Husbandry Department asks farmers to defer buying or selling of animals for 3 months

Despite the anxieties of foot and mouth disease in the plains of the State, Dakshina Kannada remains insulated because of a robust vaccination system and geographical conditions.

In the past three weeks, two cases of the disease were reported, affecting a total of 19 animals. While the tests for six heads of cattle in Ullal tested positive for the disease, officials of the Animal Husbandry Department are still awaiting the results of tests on blood samples of 13 cows and buffaloes that showed symptoms of the disease in Dharmasthala around 10 days ago.

However, as soon as the cases were reported, 808 animals in Ullal and 1,621 animals in Dharmasthala were vaccinated.

The animals in Dharmasthala are in the sheds owned by D. Veerendra Heggade, who had told Chief Minister Siddharamaiah on September 29, during the CM’s visit there, to contain the disease as soon as possible.

Barring these incidents that can be contained, the district is not susceptible to the disease, with previous years seeing just “very rare cases”, said Deputy Director of the Department of Animal Husbandry, K.V. Halagappa. “Over 97 per cent of the cattle have been covered under the vaccination round conducted from August 1 to September-end,” he said. The unvaccinated cattle include calves under the age of four months and pregnant cattle.

Precautions have been taken, and the department has been kept on alert, he said. “The Karnataka Milk Federation and farmers’ societies have been sensitised. Farmers have been told to defer their purchase of animals or sale of animals for around three months,” said Mr. Halagappa.

The Dakshina Kannada Milk Producers Union Limited (DKMUL) is going one step further in this regard. “We have stopped procurement of cattle from other districts and even Kerala till at least six months have passed after news of FMD outbreaks end,” said Managing Director B.V. Satyanarayana.

While cattle may be covered by the vaccination programme, the concern for the Animal Husbandry Department is that pigs and goats are not officially covered by the centrally-funded Foot and Mouth Disease Control Programme. “Pigs harbour the bacteria, and cause it to multiple. Similarly, goats, though they are not that susceptible, can be infected too. Both these investments of the farmer are not protected by the government,” said Mr. Halagappa.

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