Foot and Mouth

Just heard there's been a case reported in the SE, Kent I think. What's the betting half our races are hosed for the next six months?


  • It's actually Surrey - near Guildford and at present a 10K exclusion zone. I wouldn't mind if races were cancelled, footpaths closed etc. if it made any difference, but judging from last time it will only be guesture politics to show 'something is being done'.
  • Hmmm

    I have a number of estate meetings to attend to talk with my neighbours and tenants about this.

    I'll return to this evening and explain a few things about this from a farmers point of view (Provided I'm going to get a fair hearing - which I'm sure I will).
  • Cancelled races will be the least of many peoples worries.

    I hope to god they can contain it this time.
  • Spot on Slowboy.

    It's sad that race meetings might be cancelled, but what farming really doesn't need now is an outbreak of foot and mouth.

    I really hope this doesn't get bad.
  • Hopefully it will already have been contained.
  • Hope this doesn't spread and I dread seeing those funeral pyres again :o(
  • Hopefully won't be seeing any funeral pyres again, isn't there a vaccine against this disease?
  • popsiderpopsider ✭✭✭
    Hopefully they wont be going over the top cancelling all sorts of events this time too.
  • We can run on the roads. I've no problem giving up off road running & off road races in the interests of bio-security.
  • Popsider, if they went over the top in 2001 it's because too little was done too late and they - the powers that be - opted to regain face by clamping down on everything.

    Personally, if they do cancel all races through rural areas or on rural roads, then we should all put up with that for the sake of the farming community.

    Want to be eating low grade Brazillian or Argentine beef, or pathetic quality New Zealand lamb? No way!

    There is a vaccine and it's being distributed for a national programme just in case. That means that we won't be able to export - potentially - and this is a bad thing for the rural economy.

  • I was in Saudi Arabia in 2001 and the English language newspaper over there had a quote from a government spokesmen who said that as F and M was endemic in Saudi arabia there was no problem.

    I would be interested in knowing what the rationale behind that statement could be/
  • Radio 4 news says more cases :(
    DEFRA has interesting background info.
  • I would far rather they over reacted now and were proved wrong than later and proved right.
  • A farmer speaks (this may be a long post so bear with me)

    A number of points here that are worth answering.

    Firstly, I said this in 2001 and I'll say it again: Quite what the rationale is behind cancelling urban road races on the grounds of F&M is beyond me. There might be a small theoretical possibility of cross infection, but its so vanishingly unlikely that its frankly a waste of time.

    Johnny - F&M is endemic in a number of countries. However allowing it to become endemic in this country simply isn't an option. Animals don't die of F&M but they do become weakened and give lower yields. Its illegal under EU law to export even healthy carcasses from a county that has endemic F&M.

    210 I had a meeting with Defra officials in my capacity as estate manager, some months ago at which contigency plans for F&M were discussed. Environment minister Hilary Benn was present, and spoke eloquently about the plans for mass vaccination in the event of an outbreak being "out of control". When I asked him to define "out of control" he went a bit quiet, and when I explained that there were something like 3,500 sheep spread over the moors within a 25 mile radius of where we were sitting, and what were their plans to handle the logistics of mass vaccination of these animals, his minions almost gave birth on the spot.

    Bio security is essential, and has been at the heart of Defra advice for some time. All new animals coming onto a farm are supposed to be isolated for 6 weeks (the incubation period for the virus). At our meetings this morning all but one of my neighbours confirmed that they did this. The one who didn't was rounded on by the rest of us, and told in no uncertain terms to get his act together.

    Sadly increased bio security will mean some restrictions if the disease takes hold. I'm afraid history isn't on our side, and I doubt that this will be an isolated incident. Closure of local abbetoirs, and livestock markets means that animals are trugged up and down the country. The squeeze by the big supermarkets on margins means that livestock dealers will use the cheapest transporters and slaughterers and turn a blind eye to corner cutting in terms of basic hygene and husbandry. Even a moderate sized independant breeder like me will find himself dealing with folks all over the UK. I'm very very particular about who I do business with - but not everyone else is - or can afford to be.


  • There is some prima facea evidence that immediate complete access bans do help. In 2001 a number of areas did this, most notably Lincolnshire, and din't have any cases at all. Maybe they just got lucky though. Personally I'm not in favour at least at the outset, however the thought that the pair of boots walking past my window may have trodden in an infected cow pat somewhere will push me further in the direction the longer it goes on and the more widespread it becomes.

    People might say "But you will get compensation if you are affected" and yeas I would. However look at it this way. Say you had a thriving business that you'd built up from nothing, and suddenly one night the whole lot was destroyed in a fire - designs, blueprints, computers, backups - the lot. Sure you could replace everything, but the work you'd put in, all that innovation - you can't replace that.

    Its the same for me. The Birchinlea brand is unique. If I lose the stock it isn't just a matter of going along to the Sheep Shop and getting some newuns. I've put a lot of my life into those animals, and I don't want to see it dissapear down the plughole.

    Optimistically I'd say we might get clear of it in a couple of months if its been caught early enough and everyone plays their part. I'm afraid that might mean some pain for the running fraterinity.
  • popsiderpopsider ✭✭✭
    Just to clarify - I don't mind being banned from walking over FRs fields if it means less chance of this disease spreading - I do mind if they cancel the bike race I'm organising this September (as happened with the course last time there was an outbreak) and ban all sorts of road running events when from what I've read (and if someone can correct me fair enough) there is no evidence these sorts of measures are necessary or even helpful.
  • Thats what I thought you meant Popsider.
  • just watching the news now - they think it has leaked from the site where the antivirals are being made at Pirbright as it is the same strain

    hopefully means it is a very local outbreak but not good news for those affected
  • I should correct myself. I said Hilary Benn was the environment minister at the time. Of course he wasn't I meant David Milliband.
  • Oh no... what do you reckon that the 'Vaccines will eat your baby' woo crowd will jump all over this? >:(

    interesting parliamentary report & I thought this map was interesting.

    Pigs are the most infectious - hopefully it's a good thing that it seems to have started on a cow farm (last time was probably pig swill).

    I remember last time my grandparent's village shutting down - being an out-of-the-way sheep-farming hamlet nr Aberystwyth, at one point they did literally stick trees in the road to stop people driving in & out & risking infection. 'Twas scary hearing about it.
  • FR - your post was very interesting and informative, thank you. A very difficult time for you & all farmers. I only hope it is not as severe as last time.

  • Yes, do hope that outbreak is as suspected from research centre which means u=it should be contained.

    My comments re guesture politics was not about justfiable measures to restrict outbreak, but ridiculous ones such as wholesale shutting of footpaths - even closed one that crossed golf course to beach whilst leaving golf course open (and no there wasn't a farm for miles.) Also they have admitted that the contiguency culls were wasteful as by the time they were introduced the outbreak had been mainly contained.

    Yes, I know it was terrible for farmers and no amount of compensation can make up for losing a prized herd, but the last outbreak's panic measures meant a lot of leisure related businesses went bust and people lost jobs with no compensation whatsover.
  • Apologies bear - I wasn't having a pop at you - and I didn't mean to imply that farmers suffered alone.

    I'm also aware of the anti access facists that exists some of our landowning neighbours (Lord Huntin Shootin and fishin) are well knwon for closing access at the drop of a hat.

    I was just trying to illustrate the thing from my side of the gate so to speak.
  • Intreasting stuff.

    So bio leak? Someone is for the high jump.

    Small question. If the virus is airborne what is the point of just disinfecting the shoes? Just find that a bit odd.
    I can see practical from the stepped in cowsh*t point if view but what about dried sh*t on trousers etc?

    Also did you see the "Mountain" programme on BBC this evening(sunday)?
    Scarfell is now number one on runs to do!
  • Hmm I ran through many fields tonight including those with Sheep, Cows and one llama. The thought of empty fields is a bit worrying and a bit spooky.

    Does this mean that running x country could be banned in some or all areas?
  • Tr - my understandng s that vrus s only arborne from pgs. So dsnfectng after contact wth sheep cows etc s worth dong. Hazchem suts are a lot less practcal than bucets of dsnfectant.

    JB - last tme many footpaths were closed so 'd expect some restrctons f t spreads.
    There's a lot of footpath sgns whch 'dsappeared' never to return :(

    (sorry - computer eyboard s not worng properly - hope comprehensble).
  • TT

    Well I'm no virologist, so I couldn't speculate at what point infected dung no longer becomes a problem. The virus is airborne, but like the common cold it would only transmit itself in an airborne way over evry short distances. ie you migh catch a cold from someone sitting in the same office, but you wouldn't catch one (directly) from someone five miles away.

    I guess that if the virus did indeed eminate from this establishment It probably was released in pretty large quantities and from some sort of venting system. That would explain how it managed to travel so far. Its only speculation on my part, doubtless we'll get the answer at some point.

    The primary method of spread is movement of affected stock, followed by poor hygene and failure to observe bio security measures at either the farm gate, the transportation process, or the slaughterhouse. Spread by third parties is a significant danger, but not the biggest one. However it has to be addressed along with everything else.

    JB. If the virus spreads there would come a point at which it wouldn't be possible for sure to say whether an individual using a path hadn't, quite innocently, come into contact with the virus and were ergo moving it onto unaffected land. Similarly if transpired that the path you were using was in the vicinity of animals that were incubating F&M but hadn't yet shown symptoms, there would be a risk that you would carry the virus off to another unaffected area.

    That would be the point at which I would, regretfully, have to pull down the shutters. I simply couldn't take the risk of either getting the virus myself, or spreading it elsewhere. Thats the reason for having an isolation period for animals coming onto the farm. It wouldn't save my stock if they (the new animals)turned out to have F&M but it would prevent it getting to my neighbours.

    It really isn't something I'd want to do lightly. However I counted something like 50 walkers passing through my lower pasture yesterday (and I wasn't looking that hard). Thats where my animals spend the winter - I think you can see where I'm going.....

    No I didn't see the prog TT. I don't have a TV and they were all watching some other rubbish in the pub. Shame that.

  • Very informative, FR. I hope it comes nowhere near you and that any restrictions don't disrupt you too much.
Sign In or Register to comment.