VEGA News Item

Badgers, Cows, TB - Do They Share Feedstuffs? - 25/08/2005
Our Contribution in Consultations with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) on the Regulations on the Hygiene and Enforcment on feedstuffs. Infected and contaminated feeds can spread and exchange pathogens widely. Wildlife and farmyard commensals aren't toilet trained. Like food, feed must be valued and stored in clean, salubrious conditions in the industry that exploits them.
Re: Feed (Hygiene and Enforcement) (England) Regulations 2005

1. The Regulations and accompanying material are praiseworthily comprehensive. We would emphasize the likelihood of feeds for animals on farms and other forms of containment (e.g. zoos, circuses, rescue homes, hospitals, kennels, stablings, and sanctuaries, as well as at Shows, auctions, lairages and petshops) suffering contamination by commensals and wild and feral animals and escaped livestock. Transmission of disease with possibilities of wide-ranging but insidious zoonotic consequences can then occur. Water supplies must be considered similarly. Communal feeding at mangers and troughs and watering provide excellent avenues for the spread of pathogens from bought-in stock. Cats, badgers, and foxes are likely scavengers and predators carrying disease, and birds, wild and common, as well as migrants can contaminate feedstuffs seriously. Topical examples abound in such pathogenic threats, which could be exploited by terrorists. Good husbandry should ensure that generous allowance of the FAWC’s Five Freedoms enables the livestock to develop robust immune systems to overcome the stresses in modern methods of production. “A calf’s worst enemy is another calf” runs the farming adage. It proclaims vividly the threats of fatal viral and bacterial infections arising from premature weaning of the calf on the feeds separating it from the sustaining nurture offered by its dam.

2. Enforcement of the regulations requires sampling for analyses for levels of contaminating residues, toxins, and contents of heavy metals. Such tests must be applied on the understanding that haylage, silage, and other forms of preserved or conserved fodder count as feedstuffs. In all these contexts regulations must apply to agriculture and aquaculture in the widest concepts of animal welfare and the environment.

3. Diverse farming enterprises utilize feedstuffs arising as by-products of the slaughtering and knackering trades; or they may concentrate on specialised enterprises for animal products for exploitation in recreational activities or intended for medical purposes for experimentation or production of vaccines. Some forms of food-production also require specialised feeds, e.g. in rabbit farming and rearing of poultry for breeding. Other species farmed for special commercial purposes include guinea pigs and other rodents, leeches, and maggots.

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