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Open Access Research article

No long-term influence of movement restriction regulations on the contact-structure between and within cattle holding types in the Netherlands

Henriëtte Brouwer1*, Chris J M Bartels1, Arjan Stegeman2 and Gerdien van Schaik1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Diagnostics, Research & Epidemiology, GD Animal Health Service Ltd, Deventer, the Netherlands

2 Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Farm Animal Health, Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases, Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands

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BMC Veterinary Research 2012, 8:188  doi:10.1186/1746-6148-8-188

Published: 11 October 2012



More and more countries hold databases on cattle movements. The primary purpose of the registration of cattle movements is to provide data for quick tracing of contagious animals in case of disease outbreaks and food safety scares. Nevertheless, these data can also be used for analytical studies to get insight into the nature of the contact structure between and within cattle holding types. This paper focuses on the effect post-2001 FMD movement regulations have had on the number of cattle movements between different and within the same cattle holding types. Important characteristics and dynamics of cattle movement patterns of Dutch cattle holding types were identified using data on cattle movements after the 2001 FMD outbreak.


The results showed that in 2001, just after the FMD outbreak when strict movement restriction regulations were in force, a reduced number of cattle movements was seen compared to before the FMD outbreak. However, the number of cattle movements off-farm for live trade and the number of imported cattle increased in the period 2002–2004 to higher levels than expected, i.e. to levels almost as high as before the FMD outbreak, despite operative movement restriction regulations. As the number of cattle movements to and from traders strongly decreased just after the FMD outbreak in 2001, traders regained their central role again in the network in the years 2002–2004.


Quantifying the Dutch cattle contact structure between and within holding types up to 3.5 years after the FMD outbreak gave evidence that the post-FMD movement restriction regulations were not able to reduce the number of cattle movements in the longer term. With that the risk of a large epidemic increased. Quantifying contact structures based on animal movement data between different and within the same cattle holding types is important for targeting disease control and for assessing compliance with legislation.