The Welsh government has opened a public consultation on plans for a compulsory scheme to tackle Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD).

A voluntary scheme has existed in the country since 2017, with around 80% of the 11,000 cattle herds in Wales taking part.

Unlike the schemes on both sides of the Irish border which rely on tissue tagging of newborn calves, the Welsh opted for screening of herds using blood samples.

These samples are taken from five unvaccinated animals aged between nine to 18 months.

For herds that test positive, there is up to £1,000 available to help identify, by additional testing, any animals persistently infected (PI) with BVD.

The voluntary scheme does not require the removal of PI animals, and they can still be sold on.

A compulsory scheme will change all that, although it will still rely on annual herd screening to identify if any cattle have exposure to the virus.

Where a herd tests positive for BVD antibodies, all animals will then have to be individually tested.

There is than a so-called “PI hunt” where any cattle that are positive will need to be tested again 21 days later to confirm it is a PI and not just transiently infected after coming into contact with the virus. Any PI animals can then only move direct to slaughter.

In these herds that test positive, movement restrictions will apply, and cattle will only be able to be sold to another herd if they have had a negative test in the previous 21 days.

These same restrictions will apply to any herds that don’t comply with the scheme.

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