Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD)


What is BVD?

BVD virus is the cause of an important viral disease of cattle that was estimated to cost Irish farmers around €102M each year.

How is it spread?
Calves become persistently infected (PI) when their mother is exposed to the virus during the second to fourth month of pregnancy (or if the mother is PI). PI cattle are the main source of infection within herds and means of spread between herds.

How can it be eradicated?

The key is to identify and remove PI cattle from the national herd. This can be done cost-effectively by testing ear punch samples collected by you as part of the official identity tagging process.

Samples taken from calves must be sent to any one of the several laboratories designated for this purpose. Where BVD virus positive calves are detected, you have the option to confirm them as PI. Further testing will be required in herds with PI calves. Results will be issued by ICBF using SMS (text) messages and letters.

Current Programme

Tissue tag testing remains compulsory for 2019.
Tissue tag-test calves as soon as possible after birth. Where positive or inconclusive results are obtained, these should be removed promptly to obtain the higher level of financial support provided by DAFM and to avoid herd restrictions.
Where veterinary advice is to re-test the calf, this must be done by means of a blood sample (this also applies to testing of dams). DAFM will meet the costs of the visit by the herd’s veterinary practitioner and of testing the calf (and dam if sampled at the same time).


DAFM supports for removal of PI calves are revised to the following rates and periods:


  • €220 for beef breed animals removed with a registered date of death on AIM within 10 days of the initial test, reducing to €30 if removed between 11 and 21 days after the initial test.


  • Dairy heifers and dairy cross calves: €160 if removed within 10 days of the initial test, reducing to €30 if removed between 11 and 21 days after the initial test. ii. €30 for removal of bull calves within 14 days of the initial test.
  • For full terms and conditions see here
Restriction of herds retaining PI calves and notification of neighbours. DAFM will automatically restrict movements into and out of herds that retain PI animals for more than 21 days after the date of the initial test (in the absence of a recorded date of death on AIM).
Ensure PIs are removed in time to allow the death to be recorded before 21 days elapse. Restrictions are automatically lifted following removal of PIs. Neighbouring herds will also be notified, advising them to take appropriate biosecurity measures to minimize the risk of accidental introduction of infection.

Where can I find out more information?

Further information, including details of the currently designated laboratories, will be sent to you with your delivery of tags. Information is also available from your local veterinary practitioner, the farming press and by clicking here
Current results of the BVD Programme are available from the AHI Website here