14 March 2001
Disease suspect cow runs amok

By FWi staff

FARMERS are questioning the effectiveness of foot-and-mouth controls after a cow escaped from an infected farm while slaughtering was taking place.

The animal fled to a dairy farm in Owlethirst in Cumbria, where farmer Billy Robinson discovered it among his cows.

As he faces an anxious wait to discover if his stock must also be slaughtered, Mr Robinsons case has been taken up by a fellow farmer.

National Sheep Association chairman David Smith, from Haydon Bridge, Northumberland has written to Agriculture Minister Nick Brown.

In the letter, Mr Smith claims that MAFF officials neither pursued the animal nor made an effort at the time to contact neighbouring producers.

“If such standards are a reflection of how the whole operation is being conducted, then quite frankly, it will be a very long time before we are rid of this scourge,” he wrote.

“I believe the Ministry should know that the distress it has inflicted is considerable.

“There has been a substantial loss of confidence in the entire operation in the locality as a result.”

Mr Robinson discovered the cow among his milking herd at 7pm on Saturday (10 March), but said he had absolutely no idea where it came from.

At 9am the next morning, Mr Robinson learnt that the animal had escaped from an infected farm and was told that a MAFF team would come to destroy it.

But by that time the animal had spent the night with four of Mr Robinsons cattle, as it was too upset to remain in isolation.

The animal was slaughtered and taken away by its owner in a disinfected trailer. MAFF was unable to comment on the incident.

Foot-and-mouth – confirmed outbreaks
Foot-and-mouth – FWi coverage