Associations between bovine viral diarrhoea virus (BVDV) seropositivity and performance indicators in beef suckler and dairy herds

MC Gates, RW Humphry, GJ Gunn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Data from 255 Scottish beef suckler herds and 189 Scottish dairy herds surveyed as part of national bovine viral diarrhoea virus (BVDV) prevalence studies from October 2006 to May 2008 were examined retrospectively to determine the relationship between serological status and key performance indicators derived from national cattle movement records. On average, calf mortality rates were 1.35 percentage points higher in seropositive beef herds and 3.05 percentage points higher in seropositive dairy herds than in negative control herds. Seropositive beef herds were also more likely to show increases in calf mortality rates and culling rates between successive years. There were no discernible effects of BVDV on the average age at first calving or calving interval for either herd type. Accompanying questionnaire data revealed that only 27% of beef farmers and 25% of dairy farmers with seropositive herds thought their cattle were affected by BVDV, which suggests that the clinical effects of exposure may be inapparent under field conditions or masked by other causes of reproductive failure and culling. Beef farmers were significantly more likely to perceive a problem when their herd experienced acute changes in calf mortality rates, culling rates, and calving intervals between successive years. However, only 35% of these perceived positive herds were actually seropositive for BVDV. These findings emphasize both the importance of routinely screening herds to determine their true infection status and the potential for using national cattle movement records to identify herds that may be experiencing outbreaks from BVDV or other infectious diseases that impact herd performance. 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)631 - 637
Number of pages7
JournalVeterinary Journal
Issue number3
Early online date20 Sept 2013
Publication statusPrint publication - Dec 2013

Bibliographical note



  • Beef cattle
  • Cattle Tracing System (CTS) database
  • Dairy cattle
  • Farmer behaviour
  • Herd performance


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