Friday, 14 September 2007

Foot and Mouth Disease

Well it's happened again only this time at a very important time for many livestock producers. Over the next month thousands of breeding sheep are due to be sold at auction all over the country. These sheep are born in April and spend the summer grazing the high moor areas of the UK before being brought off the fells and mountains and sold to 'lowland' sheep breeders (like us). These sheep are the main income for many hundreds of hill farmers and go to breed lamb the following year. Cattle farmers will also be weaning spring born calves at this time and they will usually be sold on to other farms for the winter. At the moment there is a complete shutdown on all movements of 'cloven hoofed' animals.

How does this affect us? We can't sell any lamb at the moment, lambs can't be taken to the abattoir and no sheep can be moved across any roads. We can't move the ewes to the stud, where they eat the grass for Simon. This works well for both of us in a normal year. The ewes chew down all the grass that the fussy horses leave. It also gets the ewes in good health ready to be mated. Will we have fewer lambs next lambing? Who knows watch this space.

Did the Government lift the restrictions too early? I didn't realise this but symptoms show in animals after 14 days but the virus can live in the soil, water and forage for up to 50 days!

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