Research into BVD carried out by Professors George Gunn and Alistair Stott at SRUC, Professor Claire Heffernan at the University of Reading and Professor Joe Brownlie at the Royal Veterinary College led to the establishment of BVD eradication programmes in Scotland and then elsewhere in the UK. By providing vital evidence that was already widely accepted in the cattle sector, the work has also influenced government animal health policies on disease control, and changed the approach of livestock industries to the control of infectious diseases at both national and international levels. Their research has underpinned the establishment of HI Health, which began a process that led to the creation of the voluntary UK Cattle Health Certification Standards (CHeCS). These schemes, which have been running for 12 years, have encouraged ca 13,000 UK cattle farmers (equivalent to ca 15% of the national herd) to undertake measures to prevent and control specific infectious disease in cattle, in addition to helping to convince the majority of cattle veterinary practices across Scotland of the benefits of engaging in BVD control schemes. In financial terms, the research has resulted in an average saving of ca £2,000 per typical herd per annum in Scottish beef-suckler farms. The research further demonstrated that a Scottish eradication scheme was, in net present value terms, delivering £11m in savings to consumers through reduced milk price, and £37m in savings to dairy farmers through reduced veterinary costs and greater sales volume. These figures have directly influenced government policy even beyond the UK. For example, the research has underpinned the rationale for Animal Health Ireland’s new BVD eradication programme, which to date has saved the country over €100m per annum.


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