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Sheep to be exhumed after blood seeps out

April 28, 2001 The Times (London) by Helen Daniel
A FARMER yesterday described his alarm at seeing patches of "bubbling blood" in his field from the leaking carcasses of nearly 1,500 sheep killed after a confirmed case of foot-and-mouth disease.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, together with the Environment Agency were alerted and have now ordered that the carcasses be dug up and burnt.

The farmer, Richard Tutton, 53, said the animals had been efficiently and swiftly slaughtered on March 27, soon after the disease was confirmed on his 380-acre farm at Buttington in Powys.

The 1,476 sheep were buried in a pit on his family farm which has been drenched in recent weeks by heavy rainfall.

"I walked out in the field and could see blood. It was almost bubbling up in some places," he said. "I just thought something needs to be done about it before it becomes a problem.

"It was not a very pleasant thing to happen. There was no smell at all but there soon will be from the pyres which they will be burnt on."

They would be dug up just before being incinerated, probably later today, he said.

"I'm trying to take this all in my stride but it has been five weeks of having to live with the slaughter. I finally got used to that and then this happens. I was not worried about potential health risks because it was being dealt with very efficiently," Mr Tutton said.

A Welsh Assembly spokeswoman said: "In all, 1476 sheep are being dug up because of a leakage of blood. The initial decision to bury was taken after advice from all relevant agencies. The leakage is reported as being confined to the surface of the burial site. A number of options is being considered and assessed. Once a decision is taken, all agencies and the local community will be informed on what is to happen."

Residents picketed a landfill site in North Devon yesterday to protest against a decision to bury 50,000 animal carcasses there. They fear that water courses near Deep Moor, Torrington, will be affected by the rotting carcasses.

There was a similar protest at Ash Moor, near Petrockstow, where engineers are constructing burial chambers able to hold 500,000 carcasses.

In one of the toughest stands against contiguous culling so far in the foot-and-mouth epidemic, farmers in the Forest of Dean were refusing to co-operate last night with the compulsory slaughter of their animals. They threatened to blockade their farms to prevent vets from entering.

A government vet has ordered a 48-hour halt to the slaughter in the area while he seeks advice from MAFF.


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