23 May 1997

Faster cohort tracing

MAFF is looking at ways to speed up the tracing of cohorts for the selective cull.

It has accepted that progress so far is not as rapid as it might be. "And we are looking at ways of speeding that up," said a MAFF official. But no details are available of how or when that might be done.

When the cull was finally given the go-ahead at the turn of the year, MAFF predicted that there would be about 100,000 cohorts to be traced, and it hoped to complete that within six months. But accurate figures were never available because nobody knew how many cohorts had already been slaughtered in the over-30-month scheme.

Latest figures from the Intervention Board, nearly five months since tracing began, show that only 3200 cattle have been slaughtered so far, with 503 of those killed last week. Another 310 animals were due to go for slaughter early this week with the possibility of more later in the week.

Another 8820 cohorts have been traced and had movement restrictions placed on them. Just over 1000 of those have been issued with slaughter notices.

One reason for the slow progress was that many state vets, who were to be involved in cohort tracing, were preoccupied with the wide-spread outbreaks of Newcastle disease in poultry earlier this year.

The cull in Northern Ireland should be completed within the next two months, according to officials at the Department of Agriculture. &#42