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Australian Cattle Council : Yearbook 2009
BVDV: A silent, but costly disease Many Australian beef cattle herds remain vulnerable to this insidious disease which, if left unchecked, has the potential to cause huge financial losses for farmers. The latest field studies reveal that the disease, Bovine Viral Diarrhoea Virus (BVDV) also known as Pestivirus, is widespread impacting cattle farmers across Australia. BVDV has been tagged ‘a silent disease’ by industry members because it is not always apparent to veterinarians and cattle producers that the underlying cause of production losses in a herd may be due to infection with BVDV. The impact of BVDV infections on herd production may be dramatic as it can adversely affect cattle reproduction and conception rates, as well as causing abortions, stillbirths, deformed calves, mucosal disease and lowered immunity to other infectious diseases. According to Dr Phil Holmes, a veterinarian and economic advisor to beef cattle farmers, BVDV can unexpectedly hit large naive cattle herds that have not been exposed to BVDV, causing a major “wreck“. When a “wreck” occurs, a farmer’s herd calving rates can drop dramatically - up to 40%. Professor Michael McGowan from the University of Queensland’s School of Veterinary Science has been studying the impact of BVDV on cattle reproduction performance for over twenty years and together with Dr Holmes they have developed an economic model to assess the potential impact of BVDV for Australian cattle farmers. This dynamic economic model shows that for a naïve beef herd of 250 breeders the economic impact of BVDV can last 13 years and cost over $135,000. On average, producers could afford to vaccinate the whole herd every year for 60 years before the cost of all vaccinations equals the cost of a first hit of BVDV. In an endemic herd, the return on investment for vaccination is an average $34/head /year depending on the herd’s level of productivity. The BVDV Technical Advisory Group (TAG), chaired by Professor McGowan, has developed guidelines for veterinarians and farmers to help diagnose and control this disease. The BVDV TAG recommendation for reducing the risk of BVDV is to investigate the herd’s status then implement an appropriate Pestigard® vaccination program combined with optimal herd management practices. For more information on BVDV consult bvdvaustralia.com or contact Pfizer Technical Services on 1800 814 883. 1117_CCA Yearbook 2009.indd 42 5/5/09 8:00:43 PM