THE ability to easily check a calf’s BVD status online has gained momentum with the announcement by XLVets of the launch of a central, fully-accessible web-based database that provides verification of a negative test result for the disease.

The new database is central to the BVD Check Tag initiative that uses branded white ear tags as part of a BVD status testing procedure.

The white tags show an animal has been tested for BVD and provide an easily identifiable and highly visible prompt for calf buyers to check test results online before purchase.

With essential critical mass provided through the backing of the 53-strong UK-wide group of XLVets veterinary practices, the main aims of BVD Check Tag are to improve the identification of source farms and reduce the risks of persistently infected (PI) calves moving from unit to unit, thereby stemming the spread of the disease.

Vet Dan Humphries said: “BVD is primarily spread by PIs, which are calves born from cows that are infected with BVD.

“These PI calves often appear normal but will spread infection to other cattle they come into contact with.

“It’s therefore critical that we remove these animals from the breeding herd and also ensure that they are not sold into other herds.

“By identifying PIs, ideally shortly after birth and certainly before they move from their home unit, we can minimise the spread of BVD and also offer more targeted control programmes in herds that are identified as infected.”

The scheme is entirely voluntary with farmers first having to make the decision to use the tissue sample testing technology to initiate the process.

The white BVD Check Tag tags are available from a number of tag suppliers, with tissue analysis either done by the vet practice or through a central laboratory, depending on the type of tag used. The cost is estimated to be about £5-£6 a tag, which includes the laboratory testing.

Once calves are tagged and the tissue samples analysed, results are recorded by the farm’s veterinary practice on to the new central BVD Check Tag database.

This online database, which in future will be accessible from any smart phone through an app, will then provide verification of all calves testing negative through the scheme.

Mr Humphries said: “The scheme is being piloted on a significant scale through XLVets member practices, but any farmer (not only clients of XLVets practices) will be able to access the database from the outset.”