Fears that foot and mouth disease may have infected a third farm, this time outside the 10km protection zone, are being played down.

Farmer Laurence Matthews, who owns the farm to the west of Dorking, told the media on Friday morning that his vet was convinced it was not foot and mouth and that his animals were looking brighter this morning.

NFU president Peter Kendall also told the BBC that he now thought it “extremely unlikely” that the latest suspect would turn out to be a foot and mouth positive.

Responding to Radio Five Live’s suggestion that the animals had been “drooling”, he said that his understanding was that they had just been a “bit off colour” and that, as a precaution, Mr Matthews had called in government vets yesterday afternoon.

He urged everyone to keep a sense of proportion, while maintaining high levels of biosecurity.

Official results from samples taken from Mr Matthews’ cattle are expected from the government this afternoon.

Speaking to journalists last night, chief vet Debby Reynolds said; “This is a developing disease situation. The containment and eradication of FMD remains our priority. This is why we have moved swiftly to put in place a temporary control zone(3km) while we investigate this development.

Dr Reynolds also announced two further developmens.

With effect from today (Friday, 10 August), to prevent acute welfare problems in the protection and surveillance zones, the movement of feed and fodder within a farm, and the direct delivery to a farm of feed and fodder from outside the zones, is now permitted.

In addition, burial of animals on the farm where they died is now permitted within the protection and surveillance zones.

For further updates on foot and mouth, see our special report