Two options were identified
Option 1 - No change - Remain in Phase 4 of the BVD Eradication
This option would not see further legislation introduced and instead would rely on the current Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (Scotland) Order 2013 (BVD Order) and industry desire to eradicate the disease.
Option 2 - New legislation - Proceed to Phase 5 of the BVD Eradication Scheme
This option would amend the current BVD Order and introduce additional controls that would:
- Increase pressure on "not negative" herds to investigate the cause of BVD exposure in their herd
- Increase pressure on "positive" herds to protect neighbouring holdings/herds
- Prevent delays in testing
- Require tissue sampling to be done via an official (primary/secondary) cattle identification tag
- Speed-up reporting of lab results to the BVD database
- Improve the effectiveness of the check test
- Prevent dispersal of animals immediately prior to a change of herd status
- Track PIs back to herd of origin
Sectors and groups affected
This will mainly affect cattle businesses as it will require those with breeding herds to continue to test and declare the disease status of their herd. Those breeding herds with a "not negative" herd status will face additional testing requirements to investigate the cause of BVD exposure in their herd. There will also be impacts on testing laboratories and veterinary practices through greater demand for their services, and on tag companies due to a change in the type of tags marketed.
Option 1 would see cattle farmers comply with the current phase of the BVD Eradication Scheme. It would continue to require all breeding herds in Scotland to have a BVD disease status, and to restrict animals that could spread disease, thus protecting the national herd.
The eradication of BVD supports the reputation of Scottish produce for high quality and excellent welfare standards.
This option also has environmental benefits as the increased efficiency of a national herd that was free of BVD would reduce the greenhouse gas emissions per unit of output.
Option 2 gives the same benefits as Option 1 but to an increased extent due to elements of the eradication scheme being strengthened. Examples are promoting identification and prompt removal of PI animals, reducing risk of disease spread within and between herds, improving the effectiveness of check testing and faster reporting of test results.
A new testing requirement that would apply to all "not negative" herds on their second or subsequent annual report of a "not negative" BVD status. The cattle keeper would be required to determine an individual status for each animal in that herd, which would accelerate the detection of PI animals in the national herd.
The proposals to prohibit cattle movements into herds that have a virus positive animal in that herd along with a new requirement to house virus positive animals in a separate airspace from other cattle should reduce the number of on-going and new infections in Scotland.
Limiting tissue tag sampling to the primary/secondary tag only would ensure calves are BVD tested early in life, thus allowing early identification and removal of PIs. Cattle would also benefit from better welfare due to fewer tags. Test reporting would be more accurate due to fewer transcription errors.
A new requirement to track PIs back to their herd of birth, placing restrictions on that herd and any additional holdings where the dam was resident during days 18-120 of pregnancy could identify herds that pose a BVD risk that otherwise might be missed under the current BVD Order.
A new movement restriction preventing the dispersal of animals without an individual BVD status prior to the result of a herd's annual status could prevent cattle keepers from inadvertently moving their animals illegally.
Publishing the location details of farms where one or more virus positive animals are retained would increase awareness allowing any neighbouring farms to take appropriate action to reduce the BVD risk to their own herd.
Depending on a herd's BVD status, the type of annual testing selected and other herd management decisions, farmers may only need to test a small number of cattle or all calves born into that holding to comply with current BVD screening requirements.
Farmers with a "not negative" herd status wishing to investigate their herd's status have two testing options available to them, either to individually test all animals in their herd or test all calves born. Animals in a "not negative" herd can only move out of that herd if they have been individually tested and found negative for BVD virus.
Tissue tag testing individual animals costs approximately £3.50 to £5.50 plus the keeper's time to organise and tag animals.
Blood testing individual animals costs approximately £4.50 to £7.00 plus vet call out fees. There can be a small reduction in cost per head when testing multiple animals.
Option 2 would incur the same baseline costs as Option 1. The proposals would also involve some additional costs for the new testing requirement that would apply to all "not negative" herds. On the second or subsequent annual report of a "not negative" BVD status, the cattle keeper would be required to determine an individual animal status for every animal in the herd. For many herds, this "sweeper test" would require only partial testing of the herd as some animals will already have an individual status due to previous testing in the herd.
Table 1 provides information from the 27 July 2017 that shows the individual BVD status of animals on "not negative" holdings.
Table 1: BVD statues of animals on "not negative" holdings as of 27 July 2017
| Individual BVD status || Number of animals |
| BVD Negative || 187,908 |
| BVD Assumed Negative || 80,202 |
| BVD positive || 378 |
| BVD Assumed PI || 3 |
| Untested || 123,501 |
| Total on "not negative" holdings || 391,992 |