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Further British areas struck by Schmallenberg

Two more British counties have uncovered cases of Schmallenberg as the tally of affected farms in the country continues to climb.

The virus has now been confirmed on 145 farms, with two of these in the more northerly counties of Leicestershire and Lincolnshire.

Disease experts believe that the virus is no longer spreading due to the absence of the midges that are thought to have crossed the English Channel from continental Europe with the disease last summer.

However, there is some concern among sheep farmers that the virus could emerge on Irish soil through the importation of stock from Britain.

There are no restrictions on farmers or meat plants importing stock from Britain and the latest figures from Bord Bia suggest that more than 70,000 sheep were imported into Ireland during the first nine weeks of this year.

However, most of these come from Northern Ireland.

The data states that all of these sheep were shipped directly to Irish meat processors, although more than 10,000 sheep were imported from Britain and Northern Ireland for breeding purposes last year.

James Murphy, the IFA's sheep chairman, urged farmers to remain cautious about importing any sheep from abroad.

Darragh McCullough

Indo Farming