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Government testing foot and mouth contingency plans
Exercise Blackthorn will simulate a large-scale outbreak that has spread from England to the rest of the UK.
Officials to assess current state of readiness

Government departments across the UK are working together to test contingency plans for an outbreak of foot and mouth disease.

‘Exercise Blackthorn’ will see officials from DAERA, the Scottish Government, Welsh Government, DEFRA and the APHA test all current contingency plans for an outbreak of the disease. The officials aim to assess the current state of readiness whilst identifying issues and areas for improvement.

“Regularly testing our contingency plans and joining up across the UK is an important part of assuring our capability to respond to disease outbreaks. Exercises like this provide an opportunity for teams across government and industry to engage and to learn lessons in a controlled and safe environment,” said chief veterinary officer Nigel Gibbens.
“The risk of foot and mouth disease arriving in the UK is low but ever-present. Government monitors disease outbreaks and incidence around the world assessing risk for the UK and taking action to mitigate risk where possible.”

Under the EU Foot and Mouth Disease Directive, Member States are required to exercise their contingency plans twice in a five-year period or during the five year period after a major epizootic disease has been controlled and eradicated.

Exercise Blackthorn will simulate a large-scale outbreak that has spread from England to the rest of the UK. The first simulation exercise took place on Thursday (8 February) and further exercises will be carried out over the next five months. 

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Nominations for 2019 RSPCA Honours Awards now open

News Story 1
 People across the UK are being urged to nominate a standout animal champion for the 2019 RSPCA Honours Awards.

The awards recognise those who have worked tirelessly to improve animal welfare, campaigned on behalf of animals, or shown true bravery. Previous winners include comedian John Bishop, who was awarded Celebrity Animal Champion of the Year, and 11-year-old Lobby Cantwell, who raised more than £1,000 for the charity through mountain climbs and bike rides.

To submit a nomination or find out more about the awards visit the RSPCA website. Nominations will remain open until 4 pm on Friday, March 15.  

Click here for more...
News Shorts
New £1m project to investigate dairy cow lameness

Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) is leading a new £1 million research project to investigate the causes of lameness in dairy cows.

One in three dairy cows are affected by lameness every day in the UK, costing the industry an estimated £250 milion annually.

The project will take three years to complete and is due to finish by November 2021.

Professor Georgios Banos of SRUC commented: “In addition to pain and discomfort to the animal, lameness is associated with decreased milk production and inflated farm costs.

“Among cows raised in the same environment, some become lame while others do not. Understanding the reasons behind this will help us develop targeted preventive practices contributing to enhanced animal welfare and farm profitability.”