21 December 2001

20-day rule set to stay

THE 20-day movement restriction, introduced during the foot-and-mouth outbreak, is likely to remain in place for the foreseeable future, believes SAC sheep specialist John Vipond.

"I believe it will be imposed by EU vets because they believe the problems we had with F&M were caused by the rapid, frequent movement of sheep.

"We must do something. The options will be to retain the 20-day rule or introduce a comprehensive system of traceability, which is a more expensive option," he told an SAC meeting.

With that in mind, sheep producers should consider making management changes to use the 20-day rule to their advantage, he suggested.

"At the moment, the rule is a nonsense because you can bring sheep home and put them in a field where they have access to your neighbours sheep through a fence.

"A better idea would be to use the 20 days positively as a quarantine period. When bought-in stock are isolated from other animals, it would ensure they were not introducing disease," explained Dr Vipond.

This could help control anthelminitic resistance, already a problem on 60% of Scotlands farms, and reduce the spread of sheep scab. &#42