Bovine Viral Diarrhoea eradication scheme: consultation on phase five

Through the Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) Advisory Group we have agreed to consult the next phase of the BVD eradication scheme.

Annex C: Partial Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment

Title of Proposal

The Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (Scotland) Order 2018

Purpose and intended effect

  • Background

Bovine viral diarrhoea ( BVD) virus causes a complex of diseases in cattle, the most important of which can interfere with reproduction, affect the unborn calf and ultimately lead to fatal mucosal disease. BVD virus can also cause enteritis during acute or transient infection which is usually mild but occasionally severe enough to cause death, even in adult cattle. Transient BVD virus infection is also associated with significant suppression of disease resistance, leading to outbreaks of other diseases including pneumonia and scours.

BVD is mainly spread by persistently infected ( PI) cattle which are born with the disease due to exposure in the womb. These animals will have the disease all their lives and shed the virus continuously, infecting unprotected animals through direct and indirect contact.

The Scottish Government, together with industry, veterinary practitioners and scientific partners, is committed to eradicating BVD from Scotland. We have been working together through the BVD Advisory Group to ensure we achieve the ambition of eradicating BVD in a way that suits the distinctive nature of Scottish farming.

  • Objective

BVD eradication will make Scotland's cattle businesses more profitable and sustainable. In 2010 Scottish Government economists' analysis showed that, once BVD was eradicated from the herd, the average dairy herd could save £15,800 per year, the average beef herd £4,800 [2] . BVD eradication also has a role to play in the global effort against antimicrobial resistance: avoiding the need to treat PIs and transiently affected animals will reduce the use of antibiotics, thereby reducing the risk of developing antimicrobial resistance.

To progress the scheme to a satisfactory conclusion, the BVD Advisory Group have agreed that there should be further restrictions on "not negative" herds to prevent disease spread in the Scottish herd. These further restrictions will particularly focus on keepers who choose to retain PI animals or do not investigate the cause of their "not negative" status.

  • Rationale for Government intervention

The aim of eradicating BVD from Scotland fits in with the wealthier, fairer and greener strategic objectives of the National Performance Framework. The eradication of BVD will increase the productivity and profitability of Scottish cattle enterprises by reducing costs associated with the disease such as increased mortality and reduced fertility. This would have positive environmental benefit for Scotland due to reduced greenhouse gas emissions per unit output from cattle, plus a reduction in the use of antibiotics and improved animal welfare.


  • Within Government

The Scottish BVD eradication scheme is an industry-led scheme that is supported by the Scottish Government. The Animal Health Disease Prevention Team has developed these proposals with the agreement of the BVD Advisory Group which includes representatives from Local Authorities and the Animal and Plant Health Agency.

  • Public Consultation

Through the BVD Advisory Group, these proposals have been developed in partnership with representatives from the livestock industry, veterinary profession and science sector.

A public consultation on the proposals will run for 12 weeks from 21 August to 6 November 2017.

  • Business

We have engaged with 14 beef and dairy farms across Scotland ranging from small to large businesses prior to the publication of the public consultation. Consultation took the form of a face-to-face interview or telephone conversation based on their experience of how the eradication scheme is working and how they would like to see it improved. Respondents who chose to have their interview made public will be published on the BVD section of the Scottish Government website.

We will also ensure that a number of representative industry groups who may have an interest in the proposals are sent a link to the consultation.


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

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

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.


Option 1

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

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

As shown in table 1, on 27 July 2017 approximately two thirds of animals on 1,666 "not negative" herds already had an individual status. There were 123,501 untested animals. It is difficult to provide an individual cost for each "not negative" herd as each herd will vary in size and we would also need to take account of the herd's previous BVD testing history. Using the untested animals from table 1 as an example, the overall cost to industry for BVD testing these animals could range from approximately £400,000 to £850,000. We would expect to see the number of untested animals on "not negative" herds drop over time as cattle keepers anticipate the "sweeper test" coming into force late in 2018, arrange to tag test their calves and thus obtain individual BVD status for the calf and the dam (breeding females benefit from assumed status if their calf is negative).

Cattle keepers who persist in retaining virus positive animals on their holding may also incur additional management costs under the proposed requirement to house virus positive animals in a separate airspace from BVD negative and non-status cattle. The herd should benefit from increased efficiency and profitability through a decrease in mortality and increase in fertility once the PI(s) have been removed and isolated from the herd. We do not foresee a requirement for new housing to be built to accommodate virus positive animals as cattle keepers are already required to have suitable accommodation on farm to isolate sick or injured animals.

Scottish Firms Impact Test

The consultation proposals have been agreed with the BVD Advisory Group. Consultations will be made with industry stakeholder organisations as explained in the consultation section and the views expressed will be reported in this section in the final BRIA.

Competition Assessment

The current BVD Order places different obligations on farmers with breeding and non-breeding herds. This inequality is justified as the disease is overwhelmingly spread by animals that are infected in the womb, become Persistently Infected and shed large volumes of virus all their lives. Cutting off the production of these animals is critical to controlling the disease and therefore the heavier burden placed on breeding herds where calves are produced is justified.

"Not negative" herds face higher costs to eradicate the disease from their herd but these are the herds that will benefit most from BVD eradication. Dairy farms may be impacted disproportionately due to their high replacement rates, but enjoy greater potential benefits through increased fertility, reduced veterinary costs and improved production.

Scottish cattle farmers have higher production costs which may place them at a disadvantage to farmers not covered by the legislation such as cattle keepers in England and Wales. However, in the long term eradicating BVD will cut costs, making the Scottish industry more efficient and competitive. There is likely to be a competitive advantage in selling cattle with a BVD free status, such as increased market prices as seen with TB free cattle.

Test run of business forms

No changes are proposed to the current requirement for businesses to report the following to the Scottish Government (reports are held on ScotEID).

  • The county parish holding number ( CPH);
  • The date when the samples were taken;
  • The date of the test;
  • The testing laboratory;
  • The method of screening used; and,
  • The overall result for the herd.

Legal Aid Impact Test

The proposal is unlikely to have an impact on the legal aid fund.

Enforcement, sanctions and monitoring

Local Authorities are responsible for enforcing the BVD Order with co-ordination from the Animal and Plant Health Agency ( APHA) who are responsible for issuing any breach letters.

Criminal offences are being created, although these are largely in line with the current BVD Order, which is made under the Animal Health Act 1981. The maximum penalty is a fine and two years' imprisonment.

A database operated by ScotEID lists the BVD status of all Scottish breeding herds and any individual animals that have been tested by an approved BVD testing laboratory, allowing the disease exposure, incidence and location to be monitored.

Implementation and delivery plan

Phase 1 farmers volunteered to test the BVD status of their animals and report the results to the Scottish Government from 1 September 2011.

Phase 2 required cattle breeding herds to be screened for BVD by 1 February 2013 and annually thereafter.

Phase 3 brought in control measures that placed restrictions on movement and sale of BVD positive animals, restrictions on untested herds/animals and required a herd's status to be declared before sale from 1 January 2014.

Phase 4 brought in further control measures on "not negative" herds, reduced testing options, a requirement to test replacement animals from untested herds and created an assumed negative status for dams of calves that have tested negative. Phase 4 was implemented on 1 June 2015.

Phase 5, the proposals we are consulting on, will increase further the pressure on "not negative" herds, especially those that do not remove PI animals from their herd. This phase will also introduce a number of procedures that aim to streamline and improve the eradication scheme. We expect this to come into force in the Autumn of 2018.

  • Post-implementation review

A database operated by ScotEID contains the disease status of all the herds in Scotland. This is updated continually with the results of BVD tests. The data held on ScotEID allows BVD exposure and incidents to be monitored and therefore provides the necessary tools to determine whether the policy is having the desired effect.

Summary and recommendation

Option 2 is the preferred option prior to consultation. The proposals should progress the scheme to a satisfactory conclusion. Without adding new restrictions and controls it is likely that the disease will continue to prevail at a low level, which carries the significant risk of disease increase over the next few years due to loss of confidence in the scheme by those cattle keepers who are currently engaged with the scheme.

  • Summary costs and benefits table
Option Total benefit per annum:
- economic, environmental, social
Total cost per annum:
- economic, environmental, social
- policy and administrative

Eradication of BVD would enhance Scotland's reputation for good animal welfare and high quality products.

Increased efficiency of disease free herds will reduce the intensity of greenhouse gas emissions generated by beef and milk production.

All breeding herds have a known disease status, updated annually: beneficial to potential buyers.

Eradication of BVD is estimated to benefit farms by around £37/cow/year. After BVD eradication, average dairy and beef herds could benefit by £15,800 and £4, 800 per year respectively.

Cattle keepers face an annual testing cost, which can be as low as £3.50 per head.


Eradication of BVD would enhance Scotland's reputation for good animal welfare and high quality products.

Increased efficiency of disease free herds should reduce the intensity of greenhouse gas emissions generated by beef and milk production.

All breeding herds have a known disease status, updated annually: beneficial to potential buyers.

Breeding herds that have been "not negative" for two or more years would need to investigate the cause of their "not negative" status, forcing the identification of PIs.

Virus positive animals would be isolated from the rest of the herd, reducing the risk of spreading the disease.

Eradication of BVD is estimated to benefit farms by around £37/cow/year. After BVD eradication, average dairy and beef herds could benefit by £15,800 and £4,800 per year respectively.

Cattle keepers face an annual testing cost, which can be as low as £3.50 per head.

Potential for approximately £400,000 to £850,000 cost to industry to BVD test untested animals on "not negative" holdings.

Declaration and publication

  • Sign-off for Partial BRIAs:

I have read the Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment and I am satisfied that, given the available evidence, it represents a reasonable view of the likely costs, benefits and impact of the leading options. I am satisfied that business impact has been assessed with the support of businesses in Scotland.

Signed: Fergus Ewing


Fergus Ewing MSP
Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and Connectivity

Scottish Government Contact point:

BVD Policy Team
P Spur
Saughton House
Broomhouse Drive
EH11 3XD

Tel: 0300 244 9823
Fax: 0300 244 9797


Email: Ian Murdoch,

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

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