Scotland well on the way to freedom from key cattle disease

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With about 90 per cent of Scottish cattle breeding herds having now been tested for bovine viral diarrhoea, NFU Scotland yesterday said they believed the country could look forward to ridding itself of the costly disease.

So far, more than 8,200 herds have been tested and, of that number, more than three-quarters have been assessed as free from the wasting disease, leaving 22 per cent of herds having some percentage of infection.

This is a lower level of infection than was originally predicted and it is a level that the union believes will provide a strong base from which Scotland can go about the job of eradicating the disease. To back up the eradication plan, the union yesterday gave support to Scottish Government plans to make it illegal for farmers to knowingly sell any animals known to be persistently infected with BVD.

According to the union, the high level of testing already carried out also brought Scotland a step closer to introducing a requirement to declare the BVD status of the herd or individual animal when cattle were being sold at breeding sales.

Union president Nigel Miller said: “The number of Scottish cattle keepers who have already had their herds tested shows the level of grass roots support.

“These Scottish results now open the door to making progress with our eradication plans. The next milestones include a legal requirement preventing producers from trading animals known to be persistently infected. Stopping the movement of these highly infectious beasts is crucial to halting the spread of disease.

“With the Scot EID database, which carries Scotland’s BVD testing data, going live we also need to work up the traffic light system which will highlight an animal’s BVD status at point of sale. That would allow farmers buying cattle to manage their risk and for herds free of BVD to gain market recognition of the effort they have made to stay clear of the disease.

Miller indicated that a regional approach might be taken to eradication. Control efforts on BVD already undertaken in the north and North-east of Scotland and on many of the islands might mean that they could be in a position to move to movement restrictions more quickly.