[31 May/Farmers Weekly]

Bovine Viral Diarrhoea researchers are struggling to get farmers on board with The BVD Free Challenge, designed to help understand the disease. This is despite researchers offering a generous prize of $4,000 to those who can prove they are trying to manage it. The disease is estimated to cost farmers $150 million a year on herd health, through ill thrift, diminished production, calf deformities and abortions. The BVD Free Challenge was launched at the start of the year to prompt farmers and vets to take disease control measures to help determine how much more productive herds would be if the disease was eliminated. Different stages of the competition include completing a survey that includes farmers’ and vets’ views on preferred national control measures, submitting a BVD plan for the farm and proving livestock have been tested. So far 126 vets have entered but farmer numbers are expected to be even less. This has been put down to Mycoplasma bovis being a major preoccupation for disease control. In NZ two thirds of beef herds and a third of dairy herds are actively infected with BVD but despite its prevalence, it could theoretically be eliminated by Christmas if the country made a concerted effort.