There are anxious times ahead for the dairy industry as calving approaches and we watch for any further spread of Mycoplasma bovis.
Biosecurity has been the big talking point as the country takes on the challenge of eradicating the disease over the next 1 to 2 years. The experience with M. bovis has thrown a light on our management practices and we’ve sometimes been found wanting, especially when it comes to tracking animal movements.
Good biosecurity will be a crucial part of the battle, and not only for M. bovis. It’s still business as usual for other cattle diseases in New Zealand and BVD (Bovine Viral Diarrhoea) is one that hasn’t gone away. It costs New Zealand cattle farmers around $150 million a year, but having a good BVD management plan in place more than pays for itself.
A BVD survey conducted by MSD Animal Health on 304 farms (beef and dairy) done in 2015/16 revealed that there’s still work to do on the biosecurity front. It showed that:
- about half of the young stock mobs tested had active BVD infection
- only 2% had completely closed herds
- 14% reported frequent nose-to-nose contact between their stock and animals from other farms
- only 52% used BVD control methods for service bulls used with heifers.
That final point is a real concern.
None of these farms had a BVD management plan in place, and it’s easy to see how better biosecurity combined with other measures could help them reduce the risk.
Knowing whether there’s BVD in your herd is very important, and so is making sure no infected cattle are coming onto your property.
Opportunities to run a closed herd are extremely limited, so good biosecurity and testing are only part of the BVD management toolbox.
Fortunately, vaccination helps further manage the risk and Bovilis BVD has recently had some changes to it’s label claims to increase length of protection and also make timing more convenient.
Once your cows have received a third Bovilis BVD vaccination, they have a full 12 months’ fetal protection against the disease. This is the only registered vaccine to offer that length of protection. It’s very important because the key to BVD control is protecting the fetus and preventing PI (persistently infected) calves being born. It doesn’t matter whethern conception happens on the first, second or third mating; the 12 months well and truly covers the risk period for PI or congenital transiently infected (TI) calves.
If you vaccinate your calves from 4 months of age with a sensitiser and booster of Bovilis BVD, they can have their third vaccination 4 weeks prior to mating and have this extra protection over their first pregnancy. If a cow doesn’t get her first vaccine until breeding age, the full 12 months’ fetal protection will kick in after she gets her booster shot just before her second mating.
The other change to the way this vaccine works is that the gap between the first (sensitiser) and second (booster) shot can now be anywhere between 4 weeks and 6 months. That will give everyone a lot more flexibility and make it easier to fit vaccination in with other routine stock work.
Eradication for BVD too?
Whilst BVD is widespread and prevalent in New Zealand, we may not have to live with it forever. There are now eradication programmes in some European countries where they are making good inroads: fewer infected farms, increased animal production and increased profits.
Massey’s Epicentre is doing some exciting work to see if it’s feasible to eradicate BVD from New Zealand and dairy farmers can get directly involved by signing up to “BVD Free New Zealand”.
As part of the BVD Free New Zealand research project you’ll be invited to:
- share your views about BVD eradication
- do a short online survey about your herd management and risks
- get your herd screened for BVD (there’s funding available to pay for the first 500 who register after 15 July 2018)
- work with your veterinary practice to develop a herd BVD management plan that fits in with your
animal health calendar
- have your say about the best option for BVD eradication in New Zealand once they are sent out in July 2019.
If you’re interested in taking part, contact your veterinary practice.
You can sign up to take part in the project at www.bvdfree.org.nz/get-involved
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