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NFU Scotland to push ahead with SBV surveillance

NFU Scotland is to drive forward Schmallenberg (SBV) surveillance in Scotland and is looking for Scottish dairy farmers to help with the monitoring effort.

To track the possible spread of the virus into Scotland this year, NFUS, in partnership with SRUC (Scotland's Rural College) and Biobest, the specialist veterinary virology, serology and DNA diagnostics business, will identify a network of dairy farms across Scotland to take part in a milk-testing programme.

By taking samples from a dairy farm's milk tank, and testing it for SBV anti-bodies, dairy farmers will provide a service to all Scottish cattle and sheep keepers by identifying any spread of the virus into Scotland this year.

Meanwhile, the Welsh are calling for a vaccine for SBV to be licensed and available to farmers as soon as possible in the light of bigger than expected lambing losses south of the Border.

Speaking at the National Sheep Association's regional annual meeting in Builth Wells, chairman David Pittendreigh urged the Welsh Government to take action on a disease that was having a bigger impact than blue tongue.

In a departure from its usual approach in regulating vaccines, the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) said it was assessing an application for an SBV vaccine submitted by MSD Animal Health.

Rumours that a vaccine was nearing authorisation this spring may prove to be optimistic.

A spokesman for MSD Animal Health said: "We are currently working closely with the regulatory authorities and cannot speculate as to when the vaccine will be available."

Speaking from Edinburgh, NFUS president Nigel Miller said: "Evidence suggests that SBV presents a genuine risk to Scottish cattle and sheep this year.

"Although we have not yet found acute disease in Scotland, we need to take action to establish this surveillance so that the threat can be tracked in the coming months."

Scottish dairy farmers who are interested in being part of the surveillance group are being asked to contact NFUS Animal Health Policy Manager Penny Johnston on 0131 472 4020 or email penny. johnston@nfus.org.uk

The weighbridge wasn't working at Lawrie and Symington's sale of store cattle in Lanark on Tuesday, so buyers had to use their own judgement.

The firm sold 379 bullocks to a top of £1420 per head and an average of £999.03, while 279 heifers peaked at £1220 and levelled at £848.17.

Messrs Craig Wilson had a mixed offering of 1920 prime hoggs in Newton Stewart yesterday that sold dearer on the week.

Top prices on the day were £85 per head and 200p per kg with the final average levelling at 164p.

The 318 cast sheep forward saw ewes sell to £90 for Texels and £54 for Blackfaces, while rams peaked at £76 for a Texel.

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