the bluetongue mess

Yesterday, we vaccinated seven calves against Bluetongue (BT) disease. This is the eighth time since May that Jethro  has had to get the cattle in to vaccinate against this hideous disease. We were one of the first areas to be given the vaccine and owing to the fact that the cows calve steadily through the spring and summer months it has meant batching the calves and doing a few at a time, and then repeating 3 – 4 weeks later with the second booster dose on each calf. It is not an easy task, but one we take seriously and I wish that all the nation’s livestock keepers and policy makers were of the same mind.

The country is in a mess over the vaccinating programme, as devolved Scotland has decided so far not to vaccinate, despite the National Beef Association petition [please sign].

Wales and the north of England [ Cumbria and Northumberland ]are this month able to vaccinate and yet many individuals are dithering over whether to do so as they worry over potential trading difficulties with Scotland and other areas. However, in July, we were offered steers to buy from Lincolnshire and we turned them down as they were not vaccinated. The vendor was not bothered stating clearly that because others had vaccinated he did not need to. We have a lot of midges and whether there is BT around here or not*, we choose to vaccinate all our cattle and sheep, and we do not want to jeopardise our animals’ health and well-being by bringing in un-vaccinated ones. The new born calves get some immunity in the antibodies from the colostrum [first milk] until we are able to immunize them individually. [* DEFRA should do further testing across the country so we know if there is an underlying problem with BT infection or not. However the test must be able to discern the difference between either infection related antibodies or a stimulated response following vaccination. Clarification here]

Britain is a small country and to protect our livestock we need to be totally united, as we and all our livestock all reside TOGETHER on one island there should be one policy and devolution should be overruled.

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Filed under Country Life, food and farming, rural musings, Politics

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