NORTHERN IRELAND has relaxed its foot-and-mouth-inspired standstill rules for farmers who bring new animals onto their holdings.

Under the old system, farmers were obliged to observe a 30-day standstill for cattle and pigs, and a 21-day standstill for sheep and goats. But, from Dec 1, these have been reduced to just six days.

The new legislation also provides a number of exemptions.

For example, it will still be possible to move animals direct to slaughter, or to the vet or an AI centre, without meeting any standstill requirement. And farmers who can place any new animals in an approved isolation facility will be able to move the rest of their stock freely.

Licensed dealers will also be able to bring an animal onto approved premises and make one further move to a farm of final destination without triggering the standstill.

But the department of agriculture has warned that, as well as relaxing the rules, it will be stepping up its enforcement.