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Animal Health

Volume 715: debated on Wednesday 9 December 2009


Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of progress to protect animal health in the United Kingdom. [HL181]

The health of animals is central to Defra's work of protecting livestock and controlling and eradicating disease.

The Animal Welfare Act 2006 makes it an offence to cause any unnecessary suffering to an animal, or for an owner or keeper to fail to provide for an animal's welfare needs. This includes the need for a suitable environment (place to live); for a suitable diet; to exhibit normal behaviour patterns; to be housed with, or apart from, other animals (if applicable); and to be protected from pain, injury, suffering and disease.

The Animal Health and Welfare Strategy, published in 2004, aimed continuously to improve the health and welfare of kept animals while protecting society, the economy, and the environment from the effect of animal disease.

The Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO), in his annual report on Animal Health for 2008, summarised progress and developments in UK animal health and welfare. Recent successes include:

the successful implementation of a voluntary bluetongue vaccination campaign in England and Wales, delivered in partnership with the veterinary profession and livestock industries;

the effective control of two outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza in England, due to a co-ordinated response from Defra, Animal Health, the Veterinary Laboratories Agency, the Health Protection Agency, the Environment Agency and local authorities;

major progress towards the elimination of BSE in cattle;

continued progress on the control of salmonella in poultry and the launch of an industry-led zoonoses control programme for pigs; and

good progress in Northern Ireland on the control of bovine brucellosis and Aujeszky's disease in pigs.

Bovine Tuberculosis (bTB) continues to be a challenge. In 2009 the EU approved the UK bTB Eradication Plan, which reflected the control strategies being pursued in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Defra continues to work on developing a bTB vaccine for both badgers and cattle in order to provide a new tool to help control the spread of the disease from wildlife.

A full copy of the CVO's report can be found on the Defra website.