Imported Mite Affects Performance Of Beef Cattle

UK - Cattle farmers in all parts of the UK need to be alert to a new disease threat which, if confirmed on their holding, will severely undermine the economic performance of their herd, the National Beef Association has warned.
calendar icon 29 March 2011
clock icon 2 minute read

The psoroptic mange mite was probably initially imported on stock from continental Europe and is already affecting over 20 farms, including two beef finishing units, in England and Wales.

The mange that is caused and spread by a mite, and can survive off cattle for up to 12 days, can result in severe weight loss as well as create severe welfare problems due to intense skin irritation across the tail head, back, and shoulders.

“It should be tackled as soon as it is found even though eradication is expensive because all in contact cattle, not just the affected animals must be treated,” explained NBA director, Kim Haywood.

Farmers who suspect they may have a problem with mange should contact their vet who will take a skin scraping to confirm if psoroptic mange is present and if present, will provide advice on a an appropriate treatment programme..”

“The Association has been advised it is a mistake to confine treatment to affected individuals because treatment must be applied to all in contact animals to ensure the mite is eliminated. It is likely that other animals are infected and not showing signs of the disease and these animals could ‘silently’ spread the infection to other animals and to other farms” said Ms Haywood.

And in an attempt to curb further spread the NBA is advising breeders and finishers who intend to import cattle, to get them checked by an official vet on the farm of origin before they leave as well as when they arrive in the UK.

“This disease is not notifiable so it is up to the industry to take control and then eliminate it as soon as possible before it becomes endemic in the UK and this can only be done if any cattle suspected of being infected, and those that have been in contact with them, are immediately checked out,” said Ms Haywood.

“For its part the NBA is asking import agents to make sure that cattle for delivery to UK customers are thoroughly examined before they leave their farm of origin.”

“We will be discussing with Defra how to encourage official vets in European countries to thoroughly inspect and test any suspected cattle to be exported to the UK and the Association is also seeking to raise levels of diligence and scrutiny among breeders and finishers here.”

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