Schmallenberg virus is now so prevalent its impact will be felt on UK milk production – as well as in calf and lamb losses, the NFU council was told.

More than 1,000 cases of the disease – which causes deformed and stillborn calves and lambs – have been confirmed across England and Wales. But the number is widely held to be the tip of the iceberg because the virus is not notifiable and many farmers don’t report it.

Farmers are encouraged to report the disease so the scale of the problem can be accurately ascertained. “The only way we are going to get on top of this disease is by keeping strict records,” said NFU Warwickshire delegate David Eglin.

“The only way we are going to get on top of this disease is by keeping strict records.”
David Eglin

Dorset farmer Robert Lasseter said sheep producers grappling with a collapse in lamb prices needed a morale boost. “We need to know where we are going with this. It is a crisis out there. It feels to me like we are sitting on a time bomb.”

NFU livestock chairman Charles Sercombe confirmed that livestock farmers would be encouraged to complete a national Schmallenberg survey towards the end of the lambing season. “None of us knows what the likely impact of the disease will be and it is important that we find out,” he said.

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