After nearly seven months of fighting to keep our sheep flock alive, we have
today taken our first batch of lambs to the abattoir for slaughter. This
emphasises the division between breeding stock and fatstock that seems
beyond the understanding of some people today, so divorced has our society
become from the land that feeds us all. "They're going to be killed anyway,
so what's the fuss?" has been a common reaction to the slaughter during the
The lambs that have gone today were rams - and though Alan hates to admit
this, not many males are necessary in the cossetted lives of domesticated
sheep! One ram to thirty or forty ewes is a typical breeding ratio, but
roughly half of all lambs born are male, so the surplus is - well, surplus.
We have sold a few wethers (castrated rams) over the years as pets,
lawnmowers and wool producers, but most are destined for the table.
This meat is our harvest for the annual round of work with the sheep flock.
There is really no other way to farm most of our 16 acres of land, which is
unsuited to growing much except permanent pasture. We can't eat this, but
sheep can, and to crop their natural increase in numbers seems perfectly
reasonable to us.
The ewe lambs offer more choices. They may go as future breeding stock to
good homes, and we do keep one or two most years for our own flock. This
year we think they all deserve to live on.
# # #
The license and movement experience wasn't too bad. The abattoir needed a
few days notice for booking in. The license required a telephone call to
Trading Standards, who sent it first class post to arrive in good time. The
cleaning and disinfection procedures required by the license were
stringent - basically steam-cleaning of trailer inside and out, and towing
vehicle under wheel arches, followed by disinfection, but all this could be
done on-farm and no veterinary inspection was needed, so there was nothing
to pay up-front. After unloading at the abattoir, the livestock bedding
material was removed and the same C & D procedure carried out by
professionals on site, again at no charge. So while it took somewhat longer
than usual from start to finish, it wasn't too bad and wow! you should see
how clean our trailer is . . . . .
# # #
Our unrelenting pressure on DEFRA over re-stocking policy has now drawn some
belated movement on their part. Stella Beavan finally arranged a "risk
assessment" visit today from the vet supervising the re-stocking of our
neighbouring farm. This vet had a fair ear-bashing from us on arrival, but
to be fair, she did fully appreciate the injustice of "the policy" and
appeared keen to see what could be done in practical terms to remove the
element of risk to our sheep. We pored over maps and walked our unstocked
fields so that she could see the situation at first hand. Pacing out the
distances involved demonstrated that our flock is now 100 metres away from
the road boundary at its nearest point, with buildings, hedges and tall
trees between. She seemed to accept that there was no risk of airborne
spread in these circumstances, and left promising discussions with her
colleagues back at head office. There was an appreciation that principles
need to be established now, because clearly other premises will be placed in
a similar position as re-stocking continues. We have asked for written
confirmation that the measures we have reluctantly put in place remove any
question of contiguous culling being considered. Whether we receive this
remains to be seen.
THE HARROGATE DECLARATION
1. The current Foot and Mouth (FMD) outbreak differs from the 1967/68 UK
outbreak in that the expected 'tail off' has not occurred. It has defied the
Chief Scientist's prediction that the disease would be "successfully dealt
with" by early June. Instead we have experienced a levelling-off in which
recorded outbreaks since the height of the disease from early May onwards
have averaged between 2-4 cases per day. This steady state includes the
original hot spots of Cumbria and in addition the new outbreaks in the
Brecon Beacons, Settle, Thirsk and most recently Hexham.
The reason for the persistence of the disease, despite all efforts to
contain it, is currently not known. It is possible that the disease is
endemic in some hill flocks or in local wild life such as deer, hedgehogs or
rodents. Alternatively clinical manifestation of the disease of this
particular viral strain (Pan Asia serotype O) differs from its predecessors
in that the asymptomatic form may occur in cattle as it does in sheep. If
this were so then rapid identification, upon which the present policy
depends, is hindered and outbreaks of FMD would occur inevitably in advance
The policy of eradication by slaughter has proved insufficient to control
the disease and if it should persist the outbreaks of disease could rise
with the onset of the cooler weather - with no end in sight.
The only way to curtail the spread of the disease is to ring vaccinate
several miles outside each FMD epicentre and to cull or use additional
suppressive vaccination within the circle. It is probably necessary in
addition to use barrier vaccination to close off a region e.g. the North
East and across the Scottish border. Such vaccinated populations should
present an effective buffer to neutralise the virus and prevent further
2. The extensive cull has put at increased risk many rare and endangered
breeds and also domesticated breeds, not so officially classified, such as
the hefted sheep that are an integral part of many local ecosystems. This
amounts to an insupportable threat to the genetic diversity of our
domesticated and feral species susceptible to FMD. It also presents a threat
to the continued existence of low intensity farming methods and the rich
wild life habitat they support. Such a change to our traditional countryside
would be reflected adversely in the tourist industry.
Prophylactic vaccination is requested for rare and threatened pedigree stock
still at risk from FMD and in order to maintain a viable nucleus from which
to breed and repopulate.
3. FMD is endemic in the wild life in large areas of the world and it is
unrealistic with increased international food trade and travel to suppose
that we can support indefinitely, barrier-maintained susceptible populations
of animals. Outbreaks such as the present one in the UK are increasingly
likely, either unintentionally or from deliberate acts of "ecoterrorism". A
disease-free policy also constitutes a trade embargo with other, especially
developing parts of the world.
As a matter of urgency the EU should consider a return to its pre-1991
"Disease Free Status with Vaccination".
Declaration agreed at a meeting between Mr Edward McMillan - Scott MEP
(Yorks & Humber and leader of Conservative MEPs) Tel 07785 263007; Dr Susan
Haywood Ph D, BVSc, MRCVS, Senior Fellow in Veterinary Pathology, University
of Liverpool Tel 01748 886538; Mr Paul Roger, BSc, MSc, BVet Med, MRCVS,
Veterinary Practitioner, Swaledale Tel 01748 884620; Dr Verner Wheelock Ph
D, BSc, B Agr. FIFST. Special Professor in Food Science, University of
Nottingham Tel 01535 636008.
Sue.Haywood@freenet.co.uk Firs Farm,Keld, N. Yorkshire DL11 6LS
Emcmillan@europarl.eu.int 1 Ash Street, Poppleton Rd, York YO26 4UR
firstname.lastname@example.org Mr Paul Roger, BSc, MSc, Bvet Med, MRCVS,
Veterinary Practitioner, Swaledale
email@example.com Dr Verner Wheelock, Archway Court, Broughton Hall,
Skipton, North Yorkshire BD23 3AE
Theresa sends us this contribution:
* Jane Barribal- we agree with her comments re the tragedies in US. We as
a nation do continue to perpetrate terrible acts both locally and globally,-
but they are justified by saying 'there is no alternative'!
* Welfare Cull. Our neighbour, the largest sheep farm in Europe has said
that their ram lambs etc will go into the 'welfare cull. There will be
thousands of animals and this seems quite immoral. I am uncertain whether
blood tests are involved in these culls. I object strongly to our 70 odd
ram lambs being killed for nothing, with a mere #10 compensation for each.
There is famine and starvation in many parts of the world. Would any aid
agency help, eg OXFAM, war on want (does it still exist? they used to help
me!), even Compassion in World Farming. Could they not get properly killed
lamb to needy countries?
Our comment: Does anyone have any personal contacts within an international
aid agency that could take up this suggestion and run with it? It seems
very good sense to us. Alternatively, we could even eat them in this
country and send the New Zealand lamb to charitable causes instead of
importing it - thus saving on transport costs!
From The Times:
Outbreak inquiry to query warning system
BY VALERIE ELLIOTT, COUNTRYSIDE EDITOR
A NEW early warning system for the Government to identify animal disease
threats is likely to emerge from a scientific investigation into the
Sir Brian Follett, the zoologist heading the Royal Society inquiry, said
yesterday that he wanted to discover what the "early radar" procedures were
and how they could be improved to prevent new diseases entering the country.
He said that the inquiry would take into account the potential threats from
international travel by people, animals - including pets - and worldwide
trade. Besides foot-and-mouth disease, he would look at the threats from
swine fevers and a cattle disease known as blue tongue, which is carried by
In addition, David King, the Government's chief scientific adviser, and Jim
Scudamore, the Chief Veterinary Officer, are to be asked to explain their
resort to slaughter instead of vaccination to combat foot-and-mouth.
Vaccination is to be at the core of the inquiry report. Fred Brown, a
leading expert who has been one of the strongest advocates of vaccination to
combat the epidemic, has agreed to join the 15-member inquiry team.
Sir Brian said yesterday that the committee's conclusions on vaccination
would be the main points of interest for ministers and civil servants, who
had asked for this independent scientific assessment.
However, he said he was neutral on the vaccination issue. "There are clearly
quite disparate opinions on the efficiency of vaccination, the quality of
vaccines and a number of other issues associated with vaccination," he said.
The inquiry team, which includes a hill farmer from Cumbria and two vets who
have been involved in the recent outbreak, is to start work next month. Sir
Brian called for views on the scope of the inquiry - the scientific
questions it should address and the diseases it should cover. He hoped many
interested parties would take part in the debate.
And from the Warmwell website:
B: Members of the Committee
Professor Sir Brian Follett (Chairman) FRS
University of Oxford and former Vice Chancellor of the University of Warwick
Mr Peter Allen
Professor Patrick Bateson FRS
Provost of King's College, University of Cambridge, Biological Secretary of
Mr David Black
Professor Fred Brown FRS
US Department of Agriculture, Plumb Island Animal Disease Centre
Mr Roger Eddy
Senior Vice President of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, and
Ms Suzi Leather
Deputy Chair, Food Standards Agency
Professor Simon Levin
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University
Professor Karl Linklater
Principal, Scottish Agricultural College
Ms Jeanette Longfield
Co-ordinator of Sustain
Professor Ian McConnell
Dept of Clinical Veterinary Medicine, University of Cambridge
Dr Angela Maclean
Department of Zoology, University of Oxford
Professor Andrew McMichael FRS
Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, University of Oxford
Dr Jenny Mumford
Animal Health Trust, Newmarket
Professor Robin Weiss FRS
Windeyer Institute of Medical Science, University College London
Mr Geoffrey Findlay
Inquiry Secretary, The Royal Society
Talking of inquiries, we have featured before the forthcoming Public Inquiry
initiated by Devon County Council, but here's a reminder as time is running
short - submissions must be received by 28th September.
The Inquiry will conduct a series of public meetings at County Hall, Exeter
between October 8th and 12th, and invite evidence from anyone affected by
The Council can be contacted electronically via www.devon.gov.uk or by
ringing 01392 383444 to request an information pack.
Please respond to this initiative, it may be our only chance to have a
"real" public inquiry!
Finally, in response to Val's suggestion that we should exchange jokes to
cheer ourselves up, Jane sends this offering (it's best read aloud):
AS JOKES GO, I'VE ALWAYS THOUGHT THIS ONE TO BE RATHER PROFOUND:
It's a hot day, and a very thirsty piece of string is walking down the road.
He goes into a pub, reaches the bar and orders " A pint of beer please."
Barman " Are you string?"
String "Yes I am"
Barman "Well you can leave right now, we don't want any trouble from your
The string leaves, and goes into the bar across the road.
String " Could I have half a pint of beer please, if it's not too much
Barman " You look like you could be string, get out of my bar."
The string leaves, and tries the cafe next door.
String " A cup of tea would be lovely!"
Waitress " We don't serve string."
The string is getting desperate now, so he hides down an alley, twists
himself up, and fluffs his ends out. He goes back into the first pub.
String " I'd really like a pint of beer please"
The barman takes a long hard look at him.................
Barman " You're string, aren't you!"
String " No I'm afraid not!"
Our comment: OUCH!!!!!!
And in similar vein, this comes from Graham:
I received the following from a colleague who received it from a colleague
Some are variations which you have circulated previously, but some may may
PS Keep up the good work.
You have two cows. Your lord takes some of the milk.
You have two cows. The government takes both, hires you to take care of
them, and sells you the milk.
You have two cows. Your neighbours help you take care of them, and you
share the milk.
You have two cows. You have to take care of them, but the government
all the milk.
You have two cows. The government takes both and shoots you.
You have two cows. The government takes both and drafts you into the
You have two cows. All your neighbours decide who gets the milk.
You have two cows. Your neighbours pick someone who will tell you who
You have two cows. The government fines you for keeping two unlicensed
farm animals in an apartment.
The government promises to give you two cows, if you vote for it. After
the election, the president is impeached for speculating in cow futures.
press dubs the affair 'Cowgate', but supports the president. The cow
you for breach of contract. Your legal bills exceed your annual income.
You settle out of court and declare bankruptcy.
You have two cows. You feed them sheep's brains and they go mad. The
government doesn't do anything.
You have two cows. At first the government regulates what you can feed
them and when you can milk them. Then it pays you not to milk them.
that it takes both, shoots one, milks the other and pours the milk down
the drain. Then it requires you to fill out forms accounting for the
You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull. Your herd multiplies,
the economy grows. You retire on the income.
HONG KONG CAPITALISM
You have two cows. You sell three of them to your publicly-listed
using letters of credit opened by your brother-in-law at the bank, then
execute a debt/equity swap with associated general offer so that you get
all four cows back, with a tax deduction for keeping five cows. The milk
rights of six cows are transferred via a Panamanian intermediary to a
Cayman Islands company secretly owned by the majority shareholder, who
right to all seven The annual report says that the company owns eight
cows, with an option on one more. Meanwhile, you kill the two cows
bad 'feng shui'.
You have two cows. The government takes them and denies they ever
Milk is banned.
You are associated with (the concept of 'ownership' is a symbol of the
phallocentric, warmongering, intolerant past) two differently aged (but
less valuable to society) bovines of non- specified gender. You are torn
by feelings of guilt, your psychotherapist recommends a treatment
You spend six weeks getting in touch with your inner self and graduate
You have two giraffes. The government requires you to take harmonica
Please send more jokes for tomorrow.
Thank you and goodnight!
from Alan & Rosie