The Press and Journal (Inverness, Highlands, and Islands)

Council asks for extra care when importing sheep to the Shetlands


Shetland Islands Council is urging sheep importers to take extra care when transporti­ng sheep to the island.

This is due to the area’s high health status, which could be jeopardise­d if imported sheep bring new diseases to Shetland’s flocks.

It is estimated around three times as many female sheep are being imported to Shetland than were being imported a decade ago and this is putting pressure on the measures in place there to monitor disease.

The Shetland Animal Health Scheme was created to manage testing among sheep and cattle, aiming to maintain its disease free status.

These regimes have already prevented the spread of infectious diseases such as Maedi Visna (MV) and Enzootic Abortion of Ewes (EAE).

To help continue this success, Shetland Islands Council is asking sheep farmers to take steps to reduce risks of spreading infectious diseases to Shetland flocks.

Hilary Burgess, veterinary adviser with Shetland Islands Council’s environmen­tal health team, said: “The testing systems which we have in place in Shetland have prevented diseases spreading from imported sheep to Shetland flocks.

“The support of farmers and crofters for the Animal Health Scheme has enabled Shetland to maintain a uniquely high sheep health status over many years.

“These systems are now under increased pressure as numbers of imported sheep increase and we urge all importers to take steps so we can continue to keep infectious diseases out of the isles.”

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