Warning to UK farmers over disease risks in animal feed silos

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/Kelsey Pangborn
© GettyImages/Kelsey Pangborn

Related tags Defra BSE AIC silo

UK farmers are being warned of the risks of disease from storing animal feed in dated silos.

The UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has issued advice to highlight the importance of cleaning the feed storage areas to keep animals healthy but also to tackle the issues of potential disease such as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathies (BSE). 

The move comes following a solitary case of BSE in 2021. The case was potentially linked to residual contaminated feed from a silo that had been in use since the early 1980s and was the most likely source of infection.

Defra has advised farmers​ that due to the potential risk of BSE from feed predating the reinforced feed ban of 1 August 1996, it strongly recommends silos that pre-date this specific date be decommissioned and replaced, especially if these are difficult or hazardous to clean.

If it is not possible to decommission and replace these feed silos then farmers are being urged to arrange for cleaning as soon as is practicably possible to ensure that any remnants of old feed are removed as they can become trapped in joints, grooves, and crevices with the potential to remain in place for many years.

BSE controls

A Defra spokesperson told FeedNavigator: “We have a series of BSE controls in place to protect public and animal health. The strict feed controls introduced in 1988 and strengthened in 1996 have meant that the number of BSE cases in the UK has been greatly reduced, with only 5 cases of classical BSE confirmed since 2014 – all of which were detected through our extensive surveillance program.”

Defra also confirmed that data is also being collected for Great Britain to ensure it can obtain negligible BSE risk status, as recognized by the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH). Negligible risk status will help facilitate trade and access new markets for export of British beef and feed products.

The Agricultural Industries Confederation (AIC), the agri-supply industry’s trade association, has shared the guidance with its members, encouraging them to make sure that its farm customers are familiar with it.

AIC's head of animal feed, James McCulloch, said: "Compound feed producers are aware of their role in helping their livestock farming customers to identify and manage feed storage safety risks. AIC encourages its members to ensure that their farming customers follow this DEFRA guidance."

While the British Meat Processors Association, which represents meat processors, also urged farmers to follow the DEFRA advice.

A spokesperson said: “Any breach of the new WOAH requirement for risk assessments of silos could jeopardize the UK’s ‘controlled risk’ status which would seriously impact our ability to export beef.”

Related topics Regulation

Related news

Show more