The bluetongue vaccination programme has begun, with cattle at Bixley Farms in Norfolk, the first animals in the UK to be jabbed.
Vets received the first of one million doses of the vaccine on 1 May from the manufacturer Intervet UK which said that the vaccine had gone from research and development to full-scale production in 20 months rather than the usual five to 10 years.
David Hallas, general manager from Intervet UK said: “Since DEFRA placed its order for 22.5 million doses, we have been working around the clock to provide a vaccine to help fight this devastating disease.
“We are ahead of schedule in releasing the vaccine and will be able to help the farming community protect livestock in time for the peak midge season.
“More doses of the vaccine will be delivered over the next few months and we expect to complete the DEFRA order by August.”
Farm manager at Bixley Farms, Timm Cane, said: “Bluetongue is a particularly horrific disease and whether you’re a smallholder with a few animals or a farmer with a large commercial enterprise it’s our duty to ensure that as many sheep and cattle in the protection zone as possible are vaccinated to help prevent the disease from spreading.”
Under EU law, vaccination is only allowed in a Protection Zone and DEFRA’s vaccination roll-out plan sets out how the vaccine will be distributed to ensure that those livestock most at risk are the first to receive it.
See our video and photo report on how to vaccinate stock.