This study was undertaken to investigate the impact of the retention of calves born in one calving season and considered to be persistently infected (PI) with bovine viral diarrhoea virus (BVDV) on herd-level outcomes in the following calving season. A secondary aim was to investigate the relationship between retention and the number of BVD+ calves detected the following season. The study population included a subset of herds enrolled in the 2012 voluntary BVD eradication programme in Ireland, specifically those with a birth registered to more than 80% of the cows between 1st January and 15th July and BVDV test results available for at least 80% of these calves, during both 2012 and 2013. Calves were considered PI based on either an initial positive result without further testing (BVDPOS) or a positive result on confirmatory testing (BVDPI), collectively considered BVD+ calves. Herd-level outcomes included the BVD status of the herd, and the number of BVD+ calves born between 1st January and 15th July 2013 (the study period). There was a significant univariable association between herd BVD status in 2013 and a number of general herd factors, including location, herd type, size and number of introduced animals (overall and those pregnant at time of introduction), as well as with each of six different factors related to the retention of virus-positive calves: the number of BVD+ calves in 2012; the maximum time (days) any one BVD+ born in 2012 was retained up to September 2013; the mean time (days) BVD+ animal(s) born in 2012 were retained up to September 2013; the date (quarter/year) the last BVD+ left the herd; the presence/number of 2012-born BVD+ retained in the herd at 1st January 2013. Separate multivariable models were constructed for each retention variable. The best model fit (based on AIC) was obtained using the retention variable "date (quarter/year) last BVD+ calf left the herd", followed by "total time all BVD+ calves were retained in the herd", with (log) herd size also retained in the models. Significant differences were also found in the number of positive calves detected in positive herds in 2013 for all of the calf retention risk factors. These findings confirm an increased probability of finding a BVD+ animal in a herd following the retention of positive calves born in the previous calving season, highlighting the importance of their prompt removal.
University College Dublin ->