Mild weather warning for livestock producers

Mild spring temperatures mean that the need to vaccinate livestock against bluetongue is now “critical”, said Wales’ chief veterinary officer.

Dr Christianne Glossop issued the stark warning after temperatures hit 15˚C, a key temperature which is recognised to raise midge activity and enable the bluetongue virus to replicate.

“The mild conditions are perfect for bringing out midges and allowing the bluetongue virus to flourish. All susceptible animals are under increasing risk of infection, including those farmed in upland areas,” she said, adding that some farmers are playing a risky game by waiting until the disease is found closer to their own farm.

“I would remind these farmers that it takes three weeks after a completed course of vaccine (one dose for sheep, two for cattle) for an animal to have optimal immunity,” she said.

“The only sensible course of action, to protect the farming industry of Wales and prevent bluetongue from becoming endemic to this country, is to vaccinate now.”

Glossop warned that due to the “disappointingly low uptake” of the vaccine, stocks will not be underwritten by Government next year, which could affect the price of vaccine once existing stocks pass their expiry date.

“It makes financial sense to buy now at a guaranteed low price,” she said.