Research now shows cattle buyers are paying a premium for calves that test negative for being persistently infected (PI) with bovine viral diarrhea (BVD). According to an analysis of Superior Livestock Auction data for more than 350,000 head marketed, BVD-PI-negative calves commanded an average premium of $2.42 per hundredweight.1 For each 600-pound calf, this increases net profit by $10 per head.

“Netting an additional $10 or more on a 600-pound calf that is BVD-PI-negative makes it well worth the investment in testing,” says Chris McClure, general manager of Gold Standard Labs. “Veterinarians and producers have long known BVD is the most costly contributor to respiratory disease in cattle, and that BVD-PI cattle — despite being few in number — are the primary source of this highly contagious disease. Now, the marketplace is recognizing the significant economic benefit of documenting the BVD-PI-negative status of cattle.”

Cattle buyers also understand the value BVD-PI-negative calves bring to their stocker operations and feedyards. Research shows that simply exposing pens of feedlot cattle to a BVD-PI animal makes them 43 percent more likely to need treatment for bovine respiratory disease (BRD)2 and results in performance losses averaging -$88.26 per head. These numbers are making both buyers and sellers of calves more interested in having calves BVD-PI tested than ever before.

Using BVD-PI-negative test results to add value

In 2012, lots of cattle sold through Superior Livestock Auction were identified as being BVD-PI-negative through laboratory diagnostic testing. In this data analysis from June through September, 2,868 lots totaling 353,624 cattle were marketed.

Of these, the 41 lots identified as BVD-PI-negative cattle brought a $2.42-per-hundredweight premium compared to non-BVD-PI tested cattle. For a 600-pound calf, this meant a $14.52 advantage. After subtracting the testing costs, producers netted at least $10 per head.

“BVD-PI testing is about adding value to the calves you sell,” says McClure. “This real-world data confirms buyers are willing to pay more for documented BVD-PI-negative calves.”

New, advanced method for determining BVD-PI status

Gold Standard Labs offers a new, advanced method for rapid BVD-PI testing that uses both real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) technology. Combining both diagnostic technologies provides the greatest possible accuracy of correctly determining whether cattle are BVD-PI-negative. This diagnostic approach provides additional assurance by featuring the only real-time PCR detection kit to identify BVD-PI that’s approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The process of receiving quick-turn test results starts by collecting a simple ear notch from each animal. Each notch is placed in its own identified vial. Vials are then shipped in a container to Gold Standard Labs. Once the samples are received, Gold Standard Labs provides confidential, same-day results via email or fax.

For more information about the economic benefits of identifying BVD-PI-negative calves, or to order BVD-PI sample collection materials and take advantage of specially negotiated shipping rates, contact Gold Standard Labs at 800-808-3552 or [email protected].

Founded in 2005, Gold Standard Labs offers private diagnostic services for bovine veterinarians, and beef and dairy producers, including pregnancy testing and detection of cattle persistently infected with BVD. With locations in Jarrell, Texas, and Bowling Green, Ky., it has earned a reputation for setting the standard in animal diagnostics through accurate test results, timely reporting and excellent customer service. For more information, visit or call 800-808-3552.

1 King, M.E. 2012. The effects of health and management programs on the sale price of beef calves marketed through six Superior Livestock video auctions in 2012. Final Report, Pfizer Inc.
2 Loneragan, G. H., D. U. Thomson, D. L. Montgomery, G. L. Mason, and R. L. Larson. 2005. Prevalence, outcome, and health consequences associated with persistent infection with bovine viral diarrhea virus in cattle. JAVMA, Vol. 226, No. 4.
3 Hessman, B.E., R.W. Fulton, D.B. Sjeklocha, T.A. Murphy, J.F. Ridpath, and M.E. Payton. 2009. Evaluation of economic effects and the health and performance of the general cattle population after exposure to cattle persistently infected with bovine viral diarrhea virus in a starter feedlot. Am J Vet Res. 70:73.