FARMERS WARNED OF THE DANGERS OF SPREADING POULTRY LITTER

The Veterinary Laboratory Agency has announced new guidelines to help farmers protect their stock from botulism.

The Veterinary Laboratory Agency (VLA) has announced new guidelines to help farmers protect their stock from botulism.

According to Defra incidences of suspect botulism have increased substantially since 2003, and evidence suggests that direct access to litter from broiler houses is a significant factor in many outbreaks of suspected and confirmed botulism in cattle and sheep. Litter stored or spread on neighbouring farms can also be a factor.

The use of poultry litter containing carcasses or any carcass material as fertiliser to spread on agricultural land is contrary to the Animal By-Products Regulations 2005 in England, with equivalent legislation in Wales, Scotland and NI. Any poultry carcases have to be taken out before litter is removed from the poultry house.

The VLA guidelines include the advice not use litter on ruminant farms wherever possible and adopt good personal hygiene when moving or spreading litter.

Other recommendations are:

? Moving stock away from direct contact and close proximity to fields where litter has been stored or spread (as fertilizer), including on neighbouring premises

? Not using machinery used for handling litter for storing, mixing or moving feedstuff

? Ensuring litter stores are secure enclosed constructions to prevent access by scavenging birds and animals, including domestic animals and comply with relevant environmental regulations

The full guidelines, including additional advice for poultry keepers, can be found at: http://www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/by-prods/guidance/manureguidancev4.pdf

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