A Dutch farmer and agricultural management consultant who has personally experienced the devastating effects of bluetongue virus will visit the UK during February and March to share his knowledge with UK farmers.
Jakob Pustjens, from Nederweert in the south of The Netherlands, will attend a number of livestock markets in England and Wales to meet farmers face-to-face and talk openly about the impact of the disease in The Netherlands which was first discovered there during 2006.
With many of the questions about bluetongue currently voiced by UK producers currently being the same as those originally raised by Dutch farmers two years ago, Mr Pustjens hopes sharing his experiences will help increase their knowledge enabling farmers to arrive at informed decisions concerning disease control and vaccination.
“As a farmer you never think that bluetongue will affect you, until it does. Unfortunately, by the time that livestock show visible signs of the disease it’s already too late to prevent it. I knew many farmers in the North of The Netherlands who thought the disease would be confined to the south and would not reach them. It did and they were left counting the cost,” warns Mr Pustjens.
“Many farms in my region were very badly affected. One of my clients saw their average annual milk yield decline very quickly, from over 7500 litres to less than 6000 litres, while on another high-performing unit the average daily yield fell from over 40 litres to under 10 litres in less than a month. A quarter of the herd eventually had to be slaughtered,” he says.
The markets involved in the programme include:
Week 1 (Mainly West England and Wales)
- Welshpool: Mon 9 Feb
- Shrewsbury: Tues 10 Feb
- Worcester: Wed 11 Feb
- Brecon: Wed 11 Feb – Evening meeting 7pm
- Thirsk Thurs 12 Feb
- Lancaster Fri 13 Feb
Week 2 (Mainly North England) – commencing Monday 9th March