Huge concern about the Schmallenberg virus (SBV) has been heightened even further this week by the confirmation of the first UK case in cattle – and the National Beef Association (NBA) is urging all beef farmers to be extremely vigilant to any signs of the disease and report any cases of reabsorbed/aborted foetuses and deformed calves.
The cattle case in West Sussex, added to 32 confirmed SBV cases in sheep in Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Kent, East Sussex and Hertfordshire, shows the east of the country is at particular risk. But NBA Chairman Hamish McBean believes farmers right across the country should be on high alert, as experts do not know enough about the disease yet to assume only those counties close to the English Channel are in danger.
Mr McBean says: “This disease is very serious, as if a cow loses her calf you’ve lost your whole year’s production from that animal. And there is also the risk of losing the cow herself if her offspring is deformed enough to cause calving difficulties.
“The NBA recommends calling your vet if you are in any doubt – it is better to report something that turns out to nothing than to assume it’s not Schmallenber Disease.
“Aside from this terrible disease, we strongly believe farmers should have any cases of abortion investigated anyway. Even if it’s not Schmallenberg, it might be neospora or some other production disease that should be tackled through a team approach with your vet anyway.
“If a cow drops a calf and you don’t do anything about it, before you know it you might have lost three or four and have a serious problem – so get your vet involved. And consider sending those cast cows down the road afterwards, as no one can afford to have empty cows running about the place, regardless of how young or old they are, especially not with the strong market price for cull cows at the moment.”
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