Brown unveils mass slaughter plan
By Johann Tasker
HUNDREDS of thousands of healthy animals are to be killed on farms in Scotland and northern England in a bid to control foot-and-mouth disease.
The measure will see the slaughter of all farm animals within 3km (1.86 miles) of holdings where an outbreak of the disease is confirmed.
Agriculture minister Nick Brown made the announcement during an emergency statement in the House of Commons on Thursday (15 March).
Infection in northern England and southern Scotland has been mostly in the sheep flock although there is now cattle-to-cattle spread in Cumbria.
In Scotland, 200,000 sheep – equivalent to 1% of the Scottish flock – will be shot on farms – mainly around the towns of Canonbie and Lockerbie.
A similar strategy will be adopted for Cumbria and Northumberland.
In Devon, the disease has spread due to the nature of agriculture with many small farms, dense animal populations, and movements of people, said Mr Brown.
The strategy in Devon will be different, involving patrols by veterinary experts or trained lay staff to all farms within 3km on all infected farms.
Those people will ensure that cases of foot-and-mouth disease are identified as soon as possible to prevent onward spread, said Mr Brown.
Mr Brown said there was also clear evidence that sheep from markets in Welshpool, Northampton, and Longtown had been exposed to foot-and-mouth.
A number of flocks into which those sheep were imported may be infected and will also have to be shot, said Mr Brown.
The same approach will be taken to sheep handled by two unnamed livestock dealers who have been associated with movements of infected sheep, he said.
Mr Brown said he would consider modifying restrictions in disease-free areas provided that ,those areas remain clean over the next seven to 10 days.
The minister said he was deeply conscious of animal welfare problems posed by livestock movement restrictions put in place to control foot-and-mouth.
Details of a scheme for moving livestock, including pregnant ewes ready for lambing, are due to be published later on Tuesday (15 March).
“The general principle will be that animals can be moved within a presently controlled area, or within the currently disease-free areas, and into an area of higher disease risk, but not the other way,” said Mr Brown.
“It is my intention that farmers will be able to apply for licences over the weekend.”
Farmers will be compensated if they choose to shoot animals which cannot be moved because of their condition or because they are in infected areas.
Payments will be made for such animals on the lines of the welfare disposal scheme adopted during last years swine-fever outbreak in East Anglia.
|Foot-and-mouth – confirmed outbreaks|
|Foot-and-mouth – FWi coverage|