The devastating events at Woodlands Farm, Mont-à-l’Abbé, in which 112 dairy cows at a Jersey farm have fallen ill over this past week, are now only too well-known around the Island and the shocking incident has been reported upon by the news-gathering media.
These notes are primarily for readers living overseas who may not have yet learnt of this disaster.
An investigation is now underway to try and find out the cause of the illness, which has led to the precautionary destruction of 33,000 litres of milk.
It has been described as the worst incident to hit the Islands dairy farming sector in the last 40 years.
The dead cattle have been taken to the Animal Carcass Incinerator.
It is suspected that contaminated feed is responsible for the deaths, which formed the farm’s high-yielding ‘Group A’ herd of top producing cattle. The farm also has a separate ‘group B’ herd of around 100 cattle that have not been affected.
Samples of the feed have been sent for analysis.
A major question at the moment is why the same imported feed, which was used by other Island herds, did not affect them.
33,000 litres of milk collected from across the Island on Friday and stored at Jersey Dairy – which included some from cows from the farm –are being disposed of as a precaution.
Minister for the Environment Deputy Jonathan Renouf said: ‘We don’t yet know, for sure, what has caused this devastating loss of so many of this dairy herd, and my thoughts are with all those at the farm having to come to terms with what’s happened. The analysis of the samples will tell us more, but this can take around a week due its specialist nature.
‘I’m reassured to hear that no milk from the specifically affected sub herd has entered the food chain, and that every precaution has been taken to safeguard public and animal health. Discussions are underway about how best to dispose of the milk currently in storage.’
A statement from the Jersey Dairy said: ‘Everyone at the Dairy is totally devastated with what has happened at Woodlands Farm and our thoughts are with the owners, the Le Boutillier family, and all their team at this very tragic time.
‘Losing part of a herd like this is heart-breaking. We can’t imagine how difficult this is for Charlie Le Boutillier, his family and all at Woodlands. Words cannot express the heartache we feel for them, and we cannot begin to understand the shock that they must be feeling.
‘We hope they can find the strength and guidance to bring them through this difficult and tragic time.
‘Investigations are continuing to determine the root cause of what has happened at Woodlands. We know that it is an isolated incident and that no other farms are affected.’
‘We have been working with Public Health to ensure that there is no risk to consumers and would like to assure our customers that none of our products contain milk from the affected farm.’
Jersey has seen a terrible run-up to this year’s Christmas, with the loss of the cattle being the third in a series of tragedies over the past few weeks the loss of a fishing boat and its three crew members, and the explosion in a block of flats, that have killed ten residents and displaced many neighbours.