Livestock markets reopen after virus
By Shelley Wright, Scotland correspondent
BRITAINS first livestock auction in six months will be held next week after the partial lifting of a ban imposed because of foot-and-mouth disease.
About 500 store cattle are expected to go through the auction ring at the sale which will take place on the Scottish island of Orkney on Monday (20 August).
More sales of live cattle and sheep will begin in all areas of Scotland, except Dumfries and Galloway and the Borders, from 1 September.
The news was greeted with relief by farmers and auctioneers, although strict biosecurity measures will prevent buyers handling the livestock.
“Some might think that the accompanying regulations are too severe,” said Scottish rural development minister Ross Finnie.
“But it is critical that everyone remains vigilant and understands that risks are still attached to live markets.”
John Copeland, manager of Orkney Auction Mart, said everyone attending the livestock sale will have to wear rubber boots.
They will also wear disposable protective clothing, such as plastic overalls, or boiler suits that can be washed when farmers go home, he added.
Sales of both store and fat stock will be allowed, but cannot take place on the same day. There will be a 72-hour gap between sales to allow disinfection.
After a sale, fat stock must go directly to slaughter. Store animals will not be allowed to move from their new owners farm again unless it is to slaughter.
Willie Blair, secretary of the Institute of Auctioneers and Appraisers in Scotland, said sheep would be individually tagged to improve traceability.
“Until today we have been in a dark tunnel. Now, although still in the tunnel, we at least have a little light,” he said.
“It is a huge relief. We have 30,000 beef cows on Orkneys 19 islands and we are just approaching the traditional time for selling the stores.”
Orkneys last livestock sale was on 19 February – days before the first foot-and-mouth case was confirmed on the British mainland for more than 30 years.
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