Worrying times for livestock farmers

NEWS that a second cow has tested positive for bluetongue at Baylham House farm comes as a dreadful blow to owners Dick and Ann Storer - but it could have devastating implications for farmers across the area.

NEWS that a second cow has tested positive for bluetongue at Baylham House farm comes as a dreadful blow to owners Dick and Ann Storer - but it could have devastating implications for farmers across the area.

Lorraine, the second animal infected with the disease, showed now ill effects and no one would have known she had the disease had scientists not been testing the entire herd at the farm.

Which, of course, raises the possibility that other cattle in other herds could also be carrying the disease.

Taking blood samples of every beast is a long and laborious task - even on a comparatively small farm like Baylham House it has taken several days.

It would take much longer on a huge commercial livestock farm - and the fact is that it is totally impossible to catch every midge that might carry the disease.

What farmers will now be hoping for is a really cold winter to kill off the midges - but even if that does happen there is the real fear that the virus will hide in farm animals over the winter and can be spread again when the midges return in the spring.

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Bluetongue is already endemic in parts of Holland, Belgium, and northern France. Farmers, and whole communities, will be hoping that the quick action of DEFRA officials will eliminate it from this country before it gets a grip.

But realistically we will not know whether the battle has really been won until next spring - in the mean time everyone will hope Baylham House will soon be given the all-clear and people can return there for a good day out.

AFGHANISTAN is literally half a world away from our comfortable lives here in Suffolk, but our troops are out there doing a vital job in a dreadful part of the world.

In fighting the Taliban they are helping to ensure that this murderous group which kills teachers and encourages opium farmers never again takes control of the country.

But they need to know that at home they still have the support of the community - not just their own families and friends.

The Royal Anglians are now preparing to return home next month after a bruising tour of duty which has left several - including Ipswich teenager Aaron McClure - dead.

When the troops get back they need to know that we see them as heroes, that we are grateful for the sacrifices they have made to make this world a better place.

IPSWICH Town have not performed too well on their trips away from Portman Road over the last few months - but a visit to Hull's KC stadium on Saturday should not be too daunting after the Tractor Boys' 5-2 victory there in March.

However the fans have been dealt a rough hand after the match was brought forward to 12.30pm because the stadium is needed for a rugby league match in the evening.

That means an early start from Ipswich for the journey up the A1 - it will all seem worth it if the team can at last take their home form with them on the road.

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