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The Scottish BVDV Eradication Scheme: Are we making progress?

Helen Carty 1,*George Caldow 2

  • 1SAC Consulting: Veterinary Services, Ayr, 2SAC Consulting: Veterinary Services, St. Boswells, United Kingdom



Over the past 20 years, BVDV control and eradication programmes have been used throughout Scotland, predominantly in the beef sector. Following extensive consultation, the Scottish Government considered that a national eradication scheme would benefit the cattle industry. The motives for eradicating BVDV included: improving the financial sustainability of cattle production; improving the welfare of cattle; and reducing greenhouse gas emissions per kilogramme of milk and beef produced by increasing the efficiency of production.

Materials and Methods

The Scottish BVDV eradication scheme has taken a phased approach. In phase 1, which ran from September 2010 to April 2011, the Scottish Government subsidised testing in order to encourage farmers to determine their BVDV status. Legislation was put in place for phase 2. This required all breeding herds to screen for BVDV by February 2013 and annually thereafter. Farmers and their veterinary surgeons could choose from one of six different testing methods: the antibody check test (spot test); calf screen for virus; whole herd screen for virus; or one of three options using bulk milk sampling for antibody. Further legislation was put in place for phase 3 in January 2014: the herd status had to be declared at the point of sale; movement restrictions were put on untested herds; and animals persistently infected with BVDV could only be moved directly to slaughter. Phase 4 commenced in June 2015. The number of screening options were reduced by the removal of the bulk milk testing methods. Movement restrictions were put on herds with a “not-negative” status and there are now testing requirements for animals entering herds from untested holdings.


A survey carried out prior to the eradication scheme indicated that 40% of Scottish breeding herds had evidence of exposure to BVDV.  The percentage of beef herds classified as “not-negative” has fallen from 23% in 2012 to 9% in September 2015. The percentage of dairy herds with this status has fallen from 52% to 31% in the same time period. Currently 12% of breeding herds in Scotland are classed as “not-negative”. To date 3,128 animals have been identified as infected with BVDV; of these 514 are still alive on holdings in Scotland. BVDV results from all approved testing laboratories are held in a central database that is used by farmers, markets, veterinary surgeons and government.


The Scottish BVDV eradication scheme has made considerable progress over the past five years. The phased approach has ensured that all sectors of the cattle industry are aware of their increasing responsibilities.
This progress is comparable with Scandinavian countries that have taken a similar approach to eradication. In these countries this began with voluntary schemes and progressed to compulsory testing with eradication typically achieved in ten years.

  • Proceedings of the 29th World Buiatrics Congress, Dublin, Ireland, 3-8 July 2016 - Oral Communication and Poster Abstracts