Livestock markets for cattle, sheep, and pigs will be allowed to resume in England and Wales, outside the foot and mouth surveillance zone in Surrey, from next Monday (3 September).
Also from this date, animals susceptible to F&M can be taken to shows and other animal gatherings.
“Having considered carefully a veterinary risk assessment of allowing animals to move to livestock markets and agricultural shows, I have concluded that these can restart from Monday as part of our staged risk-based approach to easing movement controls,” said chief veterinary officer Debby Reynolds.
“A number of additional conditions apply while the surveillance zone remains in place and it is critical that these are adhered to strictly by everyone involved.”
These mainly relate to inspection of all livestock on unloading, records being immediately available, more clarity on steps to follow where lame sheep are identified, and greater attention to cleansing and disinfection, both personal and vehicles/machinery.
The announcement has been welcomed by a core group of industry representatives. “This is an important development,” said a statement. “The return of markets, shows and sales, albeit under tighter controls, is vitally important as they allow planning for the autumn breeding and store sales.”
Livestock going through auction marts will be subject to the new 20-day standstill rules, if they go on to another holding rather than direct to slaughter. This will affect all animals on the recipient holding, not just those that have been transported.
Controls within the surveillance zone remain unchanged. Any further changes are dependent upon completion of the current surveillance, including blood testing sheep, which will not be before 8 September.
Live auction marts got under way in Scotland this week, with auctioneers reporting decent prices for prime stock, but lower values for store animals due to the problems caused by the new 20-day standstill rules.
For more on foot and mouth, see our special report