Vaccination against bluetongue will be voluntary in Scotland next year. The decision, agreed with the farming industry, follows the success of the compulsory vaccination campaign during 2009.
Vaccination against livestock disease bluetongue will be voluntary in Scotland next year. The decision, agreed with the farming industry, follows the success of the compulsory vaccination campaign in 2009.
Making the announcement during a visit to Aikeyside Farm in Haddington today (December 17), cabinet secretary for rural affairs Richard Lochhead said: “A disease-free herd is vital to maintaining Scotland’s international reputation for quality, which in turn boosts exports and profitability. Thanks to the joint efforts of the Scottish Government and the industry we are in a much more favourable position now than we were last year in relation to bluetongue.”
“There was a high level of compliance with the compulsory campaign and this was complemented by the responsible actions of farmers when sourcing animals from abroad.
The 2009 compulsory vaccination campaign against Bluetongue BTV8 was funded in part by the Scottish Government. Compliance with the compulsory vaccination campaign was around 94 per cent. Compulsory vaccination was suspended on October 25 2009 when the winter period began, and the risk of transmission by midges disappeared.
However, Mr Lochhead added: “Vaccination is still encouraged, especially for breeding animals which may be exposed to infection in future years. Farmers should take the advice of their own vet when deciding whether and when to vaccinate.”
Scotland’s chief vet Simon Hall said: “Responsible sourcing remains very important, particularly when we enter the new transmission season in the spring. For my part, I will continue to keep the bluetongue situation under regular review at home and abroad. I will provide further information to farmers and their vets if the level of risk changes.”
NFU Scotland Vice-President, Nigel Miller added: “We are now seeing the dividend from the positive response of Scottish livestock farmers to the compulsory vaccination programme and the industry’s voluntary ban on importing animals from high risk areas. The responsible way in which Scottish Government and industry jointly tackled the threat of bluetongue provides a good model for countering such animal disease challenges in the future.
“Careful sourcing of any livestock brought on to a farm is good farming practice. Now that we are moving to a voluntary approach on bluetongue vaccination, livestock farmers will have greater responsibility for managing the risk posed by the disease.
“Although the risks of bringing in infected animals from bluetongue-affected areas of Europe are reducing, I urge Scottish farmers to continue to abide by the Scottish livestock industry’s voluntary winter and summer codes on importing animals. This will help preserve the excellent work done to keep this devastating disease out of Scotland and speed our return to recognised disease-free status.”