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Bellever Herd Update

The DPHT Team alongside the Mare & Foal Sanctuary, Redwings, Dartmoor Livestock Protection and  Equus Vets have been working very hard to rid our herd of strangles which broke out on site back in August 2021.

There have been two phases of treatment which had been carefully and expertly executed by the whole team. 

The team has undertaken a massive operation to test and treat the herd at Bellever, near Postbridge. It is hoped this will eradicate the disease from this area. We also took the opportunity for the ponies to have their hooves trimmed by our farrier John Berwick, teeth checked and those without microchips have received one.

Strangles is a potentially deadly respiratory disease that is highly contagious. It is caused by a bacterial infection that can lead to swollen lymph nodes, nasal discharge and a fever. It can cause the nodes in the neck to become very swollen and abscesses sometimes form that can then burst. This leads to breathing problems for the equine and is what gives the disease its lethal name.

Strangles is spread by bodily fluids such as mucus, nasal discharge or burst abscesses from an infected equine. Most equines survive strangles but in some cases it can be fatal or have long-lasting effects. Vulnerable equines such as foals are particularly at risk.

Dartmoor has a long history of strangles outbreaks. These outbreaks are incredibly difficult to control.

The team believe that this is the first time a test and treat operation of this scale has been attempted. How effective it will be remains to be seen, but the team are very hopeful.

This project will also provide invaluable research on this contagious equine disease.

We are so very grateful for the multi-team collaboration and also to the Devon Wildlife Trust for allowing us to utilise their grazing on the perimeter of our leased site.

There will be a phase 3 treatment for those ponies that have tested positive.  We will update our news page when this is complete.

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