Bluetongue meetings offer chance to learn from European experience

Bluetongue is posing an ever increasing threat to UK livestock, with many farmers wondering just what can be done to combat its spread and treat affected animals.


In a bid to increase understanding of the disease, Farmers Weekly has teamed up with the National Sheep Association, the National Beef Association, EBLEX and the Livestock Auctioneers Association to stage a series of three meetings in the south and east of England next month.


The meetings will be held on 7 November at Kettering, Northamptonshire, 8 November at Thame, Oxfordshire and 14 November at Ashford, Kent and will feature a range of speakers all with knowledge of the disease and its effects.


Each meeting will feature a range of speakers, covering topics including disease diagnosis, treatment, vaccination and control, explains NSA chief executive Peter Morris. “These meetings have been formulated to ensure farmers are better placed to deal with the disease and each meeting will benefit from having a speaker from Continental Europe who can offer some insight into how the disease has been dealt with there.”


Speaking at the Kettering and Ashford meetings will be Daan Dercksen, a leading vet from Holland who has built up extensive knowledge on the disease and can offer some unique insights into how it has affected the Dutch livestock industry.


In previous interviews with Farmers Weekly Mr Dercksen has highlighted how difficult the disease can be to diagnose and which other diseases, including orf in sheep and malignant catarrhal fever in cattle, bluetongue can be easily confused with. “The classic sign of bluetongue is a swollen face,” he added.


While these initial three meetings are in the south and east of England it is likely further meetings will be held throughout the country later in the year and early next year, said Mr Morris. “It’s important we’re all well equipped to spot and manage this disease which has the potential to cause significant losses for many farmers.”


The series of meetings supported by Farmers Weekly, NSA, NBA, EBLEX and LAA will be staged at Kettering Conference Centre, Northamptonshire on Wednesday 7 November, Thame Market, Oxfordshire on Thursday 8 November and Ashford Market, Kent on Wednesday 14 November. Meetings will start at 7pm.


Attendance is free and for more information contact NSA on 01684 892 661.

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