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Herd restrictions imposed following disease outbreak

By Linda Stewart

Stringent herd restrictions have been imposed on a series of farms in the Keady area following an outbreak of brucellosis.





Agriculture Minister Michelle Gildernew has insisted the cattle disease will be stamped out — despite the “illegal efforts of a few self-serving individuals”. She has warned that wider restrictions on herds in the area may be needed.

Earlier this year police were called in after a number of sinister incidents — an infected calf foetus was left at the home of a DARD official, while another was found slashed open and sprinkled with cattle feed near a feeding trough at a Co Armagh farm.

Six herds have now been confirmed with brucellosis since the start of the year and more are expected, the minister said. Herd restrictions involve a movement ban of all female and breeding male bovines from herds in a control zone, except to slaughter.

“We know that we have the widespread backing of the farming community in our efforts to eradicate this disease. I am determined that the illegal activities of a few self-serving individuals do not undermine our efforts to eradicate brucellosis,” Ms Gildernew said.

“Since the beginning of the year we have seen six confirmed breakdowns in the area, with additional herds expected to confirm shortly. This has resulted in the depopulation of over 300 cattle so far. Some herds have had multiple reactors with a high likelihood of abortions at grass — hence wider restrictions for herds in the area are under consideration.

“There are indications that irresponsible and even criminal practices are at the heart of this cluster of infection, with decent farmers having to suffer the consequences.”

Ms Gildernew said the discovery of brucellosis on a farm carries a large economic cost, not only to the affected farmer but his neighbours.

“We will take all necessary measures when brucellosis is confirmed on any farm and I want to remind farmers that there will be a zero tolerance approach to all confirmed cases,” she said.

“Farmers must also realise the importance of notifying movements, births and deaths in a timely manner. This will ensure that the efforts we have made in the past to construct a world class cattle movements database are not compromised.

“Any information regarding illegal practices involving animals can be reported to my officials and I will ensure that it is vigorously followed up.”

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