Estimating the Effect of a Bovine Viral Diarrhea Virus Control Program: An Empirical Study on the Performance of Dutch Dairy Herds

Xiaomei Yue*, Jingyi Wu, Mariska van der Voort, Wilma Steeneveld, Henk Hogeveen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


More and more European countries have implemented a bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV) control program. The economic effects of such programs have been evaluated in simulations, but empirical studies are lacking, especially in the final stage of the program. We investigated the economic (gross margin) and production effects (milk yield, somatic cell count, and calving interval) of the herds obtaining BVDV-free certification based on longitudinal annual accounting and herd performance data from Dutch dairy herds between 2014 and 2019, the final stages of the Dutch national BVDV-free program. This study was designed as a case-control study: two types of case herds were defined for two analyses. The case herds in the first analysis are herds where the BVDV status changed from “BVDV not free” to “BVDV free” during the study period. The not-free status refers to a herd that participated in the BVDV-free program but had not yet obtained the BVDV-free certification. In the second analysis, the case herds started participating in the Dutch BVDV-free program during the study period and obtained the BVDV-free certification. Control herds in both analyses were BVDV-free during the entire study period. Potential bias between the covariates of the two herd groups was reduced by matching case and control herds using the propensity score matching method. To compare the differences between case and control herds before and after BVDV-free certification, we used the time-varying Difference-in-Differences estimation (DID) methodology. The results indicate that there was no significant change in milk yield, somatic cell count, calving interval, and gross margin upon BVDV-free certification. There are several possible explanations for the non-significant effects observed in our study, such as the final stage of the BVDV control program, not knowing the true BVDV infection situation in case herds and not knowing if control measures were implemented in case herds prior to participating in the BVDV-free program. In our study, the effects of BVDV-free certification might have been underestimated, given that the Dutch BVDV control program became mandatory during the study period, and some of the case herds might have never experienced any BVDV infection. The results of this study suggest that in the final stage of the BVDV control program, the program may no longer have a clear benefit to the herd performance of participating dairy herds. When designing national programs to eradicate BVDV, it is therefore important to include incentives for such farms to motivate them to join the program.

Original languageEnglish
Article number892928
JournalFrontiers in Veterinary Science
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jul 2022


  • bovine viral diarrhea virus
  • control program
  • dairy
  • Difference-in-Differences
  • economic
  • propensity score matching


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