Animal Health and Welfare

Fatal diseases on the rise in Europe, warns UFU

UFU Deputy President John McLenaghan, on his farm near Garvagh. Picture: Cliff Donaldson

With reports of fatal livestock diseases spreading at a rapid rate in Europe, the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) is urging farmers to be aware of the risks associated with importing live animals from overseas, to help safeguard Northern Ireland’s livestock industry.

Commenting, UFU deputy president John McLenaghan said, “In recent weeks a number of diseases are said to be circulating across Europe. A new strain of bluetongue was initially detected in Holland but has now spread into Belgium, and epizootic haemorrhagic disease has been detected in Southern France, having spread from Spain and Portugal.

“Whilst imports from Holland and Belgium are no longer possible as export conditions cannot be met due to the diseases circulating, local farmers need to be aware that animals originating from neighbouring jurisdictions could carry a significant risk. Should farmers buy in livestock from Europe, they need to be extremely cautious and report any possible signs of disease immediately.

“Farmers must also bear in mind that should their imported animals be infected by bluetongue or epizootic haemorrhagic disease, there is no compensation for animals that must be removed from the farm. This stresses the importance of protecting the herd and the farm business.”