DEFRA has issued a tender for 13m more doses of bluetongue vaccine – 8m for use in England and 5m for Wales.

Under EU law, vaccination is only allowed in a Protection Zone. But DEFRA plans to expand this zone, county by county, as more vaccine becomes available.

“By underwriting a further order for vaccine, I am giving farmers the clearest signal that there will be vaccine available as we roll out the campaign,” said DEFRA secretary Hilary Benn. “I want the whole industry to engage with this over the weeks and months ahead.”

The Farmers Union of Wales echoed the DEFRA secretary’s sentiments.

Union president Gareth Vaughan said farmers should take full advantage of the opportunities to protect their own animals.

“If they have not already done so, farmers should register interest with their vet now so that they will be able to purchase vaccine as soon as it becomes available,” Mr Vaughan said.

The FUW added that it expected Wales would be declared a Protection Zone early in the summer, at which point the vaccine would be made available to purchase by livestock keepers through their vet.