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Coordinated Control

Voluntary BVD control programs popping up around the country are focusing on elimination of persistently infected animals.

The Academy of Veterinary Consultants and American Association of Bovine Practitioners have formulated position statements that address a commitment to nationwide bovine viral diarrhea (BVD) control and eradication.

Lofty goals for a national BVD control effort, however, will only be met through a consistent and coordinated strategy, says Jim Kennedy, Colorado State University (CSU) DVM at the Veterinary Diagnostic Lab in Rocky Ford.

“If the industry adopts a consistent approach, the playing field is leveled for all producers and everyone benefits through increased production and disease control,” Kennedy says.

Colorado is the first to address BVD control through a statewide program. Jointly managed by the state and CSU, the program is entering its third year.

“When producers were asked if they'd received any benefit from the program, every one of them said they had,” Kennedy explains. “Some attributed the benefit to increased dollars for their calves and some to decreased illness in the herd.”

Control plan components

The foundation component of any livestock disease control plan should be an accepted biosecurity plan, Kennedy says. Biosecurity addresses herdsmanship, vaccinations, record keeping and planning.

Diagnostic testing is also a necessary component of disease control. Kennedy says no matter which test is selected, all have some limitations and must be coupled with a strong educational base to make efficient and accurate identification of BVD persistently infected (PI) animals.

“For BVD, recent developments will allow us to screen herds with minimal cost,” Kennedy says.

The last component of an effective control program is to reward participants for their efforts.

“Initially the rewards may come in the form of pricing advantage,” Kennedy says. Later, when control has been more fully accepted by the industry, rewards are more likely to be in the form of increased production.

Kennedy says other states in the West and Midwest are considering initiating BVD-control programs similar to Colorado's.

For more information on Colorado's Voluntary BVD Control Program go to or contact Kennedy at 719-254-6382.

And in New York…

The New York State Cattle Health Assurance Program's (NYSCHAP) BVD prevention program is a joint effort between individual farmers, the New York State veterinarian and herd veterinarians. Teams will establish the level of risk for BVD, develop a series of best management practices for disease prevention, and establish a system to monitor the program's success.

Participants will receive a certificate as evidence that animals, milk and meat from a herd have a value-added component in the form of reduced risk for both cattle diseases and foodborne pathogens.

Contact a New York State veterinarian, the NYSCHAP coordinator at 607/255-8202, the Cornell Veterinary Medicine Diagnostic Laboratory at 607/253-3900 or go to

And in Iowa…

Researchers at Iowa State University's College of Veterinary Medicine are trying to determine the prevalence of BVD virus and evaluate a new diagnostic screening approach.

“We don't know how common BVD is in Iowa, but we estimate 5-10% of herds are infected,” says Annette O'Connor, assistant professor of veterinary diagnostic and production animal medicine.

She and her colleagues are assessing the diagnostic approach used in Colorado — pooled polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technology — as a less expensive way to economically screen herds. The researchers are working with local veterinarians and have enrolled about 150 Iowa-based cow-calf herds.

Contact O' Connor at 515-294-5012 or Steve Sorden at 515-294-1128.

And in Montana…

BVD PI cattle are the focus of a new component of the Montana Beef Quality Assurance program. The Montana BVD-PI Elimination Pilot Project provides technical assistance and limited cost-sharing to ranchers identified as high risk for BVD PI.

The project is designed to assess the prevalence of BVD in the state, demonstrate the usefulness of pooled PCR screening and investigate the economics of PI elimination on a herd-by-herd basis.

“We feel beef quality and a sound herd health program go hand in hand,” says John Paterson, Montana State University Extension beef specialist. “We've put together a team of BVD experts, ranchers and veterinarians to help us look at how we can add value to our calf crop by eliminating PI cattle from individual herds.”

The Montana BVD-PI project is modeled after the Colorado BVD control program. Contact the Montana Beef Quality Assurance Program office at 406-994-5562.

The BVD 2006 Conference Presentations and Handouts are available at the following URLs: or

Four simple steps to BVD control

Test all your cattle for BVD persistent infections.

Vaccinate your cattle annually with a modified-live vaccine.

Test all herd additions.

Test each year's calf crop.