In 2005, the National BVD Steering Committee was established in New Zealand with the goal of promoting BVD control in cattle herds through farmer and veterinary education. Their efforts have led to a significant increase in testing and vaccination over the past decade, particularly in breeding bulls. At an industry stakeholder meeting in 2015, it was determined that there was now the technical capacity to achieve national BVD eradication, but still many unanswered questions about how the programme should be designed to best fit New Zealand pastoral farming systems.
Recognizing the importance of controlling BVD to the long-term sustainability of New Zealand cattle production, the Ministry for Primary Industries and AGMARDT joined forces with industry to provide over $840,000 funding for an exciting three-year research programme to explore the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of different national control programmes including voluntary, phased, and mandatory approaches. This work involves:
- collecting field data to better understand how BVD spreads within and between cattle herds as well as its current economic impacts
- building a virtual simulation model of BVD transmission in the New Zealand cattle industries to explore the potential economic benefits of different national control programmes
- developing decision-support tools to help farmers and veterinarians more easily manage BVD in their herds.
These findings will be presented as a business case in July 2019 so that farmers and industry can select the best control strategy for New Zealand. We will then work through July 2020 to build the necessary infrastructure to support whichever strategy is selected.