Overcast

Overcast

max temp: 18°C

min temp: 10°C

Search

The pigs have arrived. See the latest

Pigs Gone Wild

news here.

Suffolk/Essex: Farmers’ fears of Schmallenberg Virus

13:06 06 February 2013

SCHMALLENBERG FEARS: These healthy lambs were born on a Suffolk farm

SCHMALLENBERG FEARS: These healthy lambs were born on a Suffolk farm

Archant

FARMERS in Suffolk and Essex have said they fear an outbreak of the deadly Schmallenberg Virus as they prepare for the peak of lambing season.

At least one incidence of the disease, which causes lambs and calves to be born stillborn or with severe abnormalities, has already been reported in the region this year.

The case comes as figures released by the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA), reveal that at least 26 sheep and cattle holdings in Suffolk have been affected by the condition since January 2012.

A further 17 herds and flocks in Essex have also had confirmed cases of the Schmallenberg.

It is possible that the number of cases is greater as the disease is “non-notifiable”, meaning although livestock owners are advised to contact vets with suspected infections, they are not obliged to do so.

The NFU has called for a vaccine to be made available for the virus, which is spread by midges, as soon as possible.

Chris Partridge, who has a flock of 110 breeding ewes in Kersey Tye, was affected by Schmallenberg last year and has already seen one ewe with the virus.

He added: “It is definitely a concern. We’ve lambed two sheep this year and we had a small group at Christmas and we had one case of Schmallenberg in that 15 ewes.”

Mr Partridge, who last year was forced to deliver a clutch of deformed and dead lambs, said he hoped that his main flock would have developed an immunity to the virus.

He added: “There has been a massive problem in other parts of the country - in the midlands and further across - but from my point of view, I am reasonably optimistic that we won’t be getting a problem this year.

“Scientists have told us that those sheep that have been infected in previous years should be immune. But we don’t know if all of the sheep have been affected so it is possible that some of them have lambs with Schmallenberg. We also don’t know if immunity is for life that is one of the main questions we are asking now.”

Gerald Ketley, who has 1,100 breeding ewes on land in Fingringhoe, near Colchester, said: “We are fearful yes. We have built up our flock again and they are in lamb but it is unknown whether we will suffer from Schmallenberg or not.

“We’re hearing lots of stories in northern parts where they are losing a considerable amount of lambs, up to 80%, through this. But at the moment, we haven’t seen massive problems down here.

“We don’t start lambing until the end of March and the start of April so we won’t know until we get nearer the lambing I suppose. We’re on tenterhooks. We have had about 50 lambs and we haven’t seen any problem with them but it is the unknown.”

Mr Ketley, who previously farmed around Colchester Market and Ipswich Road, added: “Because of the deformities and everything it is rather a worry. There is just nothing you can do about it. We just seem to go down with more and more issues and diseases.”

Andrew Foulds, Livestock manager of the Elveden Estate, lost 8% of his lambs to the virus last year. But speaking yesterday he said they had lambed 1,150 ewes without a trace of the virus. He added: “The Almighty has been good to us”.

James Coe of Layer Marney Lamb in Stanway, has 600 breeding ewes that are expected to lamb in March.

He said: “We didn’t have any cases of it last year, but we are obviously fearful of it. It is one of those things, you’re fearful of it because there is nothing you can do about it until we have a vaccine.”

A spokesman for the NFU said the presence of Schmallenberg is a “big concern.” He added: “This is why we want a vaccine to be made available as soon as possible. Hopefully it will be available later this year but that will be too late for this year’s lambing. We know from our experience with blue tongue that our farmers are very quick to make use of a vaccine when it is available.”

He added: “Even if only a small amount of farms are affected, it can have a serious financial impact on individual farms.”

A spokesman for Defra said a vaccine would be available soon but necessary safety checks had not yet been completed.

0 comments

Traffic lights at Wherstead Road bridge caused chaos.

Network Rail’s top manager in East Anglia has issued an unreserved apology after engineers working for his company brought Ipswich town centre to a standstill on Thursday evening.

Anyone with information is asked to call police on 101.

Help is needed to trace a man who approached a teenage girl as she walked home in Ipswich.

Faulkeners Way, in Trimley

Police want to trace a man with a blond quiff who pulled up alongside a 10-year-old boy in black panel van and spoke to him outside a play area in Trimley St Mary.

Gabriella Keating Fedders with her Pigs Gone Wild sculpture The Ham-Inator

The Pigs Gone Wild trail is live, opening up art to the public and a new generation as they wander round town spotting the elaborately decorated sculptures.

Borough councillor Richard Pope.

The emphasis of immigration during the last weeks of the referendum campaign has led to an increase in the amount of abuse being aimed a European workers on the streets of Suffolk, councillors in Ipswich have heard.

Dave Lock decompressing on the line

Scuba divers searching the first British warship to sink in the First World War have made a “remarkable” discovery.

An Abellio Greater Anglia train.   Picture: James Bass

Disruption to train services between Ipswich and Cambridge is expected to last until 6pm.

100 year old football fan Joyce Fisher gets a visit from Ipswich Town Players Luke Chambers and Cole Skuse. Also pictured with niece and nephew Ann Snook and David Moss

A lifelong Ipswich Town fan was given the perfect 100th birthday present yesterday – two kitted-out Blues players.

Man in court on pornography charges

An Ipswich businessman has appeared in court charged with outraging public decency, making more than 15,000 indecent images of children and having extreme pornography.

A fire appliance outside Debenhams

Debenhams’ department store on Ipswich Cornhill was evacuated at lunchtime on Friday after a fire alarm was triggered in a light fitting.

Most read

Most commented

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Topic pages

Streetlife

Newsletter Sign Up

Great British Life

Great British Life
MyDate24 MyPhotos24