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Foot and Mouth Disease

 

Exemptions for 'rare' breeds of sheep and goats, other flocks and herds of high genetic value, and hefted sheep

Background

1. The Government published proposals aimed at providing protection for moorland and rare breeds of sheep in England and Wales on 19 April. Those proposals were widely welcomed, and the Minister announced that we would proceed with them on 26 April. The Joint Instruction on slaughter on contiguous premises issued on 27 April incorporated summary instructions on the treatment of hefted and rare breeds of sheep. It indicated that further guidance would be issued on the details of this. That further guidance has now been sent to Divisional Veterinary Managers (DVMs). The guidance takes account of the points made in response to the consultations. It also extends the arrangements to rare breeds of goat and herds of goats of high genetic value, as a number of owners of goats argued for this.

2. The objective of the arrangements is to preserve rare breeds of sheep and goats, and small breeding nuclei of sheep and goats of other breeds, of high genetic value, and hefted flocks of any breed whose survival is necessary to preserve the statutorily protected ecology and landscape of moorland areas, where this can be done without significantly prejudicing the control of FMD. Where a hefted flock is involved the flock will be dealt with as such, rather than as a rare breed. Applicants for exemption may utilise the risk assessment criteria published by the National Sheep Association, but this is not obligatory provided that the required information set out in paragraph 4 or 15 is provided.

'Rare' breeds and high genetic value flocks and herds

3. Rare breeds are as defined in Category 1-4 of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust*. Other breeds for which owners may be able to make a case for exemption include those in RBST Category 7 (minority breeds), and pedigree sheep or goats of high genetic value of any breed.

4. Owners of relevant flocks of sheep and herds of goats in infected areas who seek exemption should submit application to the DVM as soon as possible after receiving notification of intention to slaughter the flock, setting out:

  1. Breed (Since the objective is to preserve flocks/herds of high genetic value, only applications relating to pedigree stock should be made).
  2. Description of present flock/herds.
  3. Description of sheep or goats they wish to be exempted. In most cases these should be a nucleus breeding unit but in the case of rare breeds it might comprise the whole breeding flock/herd. The purpose of the exemption is to preserve valuable genetic material in sufficient quantities to ensure successful survival of the breed, not whole flocks/herds of sheep and goats. The exempted flock/herd should be no bigger than needed to meet this objective. The rest of the flock/herd must be slaughtered.
  4. Scientific justification for exemption.
  5. Any evidence of scrapie genotype of sheep to be exempted. An applicant will not be refused exemption only because the sheep are untested or are scrapie susceptible. Where possible scrapie resistant genotypes should be so noted.
  6. Map and plan of premises where exempted sheep or goats are to be held. This may be where the sheep or goats now are, if the requirements of paragraph 5 can be met, or elsewhere in the same Infected Area. However sheep and goats will not be allowed to move off their home premises within 15 days of the completion of preliminary cleansing and disinfection (C & D) of the most recent infected premises within 3km.
  7. Formal written agreement that the flock/herd will be slaughtered if serological evidence of exposure to FMD virus is found, or if FMD is confirmed in other animals on the premises.

5. The premises on which exempted sheep or goats are held must be:

  1. Separated from other premises by a stock proof perimeter fence.
  2. Arranged so that the exempted sheep or goats are always at least 50 metres from susceptible livestock on adjoining premises. This may be arranged by fencing within the boundary of the exempted premises.
  3. provided with C& D facilities for staff and visitors entering or leaving.
  4. provided with self contained facilities for handling and managing the flock/herd.

6. 15 days after preliminary C&D of the most recent Infected Premises within 3km of the premises, movements may be allowed to exempted premises which have been approved for the purpose elsewhere in the Infected Area. Such movements must be under licence, issue of which will be conditional on effective biosecurity at loading and unloading and during the movement.

7. The person looking after the sheep or goats must be identified and have no contact with other FMD susceptible stock and take full C & D precautions on entry and departure.

8. After establishment (normally by selection from the original flock/herd) the retained flock/herd would remain closed, with no movements in or out, while the premises remain in an infected area. The rest of the flock/herd must be slaughtered.

9. Owners of all exempted sheep and goats must ensure that they are individually identified and that records are kept.

10. After an acceptable application has been received by the DVM a temporary registration letter will be issued.

11. Before registration as an exempted flock/herd the DVM will arrange for blood samples to be taken from all the sheep or goats covered by the application, and submitted for serological testing at Pirbright; those tests must have negative results. A clinical inspection for signs of FMD will be made whilst samples are being collected. If serology results are negative the registration will be confirmed.

12. The exempted sheep and goats should be inspected daily by the person looking after them, and veterinary advice sought if there is any suspicion of disease.

13. The DVM will arrange for all sheep and goats to be inspected and blood sampled 14 days after the first blood samples are taken and the samples submitted to Pirbright for testing, using the same procedures as for the initial sampling.

Hefted Flocks

14. Only genuinely hefted flocks will qualify for exemption.

15. Owners of relevant flocks of sheep in infected areas are encouraged to submit applications for exemption from slaughter as soon as possible to the DVM setting out:

  1. Written confirmation that the flock for which exemption is sought is 'hefted'.
  2. A map of the premises showing the location of the hefted flock, any in-by sheep and listing any premises where sheep are currently away grazing.
  3. Details of the flock to be exempted. This should include breeds, numbers, locations etc.
  4. Details of flock management including regular movements between hill and in-bye land, and the use of remote winter grazing.
  5. The biosecurity measures that will apply eg no visitors, staff not leaving the farm or coming into contact with other livestock. Vehicles and equipment must be cleaned and disinfected before entry and departure.
  6. Formal written agreement that the flock will be slaughtered if serological evidence of exposure to FMD virus is found (if evidence is found only in sheep still at winter grazings, only those sheep need be destroyed. If evidence is found only in the inbye or hill flock, sheep away at winter grazing may be exempt if seronegative).

16. After an acceptable application has been received by the DVM a temporary registration letter will be issued.

17. Before registration as an exempted flock the DVM will arrange for blood samples to be taken from the in-bye flock and submitted for serological testing at Pirbright; those tests must have negative results. This will be a statistical bleed by management group to give 95% confidence of detecting 5% prevalence of infection in the in-bye flock. Sheep on the hill or at winter grazing will not be tested or inspected at this stage, but there should be no movement between sections after blood samples have been taken from the in-bye flock until an exemption letter has been issued (see para 18). Any movements should then be in accord with the procedure set out in para 20.

18. Once negative results have been received the DVM will confirm that the flock is exempted from the cull.

19. The sheep should be inspected regularly by the person looking after them, and veterinary advice sought if there is any suspicion of disease.

20. No exempted sheep may be moved from the in-bye flock to the hill, or from winter grazing to the in-by flock or hill, unless blood samples, with negative results, are taken immediately before movement. Sampled sheep must be individually identified. Applications to move sheep must be made to the DVM who will arrange for an LVI to carry out the required blood sampling and licence the movement on receipt of negative test results.


Appendix

RARE BREEDS OF SHEEP AND GOATS : RBST LISTS

Category Breeds
SHEEP  
1. Critical Boreray, Castlemilk Moorit
2. Endangered Galway, Leicester Longwool, Norfolk Horn,
Teeswater, Whitefaced Woodland
3. Vulnerable Balwen, Cotswold, North Ronaldsay, Portland,
Soay
4. At Risk Dorset Down, Greyface Dartmoor, Hill Radnor,
Lincoln Longwool, Llanwenog, Manx Loghtan,
Shropshire, Southdown, Wensleydale
7. Minority Hebridean, Kerry Hill, Oxford Down, Ryeland,
Shetland, White Face Dartmoor, Wiltshire Horn
GOATS  
Critical Bagot
Vulnerable Golden Guernsey

 

 

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