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BVD-PI Testing Can Mean A Calf Premium Of $10/Head

From Gold Standard Labs

Research shows cattle buyers are paying a premium for calves that test negative for being persistently infected (PI) with bovine viral diarrhea (BVD). According to an analysis of Superior Livestock Auction data for more than 350,000 head marketed, BVD-PI-negative calves commanded an average premium of $2.42/cwt. This increases net profit on a 600-lb. calf by $10.

Netting an additional $10 or more on a 600-lb. calf that is BVD-PI-negative makes it well worth the investment in testing," says Chris McClure, general manager of Gold Standard Labs.

“Veterinarians and producers have long known BVD is the most costly contributor to respiratory disease in cattle, and that BVD-PI cattle – despite being few in number -- are the primary source of this highly contagious disease. Now, the marketplace is recognizing the significant economic benefit of documenting the BVD-PI-negative status of cattle."

Cattle buyers also understand the value that BVD-PI-negative calves bring to their stocker operations and feedyards. Research shows that simply exposing pens of feedlot cattle to a BVD-PI animal makes them 43% more likely to need treatment for bovine respiratory disease (BRD), and results in performance losses averaging -$88.26/head.

These numbers are making both buyers and sellers of calves more interested in having calves BVD-PI tested than ever before.

Using BVD-PI-negative test results to add value

In 2012, lots of cattle sold through Superior Livestock Auction were identified as being BVD-PI-negative through laboratory diagnostic testing. In this data analysis from June through September, 2,868 lots totaling 353,624 cattle were marketed. Of these, the 41 lots identified as BVD-PI-negative cattle brought a $2.42/cwt. premium compared to non-BVD-PI tested cattle. For a 600-lb. calf, this meant a $14.52 advantage. After subtracting the testing costs, producers netted at least $10/head.

"BVD-PI testing is about adding value to the calves you sell,” McClure says. "This real-world data confirms buyers are willing to pay more for documented BVD-PI-negative calves."


Founded in 2005, Gold Standard Labs offers private diagnostic services for bovine veterinarians, and beef and dairy producers, including pregnancy testing and detection of cattle persistently infected with BVD. For more information, visit or call 800-808-3552.