Senior Lecturer in Veterinary Epidemiology at Massey University School of Veterinary Science Dr Carolyn Gates writes that she is looking for farmers to take an online survey about Bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD).

I need help protecting the nation's beef and dairy herd.

I am part of a research team estimating the impact of a disease called Bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD).

We want farmers to tell us what a BVD control programme should look like for New Zealand by completing a short online survey by May 31.

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Bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD) is an infectious disease of cattle costing New Zealand's 25,000 beef farmers and 12,000 dairy farmers more than $150 million per year.

About one in two beef farms and two in three dairy farms have cattle with evidence of having been recently infected with the virus.

However, because the signs of BVD infections, (reduced pregnancy rates, poor calf growth, and higher disease rates), can be easy to miss, and fewer than five per cent of beef farmers are testing their herd annually, many beef farmers are not aware that BVD is biting into their bottom line.

The BVD Free New Zealand project is an industry-led research programme currently evaluating the business case for eradicating BVD from New Zealand.

Several European countries have already successfully cleared BVD from their cattle populations using different approaches to national control ranging from fast-track eradication to slowly phasing in mandatory control measures.

Because every beef farm in New Zealand has different management styles, risk factors, and priorities will influence the cost-benefits of BVD control, the BVD Free project is asking farmers to confidentially share how BVD impacts their business and what control measures would be practical for them to implement.

This involves completing a short 10 min survey on the BVD Free website (www.bvdfree.org.nz) before May 31.

The information from this survey as well as other ongoing research activities, will be used to help design computer simulation models to predict what a BVD free future would look like for New Zealand.

As an added incentive, funding is available for the first 500 eligible herds registered to receive a free herd BVD screening test.