17 August 2001
More livestock auctions to re-open

By Shelley Wright and Alistair Driver

MORE livestock markets will re-open after Britains first live auction since the beginning of the foot-and-mouth crisis, on Monday (20 August).

Sales of live cattle and sheep in Scotland will start in all but two counties just weeks after 500 store cattle go through the ring on the Scottish island of Orkney.

Auctions will be allowed to re-open everywhere in Scotland except Dumfries and Galloway and the Borders from 1 September.

Markets in disease-free counties of England and Wales could re-open shortly afterwards, said the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs.

Government officials and vets will decide whether to re-open cattle markets in time for autumn movements of livestock, said a DEFRA spokesman.

The markets most likely to re-open first are in west Wales, East Anglia, and southern England, which have been official designated provisionally disease-free.

But it is unlikely that the markets will be allowed to deal with sheep, which are considered at much greater risk of spreading the disease.

Livestock Auctioneers Association secretary David Brown said he hoped to convince government officials that markets should re-open in early September.

“We have been suggesting markets that have been acting as collection centres should be approved as cattle markets,” he added.

At the long-awaited Orkney sale, strict biosecurity measures will help minimise the risk of spreading foot-and-mouth disease.

Orkney Auction Mart manager John Copeland said buyers would be prevented from handling livestock and must wear protective clothing.

Farmers will have to wear rubber boots and disposable plastic overalls, or boiler suits that can be washed when they go home.

Store and fat sales will be allowed, but will not take place on the same day at the same market. A 72-hour gap between sales will allow for disinfection.

After sale, fat stock will go directly to slaughter. Store animals will not be allowed to move from their new owners farm unless it is to slaughter.

Orkneys last livestock sale was on 19 February – days before the first case of foot-and-mouth was confirmed on the British mainland for more than 30 years.

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