Stricken farmers offer help in cull

28 March 2001

Stricken farmers offer help in cull

By Jeremy Hunt, north-west correspondent

FARMERS who have lost livestock to foot-and-mouth have offered to assist in mass gathers of potentially infected ewes in the Lake District fells.

With quad bikes widely used to check stock on many farms, there is a shortage of men with sheepdogs to conduct a swift and efficient round-up.

Usually most ewes would have been brought to the in-bye land for lambing, but the movement restrictions have left large numbers of ewes on high ground.

One Carlisle dairy farmer whose herd has already been destroyed said he felt his time would be best spent helping other producers facing a the same ordeal.

More Cumbrian farmers are expected to volunteer their skills to help round up potentially infected ewes which are roaming vast areas of open fell.

News that foot-and-mouth had spread into the Lake District from heavily infected north Cumbria nearby emerged on Sunday (25 March).

This has raised fears that the disease may run out of control among sheep which graze freely on the fells unless it is quickly controlled.

Lake District National Park boss Bob Cartwright described the eruption of foot-and-mouth in fell flocks as a “doomsday scenario”.

Removing hefted ewe flocks – bred specially to remain on upland farms – from the fell would quickly destroy the Lake District landscape, he said.

Mr Cartwright called for a rapid cull of ewes, the closure of all fell roads that cross unfenced grazings and possible vaccination for remaining flocks.

Meanwhile, farmers leaders have called for more Army personnel needed to be mobilised to provide extra help on the organisational side of the operation.

Cumbria farmer Les Armstrong, who represents farmers in the crisis task force, said help was needed to cope with what was a massive operation.

“We still have animals lying dead on farms that were shot last Tuesday,” he said. “That is not acceptable.”

Mr Armstrong said it was often taking three days to slaughter following confirmation of foot-and-mouth and up to seven days to burn the carcasses.

He expressed a hope that ministers would appreciate the stoicism shown by farmers prepared to sacrifice their sheep for the pre-emptive cull.

Some 694 cases of foot-and-mouth had been confirmed by 10.00 on Wednesday (28 March), of which almost 270 were in Cumbria.

Foot-and-mouth – confirmed outbreaks

Foot-and-mouth – FWi coverage

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