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FMD outbreak - RSPCA launches new Farm Animal Welfare Hotline

The RSPCA is launching a new telephone helpline to help farmers and their animals struggling to cope due to the current emergency ban on moving farm animals.

Calls to the new Farm Animal Welfare Hotline - 0870 753 8333 - will be handled by a dedicated team at the Society’s National Control Centre and if necessary passed onto frontline RSPCA staff to assess what help is needed.

“The current movement ban could have a massive impact on farm animals. We want to do what we can to help them, and hope this new hotline will help farmers manage this latest blow,” says Superintendent Tim Wass, the RSPCA’s National Emergency Response Co-ordinator.

“The RSPCA is already working extremely closely with the farming community in the wake of the recent floods and this is another way we can help. We have rescued livestock - as well as people - and helped provide animal feed and clean drinking water.”

The Society believes current animal movement restrictions are an essential part of the efforts to contain the Foot and Mouth outbreak. It is crucial the disease does not spread like the 2001 epidemic, but the emergency restrictions can create serious problems for the welfare of livestock.

Concerns include pigs becoming aggressive due to movement restrictions, moving lambs from high ground, and farmers dealing with fallen stock.

Farmers and livestock owners with similar problems can now call the RSPCA Farm Animal Welfare Hotline on 0870 753 8333. The service is already up and running and is available 24 hours, seven days a week for the duration of the Foot and Mouth crisis.

The RSPCA will give welfare advice and if appropriate broker services between callers and those offering help. If the issue can’t be resolved over the phone, the Society has frontline staff trained in both farm animal welfare and biosecurity who could visit and offer practical help.

The Society has been working with officials at the NFU (National Farmers Union) and Farm Crisis Network about setting up the helpline.