Vets have warned livestock farmers in flood-stricken areas to be aware of the health dangers posed by receding flood waters.

While farmers will be relieved to see flood waters starting to subside in some areas, the risk of contamination by sewage, chemicals and other waste is very real, according to Robin Hargreaves, president of the British Veterinary Association.

More on flooding

“Farmers need to consider the risks posed by contamination both to drinking water and feed for their livestock,” he said. “Both silage and forage may have been contaminated by chemicals or waste and should not be fed to animals if they show signs of spoilage or mould. If alternative water or feed is not available, it may be best to consider selling animals and reinvesting when conditions improve.”

Farmers should also try to prevent pets from drinking contaminated water, as the effluent and bacteria could be very harmful, added Mr Hargreaves. “It is worth checking with your vet that you are up-to-date with all vaccinations. This will give your pet the best possible protection against diseases, such as leptospirosis, which can be spread through stagnant water.”

Livestock owners in affected areas should speak to their vet if they have concerns, and check with their environmental health team about local levels of contamination.