Farmers welcome revised bluetongue rules

Livestock farmers have welcomed Europe's decision to impose tougher restrictions on imported cattle and sheep from bluetongue regions.Britain has been declared a lower risk zone for BTV8, it has been confirmed.

Livestock farmers have welcomed Europe's decision to impose tougher restrictions on imported cattle and sheep from bluetongue regions.

Britain has been declared a lower risk zone for BTV8, it has been confirmed. From June 12, any bluetongue susceptible animals from bluetongue infected countries must meet more stringent vaccination conditions before importation.

The rules requires animals to be vaccinated at least 60 days in advance, plus a further test 14 days after the onset of immunity or a booster vaccination within the time period of immunity. Pregnant animals must also meet vaccination conditions before insemination or mating.

Critically, the change in status does not affect the ability of keepers in GB to vaccinate their stock.


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The joint industry campaign, JAB, said that livestock keepers will benefit greatly from the decision. It will protect Britain's livestock and allow further vaccination and also exports to continue.

John Mercer, spokesman for JAB, said: "This move to a lower risk zone imposes tighter controls on animals brought into the country from BTV8 protection zones and will help keep disease out. This is absolutely crucial as it ensures that bluetongue will not return to this country through animal moves from those areas.

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"There are two main ways bluetongue will enter Britain, either through wind-borne incursion of infected midges or imported animals.

"While we are limited in our ability to control the wind-borne threat we are able to reduce the risk of incursion via imported stock. We have seen imports levels rise dramatically in the last six months and this move to tighten up controls is vital in protecting the livestock sector and will hopefully help us one day meet our aim of gaining disease-free status.

"As part of the approval process Defra will have to carry out monthly surveillance and take blood samples from stock across the south of England. Although this is excellent news, we must not become complacent."

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