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US professor warns UK to maintain welfare standards
Vets play a key role as advocates for animals, even if this requires speaking uncomfortable truths.

Debate explores farm animal welfare post-Brexit 

An eminent US professor has warned the UK not to dilute its high animal welfare standards in order to secure trade deals with the US.

Jim Reynolds, professor of large animal medicine and welfare at the Western University of Health Sciences in California, was speaking during a debate at the Animal Welfare Foundation’s annual discussion forum in London.

Along with other speakers, he argued that vets play a key role as advocates for animals, even if this requires speaking uncomfortable truths about issues such as tail docking and beak trimming.

According to a report by Vet Record, he argued that US livestock vets do not speak out enough about animal welfare issues, and as a result, welfare is less consistent than the UK.

Mr Reynolds added that maintaining the UK’s current standards in any post-Brexit trade deals could help to pressure the US to change its own.

“Our system has changed over the years from a supply management system to a commodity-based system in which the profit margins are low … so America's looking desperately to export low-value products.

"That's how we make money. Keep your high-welfare, high-value products because that's something we can attain to. Our welfare programmes come from here (the UK) to us.”

However, he argued that while the UK had high welfare standards, the issue is confidence - whether animals are represented in all circumstances and whether assurance schemes took into account the lives of the animals. 

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RSPCA braced for ‘hectic hedgehog month’

News Story 1
 The RSPCA says that it is bracing itself for a ‘hectic hedgehog month’ after calls to the charity about the creatures peaked this time last year.

More than 10,000 calls about hedgehogs were made to the RSPCA’s national helpline in 2018, 1,867 of which were in July. This compares with just 133 calls received in February of the same year.

Evie Button, the RSPCA’s scientific officer, said: “July is our busiest month for hedgehogs. Not only do calls about hedgehogs peak, but so do admissions to our four wildlife centres as members of the public and our own officers bring in orphaned, sick or injured animals for treatment and rehabilitation.” 

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ASF traces found in seized meat at NI airport

More than 300kg of illegal meat and dairy products were seized at Northern Ireland’s airports in June, DAERA has revealed.

A sample of these were tested at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, resulting in the detection of African swine fever DNA fragments.

DAERA said that while the discovery does not pose a significant threat to Northern Ireland’s animal health status, it underlines the importance of controls placed on personal imports of meat and dairy products. Holidaymakers travelling overseas are being reminded not to bring any animal or plant products back home.