Farmers have been told not to panic on the availability of BVD vaccines over the coming months. March and April have traditionally been the peak period for demand for BVD vaccines, in tandem with the spring calving season on dairy farms.
However, the removal of Pfizer's Pregsure vaccine, which catered for up to a third of the market, has led to widespread fears among farmers that there would be a supply shortfall this spring.
As a result, Novartis and Schering Plough are the only two suppliers of BVD vaccines into the market. In an attempt to address a supply shortage, Schering Plough commissioned a second plant to produce their vaccine.
However, this took six months to get up and running. "Supplies will be tight in February and March," acknowledged their veterinary advisor, Fergal Morris. "But we hope to supply significantly more this year and expect to have enough by the end of the season to cover everybody's requirements."
Norvartis Regional sales manager Eugene Smyth admitted that supplies of his company's vaccine could be tight in the second half of March. "Unlike other veterinary products, there can always be production failures with a vaccine like this," he said. "Each batch has to be tested on animals before it can be released for sale which increases the lead in time for product to get to distributors," he added.
"What we are saying to farmers is that the vaccine lasts for up to 14 months.
"Normally we recommend them to vaccinate every 12 months but if they hang on for an extra week or two this year, they will still be covered."