The deadline to have all susceptible animals in Scotland vaccinated against bluetongue is fast approaching. With few exceptions, all cattle and sheep must be fully vaccinated by April 30.

As cattle require two doses a minimum of three weeks apart, all cattle should have received at least one dose by Thursday (April 9) to meet the deadline.

Richard Lochhead, cabinet secretary for rural affairs, said: “In 2008 the Scottish Government and stakeholder group agreed unanimously that a compulsory vaccination programme was the most effective way of protecting our livestock industry from this disease. To assist, this Government took the unprecedented step of paying half the manufacturing costs of the vaccine, over £2.6 million, in the first year.

“Almost 70 per cent of the eligible susceptible animals have been vaccinated so far, and 5.5million doses have been administered. With increasing numbers of animals now being brought in for lambing, calving and annual checks, we fully expect livestock in Scotland to be vaccinated within the stipulated deadline.

“Vaccination against BTV8 is an ongoing requirement and will involve young stock being vaccinated as and when they are old enough.

“Bluetongue remains a serious threat to Scotland’s livestock industry. It can cause high mortality in sheep, severe loss of condition and infertility. With that a farmer’s livelihood can very easily be seriously damaged.

“Scotland does not have bluetongue disease. With several strains present in Europe it is more important than ever to protect Scotland against an outbreak.

“It therefore remains crucial for all those in the industry to avoid sourcing stock from known bluetongue infected areas and do whatever they can to prevent introducing it to Scotland.”

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