3 March 2001
Lambing dilemma over foot-and-mouth
by John Burns
FEARS of spreading foot and mouth disease may mean some veterinary students could miss the opportunity to gain lambing experience this year.
A Devon farmer who normally has four students to help out for a month during lambing has been told he will now only receive one student for a fortnight.
The farm lambs 700 ewes and over 100 suckler cows. The students are usually on work experience and full-time lambing staff cost much more money.
The farmers wife and family have all taken outside jobs in an effort to keep the business going and cannot see how they can abandon those jobs.
Restrictions on livestock movements have yet to be relaxed so sheep stuck in fields can be moved on to farms to avert an animal welfare crisis during lambing.
Farmers have warned of a looming welfare disaster if pregnant sheep are not moved to farms because of restrictions to control foot-and-mouth disease.
March and April are the busiest months of the lambing season.
Junior agriculture minister Baroness Hayman said she was still considering a system to permit the movement of in-lamb ewes and in-calf cows.