk of the virus entering the herd once again. It is important to realize that a BVDV control program involves diagnostics, vaccination and biosecurity. Using just vaccination as a BVDV control tool very often leads to failure. Cattle producers are encouraged to work with their herd veterinarians to develop a comprehensive BVDV control program customized to their goals and disease risk.