16 August 2002

DEFRA defends 3m gap

FARMERS in England and Wales will be sent two new leaflets, one highlighting the need to maintain biosecurity measures on farms and the other about transporting livestock.

The biosecurity leaflet, which has the backing of all the main farm organisations, stresses the need for farmers to ensure record keeping is accurate.

It also suggests producers avoid contact with neighbours livestock and draw up a herd/ flock health plan with their vet.

Speaking at the launch, junior DEFRA minister Elliot Morley said biosecurity was a key aspect of livestock management.

While the separation distance for stock under the new breeding animal exemption from the 20-day standstill is 50m, the leaflet suggests stock brought on to a farm need only be kept 3m away from other animals.

But DEFRA denied this was inconsistent. The 3m gap only aimed to stop contamination through urine and faecal matter whereas the 50m distance was designed to prevent aerosol spread of foot-and-mouth, said an official.

Meanwhile, the government has announced that from Sept 6 sheep and goat farmers can move stock under a general licence rather than apply for individual movement licences.

But to help trace animals, farmers will have to send a movement document to their local authority within three days of animals arriving on their premises.

There will also be changes to the tagging rules for sheep and goats, increasing the maximum number of marks that can be applied from two to three.

Movement documents for sheep and pigs are also to be simplified so that all movements are accompanied by a single standard movement document.