It’s a dark day for the countryside. After giving the goat kids their last feed this evening, we came in to the dreadful news that Foot & Mouth Disease (FMD) has returned to the UK, with a confirmed outbreak at a farm in Surrey. How can this have happened? We are all in fear as to how far it may already have spread; but we can only watch the news, & wait, & hope…….
There’s a national ban in force to prevent all susceptible animal groups from being moved, which is a relief as during the previous outbreak nothing was done for days; causing the disease to spread very rapidly. A 3km Protection Zone has been established around the immediately affected area, with a 10km Surveillance Zone around that; it’s surprising just how much land this takes in, so hopefully it should prevent any further spread of the disease.
What foxes me somewhat, is that FMD does not transmit easily to humans, & when it does, produces only mild flu-like symptoms requiring no direct medical treatment; it cannot enter the food chain; & few animals actually die from the disease (although it can make dairy animals for example, unproductive as a result). So why is there such a clamour to kill any affected animals as soon as the disease is notified? Why can’t we just get on & vaccinate all susceptible livestock – surely that’s preferable to what happened in 2000, when a shocking 6.5 million animals were culled (& only 11,000 of those actually tested positive for the disease)? Come on, Governments – get a grip.
Luckily (well, unluckily I suppose for poor Porky) we sent one of the pigs to slaughter, this morning: Tony drove her the hour or so across country to Welsh Hook in Haverforwest & made sure she was blissfully ignorant that her final moments were – well, her final ones, I suppose – by making sure she had her happy snout in a bucket of yummy food when the end came. We had considered booking her in for next week, as we were so tired after haymaking; & this morning was an early start – Porky had to be loaded onto the trailer, at around 6am – but thank goodness we stuck with the original plan, because otherwise she’d be getting bigger, & fatter, whilst going nowhere; & we just don’t know when this horrible situation is going to end…….