Farms urged to order bluetongue vaccine

LIVESTOCK farmers in East Anglia have been urged to order stocks of bluetongue vaccine as soon as possible to protect their herds and flocks from the midge-borne disease.

LIVESTOCK farmers in East Anglia have been urged to order stocks of bluetongue vaccine as soon as possible to protect their herds and flocks from the midge-borne disease.

Norfolk farmer Roger Long, who has been at the forefront of the vaccination campaign, said this week: 'I think that farmers are more conscientious in this region, but I worry whether there is a degree of complacency creeping in.'

Mr Long, who is a member of the National Farmers' Union's regional livestock board, said some producers had questioned whether it was worth vaccinating again. And, at the last meeting of Aylsham Show's livestock committee, one or two farmers had asked: should we bother to vaccinate.

Having seen the impact of bluetongue disease at first hand on a visit to northern France in November 2007, Mr Long, of Scarning, stressed the importance of protecting cattle and sheep from the distressing disease.


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'We have the vaccine: we must use it to protect our stock,' he added.

The success of the campaign last year, when an estimated nine out of 10 farmers across eastern England had their stock vaccinated, helped to keep the virus at bay. 'It is vital that we don't let our guard down this year, so I'm urging every livestock keeper to vaccinate again,' said Mr Long.

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'The vets are now getting the new vaccine. Make sure that you've got your order with your vet and get the job done as soon as possible.'

Now was also an opportunity to check that stock had the right ear tags, he said, since inspectors from the Rural Payments Agency were taking a tougher line and enforcing stringent penalties.

David Ball, who runs Norwich Livestock Market and farms near Southwold, had just given all his out-wintered cows a bluetongue vaccine booster. 'We vaccinated 325 in one day and checked tags and then re-checked. We had TB tested exactly 12 months ago and found that more than 20 cows needed replacement tags. It is still frightening how many tags were missing; it was almost 7pc,' he added.

'Most people who have got their cattle inside have still got time to get their cattle vaccinated.'

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