Messages of support for farmer

BLUETONGUE could already be lurking in herds of dairy cattle across the area, the owner of the under-siege Baylham House rare breeds farm warned today.

BLUETONGUE could already be lurking in herds of dairy cattle across the area, the owner of the under-siege Baylham House rare breeds farm warned today.

Dick Storer revealed that a second cow to be infected with the disease had shown no symptoms before tests came back positive yesterday morning.

Lorraine, an Old Gloucester, was put down straight away and Mr Storer said: “Lorraine had nothing wrong with her. This could be all over the place with no one knowing about it.”

Mr Storer said his family had been overwhelmed by messages of support and sympathy since the news about the bluetongue crisis broke at the weekend.

He said: “We have had lots of e-mails and messages of support. I have had 50 I have been unable to reply to at the moment - they have come from all over the world, from South Africa and France.”

He was preparing to put up a new message on the farm's website thanking people for their support at this difficult time and pledging to reopen its gates to the public as soon as possible.

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Mr Storer said: “Once all the livestock is checked there is no reason why we cannot reopen - there is no danger to the public from this disease.”

Officials from the government's Department of the Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) are having to check all the livestock on the farm.

Mr Storer added: “We have 170 sheep, then there are goats, cattle, and three alpacas. They all have to be tested and that takes time.”

He praised the work of the DEFRA officials and the police, although he said some of the political decisions at the top had been rather vague in the first instance.

Baylham House rare breeds farm is a popular location for school visits and other trips by children's groups.

And over the last few days youngsters have been thinking about the plight of the animals they have seen during their visits there.

Baylham is in the catchment area of Claydon Primary School, and its young pupils have been on visits to the farm to find out about the animals.

Headteacher Jane Brown said the pupils had talked about the bluetongue outbreak in assembly and had seen how the area had been in the news.

She said: “They are quite interested and are a bit sad about it all - but we have emphasised the message that this disease is not something that people can catch.”

About 10 youngsters at the school come from Baylham and they had talked about what it was like to see their village featuring in national news stories.

Tests for bluetongue are being conducted on farm animals and midges in Suffolk to see if the virus, which is transmitted by biting insects, has spread.>

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