By Tamara Cohen
Last updated at 11:53 PM on 26th February 2012
A virus which causes lambs to be born dead or with serious deformities is sweeping farms.
The Schmallenberg virus, which also affects cattle, has already struck 74 farms in southern and eastern England, killing thousands of animals.
Some farmers have reported losing 20 per cent of their lambs since it arrived in the country last month from Europe, where 1,000 farms are affected.
Lambs with the virus are either stillborn or have horrific deformities such as fused limbs, misshapen heads and twisted necks which mean they cannot survive.
Scientists are urgently trying to find out how the disease spreads to prevent it blighting Britain’s livestock like the 2001 foot and mouth outbreak which resulted in millions of animals being slaughtered.