Wednesday, 19 September 2018

How do you get your hands on funding to test for BVD?

Eleanor Kane, herd health project Manager at AHDB, writes about the recent funding developments for BVD control in England through the ‘BVD stamp it out’ initiative and explains the benefits to farmers in taking part in the BVDFree England scheme.

There is a national drive to eradicate Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) from the English herd, in response to the negative effects of this disease on fertility and productivity. This year £5.7 million of funding has been made available through the Rural Development Programme (RDP), which is being delivered by SAC consulting, aligning with the BVDFree England scheme.

Scotland, Wales and Ireland are steaming ahead with their BVD control programmes, whereas in England only 8 per cent of breeding herds are engaged in BVD elimination through either BVDFree or a Cattle Health Certification Standards health scheme (CHeCS). This disease undermines the drive to improve the efficiency of our beef and dairy industries, as immunosuppression caused by the virus makes animals increasingly prone to secondary diseases such as pneumonia and mastitis, limiting their health and welfare.

By registering for the ‘BVD stamp it out’ funding, you can opt to join the BVDFree England scheme and upload your results to the national database. One of the benefits of joining BVDFree is being able to work towards a herd status of ‘BVDFree test negative’, once you have completed two consecutive years of testing negative for BVD. The searchable database,, allows you to check the BVD status of animals individually tested for BVD virus, or for herds with a BVDFree or CHeCS status. This data can then be used to promote the health status of your herd, or to check the status of animals you are looking to buy.

The funding is available to all registered cattle keepers in England, but you must attend an initial meeting with your vet. After this, you will receive 2 on-farm vet visits, with £61.80 available for BVD testing. The first visit is to blood sample a minimum of five youngstock to establish if your herd has been exposed to the BVD virus. On the second visit your vet will explain the results and you will work together to determine the next steps needed to eradicate the disease or for your herd to remain free of BVD. For herds with positive results there is £440 available for a PI hunt, that identifies any virus positive animals in the herd. This is a vital step in eliminating BVD, as PI (persistently infected)  animals will continue to spread the virus in your herd for as long as they remain alive. 

With the rest of the UK, Ireland and Europe further along the road to eliminating BVD, the requirement for health status when trading is going to likely increase in the next few years. Therefore as there is only limited funding available and with cattle being brought indoors for the autumn, now is the time to get involved, start testing and working towards your herd BVD status.
You can access this funding through your vet practice. For practices not already involved, email: For more information on BVD testing or to check the status of a herd, visit the website:

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Staffordshire young sheep farmer gets involved with Love Lamb Week

Tom Chapman is one of the National Sheep Association’s Young Ambassadors for 2018. He has a tenancy farm in Eccleshall in Staffordshire and is supporting this year’s Love Lamb Week.

My background is in dairy farming, but my grandad was a beef and lamb farmer which fuelled my interest to start working with sheep.I am very fortunate to be able to run a county council farm in Staffordshire and have set an ambitious five-year target to increase flock numbers from 400 Mules to a closed flock of 800 homebred composites. The National Sheep Association’s Young Ambassador scheme really appealed to me, as I wanted to meet other like-minded sheep farmers who are passionate about farming and enjoy it not just as a job but as a lifestyle.

Love Lamb Week is a promotional week that gives the sheep industry an opportunity to really promote messages about the great work sheep farmers do and the quality meat they produce. This year we’re looking at how to get consumers to break tradition and consume lamb all year round rather than just during special occasions. Lamb is so versatile and it can be so quick and easy to cook for a mid-week meal. I also want to shout about the sustainability of lamb and the fact that our countryside wouldn’t look the same without sheep in the landscape. By buying lamb consumers are helping us to support the countryside and sustain farming.

Inspiring the next generation of sheep farmers is really important to me as I feel I have a responsibility to teach those interested in farming all about it. There’s so many people today with a disconnection to food and how it’s produced. I hope to be able to take on an apprentice one day to give them the opportunities that I’ve been fortunate to have. I also breed and train sheep dogs, which help me no end with the flock. I have about eleven working dogs, and I just couldn’t do it without them! They are part of what makes my job so great.

During the week itself, I have challenged myself to cook a lamb dish every night for my partner, as she is the one who cooks most of the time. I think she’s looking forward to it. I encourage all of those involved in the sheep industry to get involved with the campaign and download the logos and images from AHDB Beef & Lamb website to really show consumers how passionate we are about the lamb we produce.

For more information about the campaign, visit AHDB Beef & lamb and follow the story across social media by using #LoveLambWeek and #LoveLamb.