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Farming

Bird flu restrictions end

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Restrictions end: Keepers urged to maintain vigilance

THE CABINET Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths has announced the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone, which expired on April 30, will not be replaced.

The Cabinet Secretary has taken this decision based on an updated veterinary risk assessment conducted by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA). However, the temporary suspension on gatherings of some species of birds will remain as additional evidence is considered.

The Cabinet Secretary said: “Last December I declared the whole of Wales an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone in response to Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza H5N8 outbreaks being reported across Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. This was a precautionary measure to minimise the risk of poultry and other captive birds being infected by wild birds.

“We have been closely monitoring this situation and APHA has been preparing updated outbreak risk assessments.

The most recent evidence-based veterinary risk assessment concluded there remains a Low – Medium risk of resident wild waterfowl being infected with H5N8. Meanwhile, the exposure assessment risk for poultry farms is Low, but heightened, and will depend on the biosecurity measures on each farm. This level is consistent with November 2016, when disease was present across Europe in sporadic outbreaks and occasional wild bird findings were being reported.

“Therefore, I am pleased to announce, following the expiry of the current Avian Influenza Prevention Zone on 30 April, this will not be replaced. Whilst I am sure this is welcome news it is important to remember avian influenza remains a constant and real threat to our poultry and other captive birds.”

The Chief Veterinary Officer for Wales, Christianne Glossop, added: “I would like to stress the need for all keepers of poultry and other domestic captive birds to remain alert for signs of the disease and to contact their private veterinarians if they have any concerns. If anyone suspects disease they should contact the Animal and Plant Health Agency immediately.

“It is essential all keepers maintain effective biosecurity practices, such as considering and updating self-assessment forms, cleansing and disinfecting all clothing, equipment and vehicles (using approved disinfectants) and implementing effective pest control measures to minimise the opportunities of contact between their birds and wild birds and wild life.

“We can all play a part in supporting the ongoing surveillance by reporting any findings of dead wild birds to the GB helpline on 03459 335577. In particular, any wild ducks, wild geese, swans, gulls or birds of prey and where more than five birds of any species are found dead in the same location. We must also ensure we all comply and respect the biosecurity measures put in place by poultry or other captive bird keepers.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to remind all poultry keepers with 50 birds or more they must register their flocks on the Poultry Register and strongly encourage all poultry keepers, including those with fewer than 50 birds, to register. This will ensure they can be contacted immediately, via email or text update, in an avian disease outbreak enabling them to protect their flock at the earliest opportunity.

“If poultry or other captive birds are being let outside after a prolonged period of being housed I would recommend keepers consult their private veterinarian on the health impacts.”

Meanwhile the UK Government’s last remaining bird flu control measures in England – including the ban on poultry gatherings – will be lifted on Monday, May 15, Defra’s Chief Vet announced on Friday (April 28).

With the lifting of the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ), bird keepers will no longer be required by law to follow specific disease prevention measures, intended to reduce the risk of highlight pathogenic H5N8 bird flu passing from wild birds to domestic flocks. However, Defra officials said keepers should continue to follow industry standard best practice on biosecurity, including minimising movement in and out of bird enclosures, cleaning footwear, keeping areas where birds live clean and tidy and feeding birds indoors.

A ban on gatherings featuring at-risk bird species, including waterfowl and poultry has been in place since December, when migrating wild birds brought a spate of H5N8 cases to Western Europe. The outbreaks had a devastating effect on the poultry industry in South West France, where birds in three departments had to be culled to prevent further spread of the disease after it was transferred from farm-to-farm. The ban will be lifted in England on May 15, meaning bird gatherings can then resume, subject to some additional identity and health checks and biosecurity measures.

According to the latest risk assessment from Defra’s advisors, the overall risk of another H5N8 outbreak in the UK has fallen from ’medium’ to ‘low’, comparable with risk levels in November 2016, and should continue to fall in warmer, drier spring weather conditions.

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Farming

TFA ready to work with Welsh Government

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George Dunn, TFA: Profitability and resilience of Welsh farms crucial

TFA CYMRU, The Tenant Farmers Association in Wales, has welcomed the principles for future farm policy in Wales set out by the Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths AM.

TFA Chief Executive George Dunn said “The Cabinet Secretary has recognised the significant and swift changes that are on the horizon for the farming community and we welcome her determination to ensure that farming continues to be supported as a vital component of the rural economy within Wales. Her reference to farming acting as the ‘social anchor’ of many communities within Wales demonstrates her understanding of the important role that agriculture plays in delivering benefits for the whole of Welsh society.”

“We agree that the significant differences between farming in England and Wales requires the maximum amount of flexibility within the devolution settlement whilst respecting the need to ensure that we have a properly functioning UK single market in which farmers in Wales can continue to do business with other parts of the UK without restriction,” said Mr Dunn.

“TFA Cymru has been particularly active in ensuring that any new Government policy must be focused on active farmers and, for the tenanted sector in particular, we do not want to see any future support becoming capitalised into land rents, land values or otherwise hived off by non-active land owners. The determination of the Cabinet Secretary to keep land managers on the land chimes fully with TFA Cymru policy in this area,” said Mr Dunn.

“TFA Cymru will work constructively with the Welsh Government in pursuing its plans for food production and in assisting farmers to compete in a global marketplace trading on the benefits of ‘brand Wales’. It is vitally important in this respect that we look at the whole of the supply chain to ensure that it is operating as fairly and as competitively as possible,” said Mr Dunn.

“Understandably there is a desire to develop a system of future support based on public payments for public goods and we are pleased that the Cabinet Secretary sees this policy going hand in hand in ensuring the profitability and resilience of Welsh farms,” said Mr Dunn.

“Much will depend on the financial settlement that Wales achieves in terms of the Brexit dividend and TFA Cymru accepts that change is coming. We will want to ensure that farm tenants are able to have the same opportunity to access and benefit from the help and support available alongside their owner occupier neighbours,” said Mr Dunn.

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Farming

Expert tips on dogs and livestock

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Livestock worrying: Early training is important

THE FUW caught up with Bryony Francis, a dog behaviour consultant, Clinical Animal Behaviourist and Full Member of the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors (APBC), who spoke at the Animal Welfare Network Wales livestock worrying seminar, hosted by the FUW at the end of last year.

Bryony has been running a behaviour practice in South Wales and the Marches since 2002 and lives in farming country near the Black Mountains with her husband and a Jack Russell Terrier.

Here is her advice for dog owners when it comes to livestock worrying:

With various access rights, walkers and dogs share the countryside with the farm animals and wildlife that live there. We all want to enjoy it. Yet science shows that any new arrival causes stress to livestock and, of stimuli investigated, a dog is the most aversive stimulus that you can present to sheep.

In short, as soon as you take a dog into a field of sheep, you are likely to cause stress to the sheep regardless of how you and your dog behave after that. Stress can cause illness and injury, and therefore has serious consequences for the welfare of the livestock and the farmer’s livelihood. Owners and walkers of dogs have responsibilities under the law and, under some circumstances, farmers are legally entitled to shoot dogs that endanger their sheep.

Dogs inherit some behavioural tendencies and acquire others. The domestic dog is a predator, with hunting behaviours altered but not eliminated through breeding. A dog’s desire to engage in these hunting behaviours varies from breed to breed and from individual dog to individual dog. Most dogs learn early in their lives to enjoy chasing things.

In dog behavioural development terms, the socialisation period between 3 and 15 weeks of age is a sensitive phase of social development providing a window of opportunity where experience of sheep might set them up for friendly, calm interactions.

That said, like all socialisation, it is a lifelong exercise requiring skilled positive handling and knowledge of both species to maintain good behaviour between dog and sheep. If your dog has not encountered sheep before or will not encounter sheep on a daily basis, then you are well advised not to invoke interest in sheep at all. Otherwise, you may ‘awake’ in your dog exactly the predatory chasing behaviour you are trying to avoid and it is much harder to stop than it is to prevent in the first place. Instead, please manage your dog on a lead and at a distance which will not disturb the sheep.

If your dog has already gained access to sheep and become over-interested, the first thing to do is to keep your dog away from sheep, whether or not you are accompanying it (a significant proportion of livestock worrying takes place without the dog owner’s knowledge. If your dog has free run of your garden, make sure it’s secure).

The second is to find a specialist, qualified behaviour counsellor and discuss a management plan and realistic goals. Whoever provides this should be an expert in the behaviour of the particular livestock species and able to recognise and respond to any sign of distress in livestock as well as in people and dogs.

Inappropriate advice and methods may worsen your dog’s behaviour and can result in welfare problems for livestock and dogs. Registered clinical animal behaviourists, such as APBC Members, have achieved the highest academic and practical standards in the field of animal behaviour: they can help dog owners to use positive reinforcement techniques, away from livestock, to teach your dog to walk calmly on a short, loose lead and to focus their attention on you regardless of distractions.

If your dog hasn’t seen livestock before, and there is no need for it to see livestock, consider keeping it away. Where possible, avoid walking your dog in fields containing livestock. If you can’t avoid fields containing livestock, give the livestock plenty of space. Keep your dog on a short lead and focussed on you.

You’ll be doing the livestock a favour and possibly preventing a behaviour problem in your dog.

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Farming

Gareth Raw Rees Memorial Scholarship 2018

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Previous Winners: 2017's recipients of the Raw Rees Scholarship

WANT to travel the world and learn more about agriculture in other countries?

Then this could be your chance as the Gareth Raw Rees Memorial Scholarship, supported by the NFU Mutual Charitable Trust, is making up to £2,500 available to lucky youngsters to make their travel dreams come true.

The Scholarship, which was renamed in 2008 thanks to an annual donation of £1000 from the NFU Mutual Charitable Trust, is looking for applicants considering travelling in the UK, Europe or further afield. If you are under 30 and would like some financial assistance with your travels then contact NFU Cymru for an application form – even if you have already received support from another scholarship or fund.

Neil Hamilton, AM for Mid & West Wales and Leader of UKIP Wales, is urging young famers, in his constituency, to travel and learn more about agriculture in other countries.

“This a wonderful opportunity for young farmers who are keen to learn more about agriculture and farming methods in other parts of the world.

“Ten young people benefited from the award last year and between them visited USA, Latvia, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand where they gained an insight into farming in these countries.

“As everybody knows, these days, it is more important than ever to gain a wider knowledge of the agricultural industry and it is great to see such opportunities available for young farmers in Wales.

“I would urge anyone interested to make sure they apply.”

NFU Cymru County Adviser, Peter Howells said, “The scholarship fund was launched in 1984 in memory of the late Gareth Raw Rees MBE from Ceredigion whose considerable energies had always been directed towards promoting the interests of young people in farming and in the countryside. He was a firm believer in the inestimable benefits of travelling towards the fulfilment of a broader and more rewarding education.”

The Scholarship is managed by the Raw Rees family; NFU Cymru; NFU Mutual; Wales YFC; the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) at Aberystwyth University and the Future Farmers of Wales.

“The Gareth Raw Rees Scholarship offers fantastic opportunities for young people to travel and learn from farming methods in other parts of the world,” said Dai Davies OBE, Chairman of NFU Mutual’s Advisory Board for Wales. “In today’s fast changing agricultural industry, it’s vital that our young farmers gain a wider perspective to help them farm successfully, which is why NFU Mutual is a strong supporter of the scholarship scheme. Over the years we’ve received some exceptional applications from some very capable and enterprising young people and have been able to support their efforts in visiting and learning about a variety of agricultural techniques employed all across the globe. We very much look forward to receiving some equally impressive applications once again in 2018.”

In 2017 10 young people benefited from the award, and between them visited New Zealand, USA, Latvia, Australia and Argentina.

For an application form, contact Peter Howells at NFU Cymru on 01982 554200 or email Peter.Howells@nfu.org.uk. A copy of the guidelines and an application form is also available on the NFU Cymru website www.nfu-cymru.org.uk

The closing date for applications is Friday May 4, 2018 and the winners will be announced at this year’s Royal Welsh Show.

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