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Modelling the spread of BVDV in a beef cattle herd and its impact on herd productivity

Alix Damman1,2, Anne-France Viet1,2, Sandie Arnoux1,2, Marie-Claude Guerrier-Chatellet3, Etienne Petit3, and Pauline Ezanno1,2

  • INRA, UMR1300 BioEpAR, CS 40706, F-44307 Nantes, France

    Oniris, LUNAM Université, UMR BioEpAR, F-44307 Nantes, France

    FRGDS Bourgogne, F-21000 Dijon, France


Bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV) is a common pathogen of cattle herds that causes economic losses due to reproductive disorders in breeding cattle and increased morbidity and mortality amongst infected calves. Our objective was to evaluate the impact of BVDV spread on the productivity of a beef cow-calf herd using a stochastic model in discrete time that accounted for (1) the difference in transmission rates when animals are housed indoors versus grazing on pasture, (2) the external risk of disease introductions through fenceline contact with neighboring herds and the purchase of infected cattle, and (3) the risk of individual pregnant cattle generating persistently infected (PI) calves based on their stage in gestation. The model predicted the highest losses from BVDV during the first 3 years after disease was introduced into a naive herd. During the endemic phase, the impact of BVDV on the yearly herd productivity was much lower due to herd immunity. However, cumulative losses over 10 years in an endemic situation greatly surpassed the losses that occurred during the acute phase. A sensitivity analysis of key model parameters revealed that herd size, the duration of breeding, grazing, and selling periods, renewal rate of breeding females, and the level of numerical productivity expected by the farmer had a significant influence on the predicted losses. This model provides a valuable framework for evaluating the impact of BVDV and the efficacy of different control strategies in beef cow-calf herds.