Farmers offer support to Baylham

TODAY farmers around Suffolk and across the country were waiting anxiously for news of whether another devastating virus could hit their animals.While farmers in Surrey play a wait and see game to know whether foot and mouth will affect their herds, sheep and cattle farmers in Suffolk wait for news of bluetongue - the new deadly virus which has seen swathes of animals die across Europe.

TODAY farmers around Suffolk and across the country were waiting anxiously for news of whether another devastating virus could hit their animals.

While farmers in Surrey play a wait and see game to know whether foot and mouth will affect their herds, sheep and cattle farmers in Suffolk wait for news of bluetongue - the new deadly virus which has seen swathes of animals die across Europe.

Debbie, the highland cow at Baylham House Rare Breeds Farm, once one of their most popular beasts who would wait to be fed by visitors has become the focus of a massive investigation attracting media interest from across the world.

Fiona Kerr from Easton Farm Park said she felt very sorry for Richard and Ann Storer at Baylham House.

She said: “They care very deeply for all their animals, they are all like family pets and it must have been dreadful for them to have their highland cow put down.

“It must be devastating for them - but this is a disease that has been sitting on the other side of the North Sea for some time now and we had feared it would get across eventually.

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“I don't know how you can stop the midges. I know a lot of people will be hoping for a cold winter to kill them off.”

Tom Walne farms between Ipswich and Claydon, and said the bluetongue outbreak was very worrying - especially coming after the foot and mouth crisis.

He said: “What can you do to stop the midges? It's a real worry but there isn't much we can do except keep an eye on our stock.

“My red poll cattle are over at Nettlestead and that's very near Baylham. I can't bring them back anyway because of the foot and mouth restrictions.

“I'm really sorry that this has happened at Baylham because places like that are vital to educate young children about where there food comes from.

Mr Storer first noticed something wrong with Debbie on Monday, and feared it could be foot and mouth.

By Thursday there was relief that it was not the case, but on Friday it was revealed she had bluetongue a disease spread by midges that have blown over from the continent.

Professor Peter Mertens, of the Institute of Animal Health (IAH), who are carrying out the tests into other animals in the area said that the disease has spread rapidly across Europe during the last year and at the last count there had been 10,000 outbreaks across the north of the continent.

He said: “On the continent there will be millions of infected midges.

“If one blows over here it is likely that several did.

“Right now we are in a position where one animal is infected.

“We have no evidence of further transmission. If we are very lucky maybe it will stay like that.

“Having said that most cattle don't show any signs of the infection. We have to ask the question is this the only cow or are there more who have it?”

n. Are you concerned about the news? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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