A £5.7 million project to address Bovine Viral Diarrhoea in cattle has been extended by six months due to delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The BVD Stamp it Out initiative was launched in 2018 by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to reduce the incidence and impact of the disease in the English breeding herd.
Within six months, the project – which is being delivered by SAC Consulting, part of Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) – had recruited 120 veterinary practices across England to offer the programme to farmers on the ground.
Feedback suggests that 100 per cent of respondents feel in a better position to eradicate the disease at farm level, emphasising the significance of the project.
However, the global pandemic has impacted on the ability of vets to get out and deliver the project on farm and Defra has now extended it beyond the original December 2020 deadline until June next year.
Neil Carter, project manager at SAC Consulting, said: “We built some real momentum through 2019 and early 2020, and with 5,500 farmers enrolled in the project, we are well on the way to engaging the target of 8,000 herds across England.
“This extension gives vet practices the chance to complete the process for those involved and engage another 2,500 farmers into the mix.”
BVD costs UK farmers an estimated £61 million a year in lost performance. The disease is controlled through various mechanisms by farmers in Scotland and the enthusiasm for the Stamp It Out scheme shows English farmers are keen to address the issue.
As well as funded time with their vet, farmers can access £61.80 for preliminary testing work, and up to £440 where there is evidence of persistently infected animals.
A further 2,000 farmers have asked to join the BVDFree England initiative, an industry-led scheme which will take the momentum generated by Stamp It Out and continue with the ambition to eradicate BVD in England.
Lorna Gow, of BVDFree England, said: “BVD is one of the most impactful diseases facing the cattle industries right now. BVD Stamp It Out has been instrumental in increasing the engagement with BVD eradication.
“BVDFree England would encourage any of you who want the chance to know your status and learn more about BVD for free, to get involved with the scheme while it’s still available.”
Christine Middlemiss, UK Chief Veterinary Officer, said: “This scheme is an excellent opportunity to tackle BVD. I encourage farmers and vets who have not already done so, to take advantage of this extension to the project and sign up now to benefit.”
For more information, email: BVD@sac.co.uk