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Countryside code and dog walking

Walkers warned of dog faeces risk to livestock

The vast majority of people who walk their dogs across the network of field paths in North Warwickshire  are wonderfully conscientious about clearing up their dog’s poo but, sadly, there are enough heaps left on those paths to indicate that there are some dog walkers who perhaps don’t realise that those leavings contaminate the pasture land through which the paths run and are potentially fatal to the farm animals grazing in those fields.

Such is the seriousness of this problem that the Farmers Guardian ran an article carrying the title at the top of this item as their main story on 18th March 2014.

The rogues are two parasites found in some dogs’ poo, Neospora and Sarcocystis.

Neopora eggs from the poo lurk in the grass and develop into the full-blown Neosporosis infection when the grass is eaten by the cattle.

Result? It is the main cause of abortions in infected cattle, and then leads to reduced milk yields and premature culling.

Sarcocystosis infects sheep by the same route as Neospora infects cattle. The disease can be passed from ewe to lamb and a carcass found to be infected after slaughter will be condemned.

Apart from the distress caused to farmers on discovering that their animals are so infected, the effects of these infestations on farm economics can be severe.

As with bovine TB, about which there is much more media coverage, there’s no handy vaccine or medicine available here either. Both these conditions are, currently, untreatable and once they are present on a farm, they are nigh on impossible to eradicate. To add to the difficulties, treating a dog with a wormer does not unfortunately have any effect on the parasites, only medication from the vet will be effective.

Putting this into perspective, not all dogs carry these parasites, but prevention is always better than trying to effect a cure and an essential part of the Countryside Code is that we are required to clean up after our dogs. Dog poo bags are readily available and there are many bins around our villages we urge you, please, use them.

Last updated Thursday, 3rd November 2016

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