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Cattle tragedy not caused by any contagious disease

Cattle tragedy not caused by any contagious disease

Tuesday 20 December 2022

Cattle tragedy not caused by any contagious disease

Tuesday 20 December 2022

Guernsey's States Vet has called the death of 112 Jersey cows a "distressing event" and a "tragedy" but says it shouldn't cause any problems for other herds across the Channel Islands.

States Veterinary Officer, David Chamberlain was asked to help with the initial enquiry after an entire herd of Jersey dairy cows fell ill and died at the weekend.

The cause of the deaths at Woodlands Farm in St.Helier was not confirmed at the time of writing but it was thought to be linked to their feed.


Pictured: A herd of dairy cows.

Samples from the batch of feed believed to be responsible have been sent to a UK laboratory for analysis, while at the same time additional stocks of medicine have been sent in the opposite direction for use by vets.

A statement issued on behalf of Jersey Dairy yesterday said they were "totally this very tragic time".

Eamon Fenlon, Managing Director of Jersey Dairy, said the group A herd numbered 120 cattle, of which the 'large majority' had died, with the remainder being treated by vets.

It was also confirmed that 33,000 litres of milk collected from across Jersey on Friday and stored at Jersey Dairy - which included some from cows from the farm – was to be disposed of as a precaution, with officials saying there is no risk to human health.

Mr Fenlon said that the farm's group B herd of about 100 cattle appeared unaffected by the incident, but that as a precaution no collections had been made. There was also no evidence of any other farms being affected, he said.

Jersey's States Veterinary team, the Operations and Transport, Regulation, and Public Health bodies were liaising closely through the weekend, with advice also being sought from the States Vet in Guernsey. 

Mr Chamberlain told Express that this is the most serious event he has worked on during his career locally.

“I cannot recall any animal health incident of this magnitude in my 35 years as a vet in the Channel Islands," he said.

states vet David chamberlain

Pictured: Guernsey's States Vet David Chamberlain. 

"This distressing event will inevitably unsettle all involved and my thoughts are with the farmer, their herdsmen, the States of Jersey team handling the situation and especially the vet.

"The case has been fast-moving and challenging to manage."

Mr Chamberlain confirmed that there is no risk to human health and herds in Guernsey, Sark, Alderney, and Herm are not at risk. 

"While it’s a tragedy, thankfully it appears to be limited to a single group of animals and is not a contagious disease. Robust precautions have been implemented to protect other cattle and the public.

"While there is a working diagnosis, confirmatory tests are underway and being fast-tracked. My support was modest and primarily to act as a ‘sounding-board’ for my Jersey counterpart.”

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