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Confirmed cases of Schmallenberg rising
sheep and lamb
"It is important that we ascertain the true levels of the virus, because this will help determine whether there is a need to vaccinate later in the year."
Farmers urged to submit lambs for post-mortem
 
Confirmed cases of Schmallenberg virus are rising, prompting a call for farmers to submit lambs for post-mortem examination.

SBV was found in lambs in the south west of England last month, and subsequently in North Yorkshire and on four holdings in the North East of England.

Schmallenberg can infect pregnant sheep and cattle, causing severe malformations of foetuses in the womb. It does not spread from animal to animal but, like bluetongue, is transmitted by infected midges.

The virus emerged across Western Europe in November 2011 and by July 2013, calves, lambs and kids with severe skeletal deformities had been reported in at least 24 European countries.

Ben Strugnell, of Farm Post Mortem Ltd, commented: The possible re-emergence of Schmallenberg was predicted following a study in autumn 2015 which tested young flock replacement sheep in the south of England, the results of which suggested that levels of immunity may have dropped.”

Mr Strugnell urged producers to submit lambs with skeletal deformities for post-mortem examination so that the cause can be confirmed. “The best advice for producers is to contact their vet, who can provide information on the best way to arrange a post-mortem,” he continued.

“Blood sampling of ewes which have affected lambs is also useful. Younger sheep may be most at risk as older ones may be immune from previous exposure to the virus.”

There is currently no available vaccine for Schmallenberg and Mr Strugnell said it is already too late to vaccinate sheep that are due to lamb in spring.

“However, it is important that we ascertain the true levels of the virus, because this will help determine whether there is a need to vaccinate later in the year,” he concluded.

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Nominations for 2019 RSPCA Honours Awards now open

News Story 1
 People across the UK are being urged to nominate a standout animal champion for the 2019 RSPCA Honours Awards.

The awards recognise those who have worked tirelessly to improve animal welfare, campaigned on behalf of animals, or shown true bravery. Previous winners include comedian John Bishop, who was awarded Celebrity Animal Champion of the Year, and 11-year-old Lobby Cantwell, who raised more than £1,000 for the charity through mountain climbs and bike rides.

To submit a nomination or find out more about the awards visit the RSPCA website. Nominations will remain open until 4 pm on Friday, March 15.  

Click here for more...
News Shorts
New £1m project to investigate dairy cow lameness

Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) is leading a new £1 million research project to investigate the causes of lameness in dairy cows.

One in three dairy cows are affected by lameness every day in the UK, costing the industry an estimated £250 milion annually.

The project will take three years to complete and is due to finish by November 2021.

Professor Georgios Banos of SRUC commented: “In addition to pain and discomfort to the animal, lameness is associated with decreased milk production and inflated farm costs.

“Among cows raised in the same environment, some become lame while others do not. Understanding the reasons behind this will help us develop targeted preventive practices contributing to enhanced animal welfare and farm profitability.”