04/07/2012

BVA calls for action on slaughter welfare and breeding legislation

The BVA called on the Welsh Government to take action on issues of non-stunned slaughter, while expressing disappointment over the decision against a proposed badger cull.

The BVA raised concerns over welfare at slaughter at its annual dinner hosted in Cardiff City Hall, while proposals for dog breeding legislation, disease surveillance and bovine TB were also on the agenda.

At the annual dinner, attended by key figures from animal health and welfare organisations, the agri-food industry and the veterinary profession, BVA president Carl Padgett called on the Welsh Government to tackle a number of issues, including non-stunned slaughter.

“We are concerned that meat from non-stunned slaughter is reaching the mainstream market – something that the law did not intend. That’s why we’re calling for meat and products from non-stunned slaughter to be labelled as such," Mr Padgett said.

He added that the BVA had support from inside and outside the veterinary profession, and urged Environmental and Sustainable Development minister John Griffiths to consider the issues raised as the welfare at slaughter consultation takes place.

Dog breeding legislation was also a concern for the BVA, with Mr Padgett calling on Wales to tackle its "reputation for puppy farming by listening to those experts that came together in the Task and Finish Group."

“In our response to the latest consultation we make the case for not watering down the recommendations on staff to dog ratios – one staff member for 30 adult dogs is insufficient and the Task and Finish Group proposal for one to 20 should be the maximum. We have also repeated our call for a section on hereditary disease and responsible breeding.”

In his speech, Mr Padgett also discussed veterinary laboratory closures and issues affecting disease surveillance.

“The announcement caught us by surprise, not least because decisions appeared to have been made before a proper assessment had been undertaken on the impact on the UK’s surveillance network. We believe any future model must be shaped by good surveillance strategies, and not the need to cut costs.
 
“There is never a good time for a new disease to appear, but the emergence of Schmallenberg Virus in northern Europe and England has provided us with a very timely reminder of the acute need for robust national and international surveillance systems."

Mr Padgett also reiterated the need for "properly trained, properly motivated, and properly rewarded" veterinary surgeons in the event of a notifiable disease outbreak.

He also went to express the BVA's disappointment at the decision against a proposed badger cull.

“The promise of an average 16% reduction in herd breakdowns over the coming decade certainly didn’t seem insignificant to the vets and livestock keepers battling this devastating disease on a daily basis.
 
“But the decision was clear and now I urge my colleagues to do their utmost to support the roll-out of the vaccination policy in the Intensive Action Area.
 
“However, we hope the option of a badger cull remains on the table for consideration as the TB picture continues to develop, to work alongside vaccination and cattle measures and give us the chance to fight TB without one hand tied behind our backs.”

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