NSA issued a press release this week reminding the farming community of the importance of looking out for fellow farming friends and family this January as the start of the year has presented several challenges to the industry.
Concerns from bluetongue (BTV) and Schmallenberg viruses (SBV), and weather challenges including flooding and most recently snow in areas of the UK, will have caused for some a difficult few weeks.
Phil Stocker comments: “NSA recognises that in particular ongoing concerns regarding these impactful and devastating diseases are cause for worry amongst sheep farmers in several parts of the country. Bluetongue was grabbing most of the headlines at end of 2023, being seen as a big risk for the future but seemingly out of nowhere came SBV affecting an increasing number of sheep farms across many English regions. NSA has heard from technicians involved in taking semen and embryos for export, scanners, early lambers, and the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), that SBV cases are quite serious with scanners reporting numbers of dead lambs and early lambers saying they are losing between 10 - 25% of lambs in some cases.”
Positive BTV strain 3 cases continue to be found in and around the control zones in Kent and Norfolk and the total number of positive cases this week now stands at 52 positive animals, 4 of which are sheep and 48 of which are cattle. On Monday evening, NSA joined an important industry meeting in Norfolk, giving Defra and APHA a chance to talk to farmers and listen to questions and concerns regarding the current situation. Dan Phipps, recently retired NSA Chair co-chaired the meeting attracting more than 400 farmers demonstrating the impact of BTV-3 in the area. Further meetings are now planned with a host of organisations, including NSA, working in partnership to try to drive efficiency and consistency. Phil adds: “This is not a time for various organisations to be doing their own thing and in my mind it makes sense to work together for the benefit of the entire livestock industry.”