BVD Screening Calves

Calves grazing

Are you thinking about BVD? Yeah, nah, probably not aye?

With all the distractions of getting the spring cows back in calf, it’s understandable that some of us aren’t thinking too much about the autumn born calves. But, with these animals due (or overdue!) to start their lepto vaccination programme now is an ideal time to screen the group for exposure to BVD.

For those of you already on one of our BVD Herd Guardian packages this should already be discussed as a component of the packages, but even if you aren’t using us for your milk testing needs, screening the calves now is still a very valuable tool.

How does it work?

10-12 blood samples are taken from calves picked at random during the visit for their lepto boosters. These samples are then pooled together at the lab and assessed for antibodies to the BVD virus.

What does it tell us?

  • A low result indicates that these calves haven’t encountered BVD, and so their health and growth rates haven’t been compromised. We have seen cases where growth is 20% slower in BVD affected mobs.
  • A moderate result indicates that there has been some exposure, and that there may have been a virus shedding animal on the property recently.
  • A high result can indicate that there is (or was) a Permanently Infected (PI) animal among the heifer mob.


What’s it going to cost me?

Including the blood samples and lab fees it’s less than $150, the yarding will be slightly longer, but if you use this time to drench them your time cost is negligible.

A better question to ask is always ‘What’s the Value?’ Well, how much is peace of mind worth to you?

A PI heifer if present will decimate these heifers mating performance next winter, and then do the same to the herd the following season. If you can prevent a single empty cow as a result of actions taken from testing then the cost has been recouped many times over.

If you aren’t vaccinating the herd or testing all replacements individually this is the most cost-effective tool we have in our BVD toolbox . If you haven’t done so already, have a chat to your vet today to discuss how you would benefit from screening your calves at lepto time.

Dr Dan Fitzharris – Farm Vet, Franklin Vets Waiuku

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