The effect of becoming BVDV-free on fertility and udder health in Dutch dairy herds

aQuantitative Veterinary Epidemiology group, Wageningen Institute of Animal Sciences, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 338, 6700 AH Wageningen, The Netherlands bAnimal Health Service, P.O. Box 9, 7400 AA Deventer, The Netherlands cDutch Udder Health Centre, P.O. Box 2030, 7420 AA Deventer, The Netherlands


The aim of the study was to investigate the effect of BVDV-free certification of dairy herds on fertility and udder health. Cases were defined as dairy herds that had at least one BVDV-antigen positive animal, subsequently gained the BVDV-free status by participating in the BVDV-control programme of the Animal Health Service (AHS) and maintained this status for at least 2 years. Controls had an unknown status for BVDV and two controls were matched to one case by region and herd size. Data concerning fertility and milk production of all herds were provided by The Dutch Royal Cattle Syndicate (NRS). After validation, data of 79,607 cows of 392 case herds and 124,831 cows of 730 control herds were analysed on ten fertility and three udder health parameters.

For the analyses all observations were aggregated at herd level. To account for the matching, differences for fertility parameters were calculated between each of the two pairs of case–control within a matching code. The analyses were performed with these differences as dependent variables. Mixed models and GEE models were used for the statistical analyses of fertility and udder health.

Case herds had a significantly lower abortion rate in the BVDV-free period than controls herds (10.3% versus 11.6%, P < 0.01) while there was no significant difference for the other fertility parameters. There was no effect on mastitis prevalence or bulk-milk SCC but the mastitis incidence significantly decreased for case herds in the BVDV-free period (cases 0.6 % lower than controls, P < 0.05). In our study the effect of getting the BVDV-free status may have been underestimated for several reasons like an unknown status for control herds, not knowing when an acute infection occurred in case herds and not knowing the management for both cases and controls. Interestingly, both significant variables, being abortions and mastitis incidence, are parameters that are more difficult to influence by the farmer than the other parameters (e.g. calving interval).


This article was published in Preventive Veterinary Medicine, 84, I.M.G.A. Berendsa,b, W.A.J.M. Swartb, K. Frankenaa, J. Muskensb, T.J.G.M. Lamb,c and G. van Schaikb, The effect of becoming BVDV-free on fertility and udder health in Dutch dairy herds, Peru, 48-60, Copyright Elsevier 2008.