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Northern Ireland urges vigilance following Schmallenberg reports
Signs of SBV in cattle include fever, inappetence and a reduced milk yield.
Fourteen cases have been presented for testing

Farmers in Northern Ireland are being urged to be vigilant for signs of Schmallenberg virus (SBV) after 14 cases were presented to the Agro-Food and Biosciences Institute for testing.

Speaking to Farmers Weekly, Ulster Farmers’ Union president Barclay Bell said: “It is concerning that there are a growing number of reports of this virus being found in Northern Ireland. It is an awful situation for any farmer. No one wants to see Schmallenberg on their farm.”

Although SBV is not a notifiable disease in Northern Ireland, the government is advising farmers to approach their vet if they spot any signs of the disease in their sheep or cattle. These include fever, inappetence, a reduced milk yield and diarrhoea.

SBV first emerged in November 2011 and has since spread throughout Europe. It is transmitted by biting midges and causes severe deformities in calves, lambs and kids.

Sheep are most at risk of catching SBV in their second month of pregnancy, whilst cattle are more likely to contract the disease during their third to fifth month of pregnancy. So far this year, there have not been any confirmed cases of the disease in England.

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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.  

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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.”