Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD)

Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) is a highly contagious disease which reduces the productivity and profitability of affected herds, as well as compromising animal welfare

On 1st March 2016, DAERA introduced legislation which requires herd keepers to tag and test all newborn calves for BVD.

This legislation is being implemented on a day-to-day basis by the industry body Animal Health and Welfare Northern Ireland (AHWNI). 

For further information, please refer to the AHWNI website.

Latest situation

  • BVD was made a notifiable disease on 8 November 2023. If an animal is suspected of being infected with BVD, the Department should be notified immediately by sending brief details of the case to Positive BVD test results will be reported by laboratories to DAERA. A list of all notifiable diseases can be found here.

  • At the end of September 2023, herd level incidence fell to 2.99% (for the 12 months from 1st October 2022) representing a decrease of 74% from the end of the first year of the programme.

  • Following public consultation on the introduction of herd restrictions, legislation to implement them is currently being prepared. See further details here.

Exporting cattle to EU Member States with an approved BVD eradication programme or BVD free status

Visis this page for more information on BVD requirements to export cattle to EU Member States with an approved BVD eradication programme or BVD free status.

Further information on exporting breeding / production cattle to EU member States direct from their premises of origin, please visit Export certification for breeding / production cattle to EU Member States direct from their premises of origin and from an Export Assembly Centre visit Export certification for breeding / production cattle to EU Member States from an export assembly centre.

Guidance for authorised Private Veterinary Practitioners can be found at BVD Guidance for aPVP.

Establishment Free from BVD

If your herd meets the requirements of Establishment Free from BVD this will reduce the testing and quarantine which may otherwise be needed before exporting animals to an EU Member State with an approved BVD eradication programme, or BVD Free Status. Document EF1 explains the requirements of an Establishment Free from BVD. If you believe you meet these requirements you can apply for Establishment Free from BVD status using form EF2.

BVD legislation

The Bovine Viral Diarrhoea Eradication Scheme Order (Northern Ireland) 2016 contains a number of measures aimed at reducing levels of BVD in NI.

It requires herd keepers to tag and test all calves for presence of the BVD virus (BVDV) as soon as is possible after birth or at least within 20 days. Bovines that enter herds after birth also need tested, either by blood or tissue sampling, as soon as possible or within 20 days of entry to the herd.

Any animals that test positive (or inconclusive) must be isolated from the rest of the herd in separate housing from other cattle. As strict isolation is critical to prevent the spread of infection to other animals DAERA carry out unannounced isolation inspections and enforcement action is taken if necessary.

There is no requirement to remove a positive animal. However, individual animals that have not received a BVD negative test result cannot be moved off farm other than to slaughter (if they have been tested), for rendering or under licence issued by the Department.

The overarching objective of the policies is to control and eventually eradicate BVD from all cattle in NI. This will result in improved animal health and increased productivity and profitability for farmers and, consequently, the wider Agri-food industry. It will also bring environmental and wider societal benefits.

Herd Restrictions Consultation

A public consultation was carried out by the Department in Autumn 2022. The consultation document sought views on proposals to impose herd restrictions as a further disease control measure to reduce BVD levels in NI. By contributing to BVD eradication, the introduction of herd restrictions is expected to have an overall positive impact on rural communities, and lead to the increased productivity and profitability of cattle farms.

Overall, the Department’s proposals were very favourably received and the introduction of herd restrictions as a disease control measure for BVD in NI was welcomed by 100% of respondents. Feedback received from the consultation has informed the final proposals.

The Consultation on introducing BVD herd restrictions, Summary of Responses with Way Forward and Impact Assessments can be found at Consultation on proposed introduction of Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) herd restrictions | Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (

BVD is a Notifiable Disease

From 8 November 2023, you are required to inform DAERA immediately if you suspect or detect BVD.

  • If a Private Veterinary Practitioner (PVP) is consulted to examine a suspect animal, it is expected that they will inform DAERA. Brief details of the case should be sent to 
  • Diagnostic or screening samples (bloods, bulk milk etc) will be notified to DAERA directly by the laboratory.
  • Positive BVD virus test results from ear-tag testing will be notified to DAERA automatically via the Animal Health and Welfare Northern Ireland database.

Clinical Signs of BVD

BVD is a viral disease of cattle caused by BVD virus. Infection can result in a wide range of clinical signs including:

  • Reproductive problems, including failure to conceive, abortion and birth defects.
  • Respiratory disease
  • Fever, loss of appetite and diarrhoea
  • Mucosal Disease (MD) which is a severe and fatal wasting condition with diarrhoea and ulceration of the gut and feet. This typically occurs between 6 and 18 months of age.
  • Weakening of the immune system, leaving cattle more susceptible to other infections, particularly scours and pneumonia in calves.

Calves that become infected with the virus approximately between the 30th and 120th day of gestation become persistently infected (PI). They do not develop immunity to the disease and shed the virus at high levels for life. As such, they are the most significant source of infection within a herd. PI calves may look normal but the majority die before the age of two, without reaching breeding age or slaughter weight, either from mucosal disease or other infections. PI animals can look entirely normal, particularly at birth, but may become stunted and ill-thriven.

List of laboratories approved for BVD testing.

Table of laboratories approved by DAERA to provide BVD test results for the Northern Ireland BVD eradication scheme can be found here.

Press Releases


Back to top