The countryside is in chaos, with rotting animals lying on farms around Britain, despite the government’s announcement that dead animals can now be collected for disposal.

There is still a blanket movement ban of animals inside the foot-and-mouth (FMD) protection zone (PZ) and surveillance zone (SZ). But outside those areas directly affected by foot-and-mouth, live animals can go direct to slaughter and dead animals can be collected from farms, provided a licence is issued.

“It’s absolute chaos,” said Alastair Jackson, director of the Hunting Office. “You can only pick up if you are on the National Fallen Stock Scheme (NFSS). Very few hunts are registered and even fewer farmers are — it just didn’t catch on when it was launched.”

Jackson told H&H his phone had been “red hot” with calls from hunts and angry farmers, concerned about the growing number of maggot-infested carcasses on their land.

“We’ve been talking with DEFRA, the National Farmers Union (NFU) and vets all morning, and we’re hoping hunts will be able to register temporarily,” said Jackson.

“But to do so, they have to ring a number in London which has been engaged since 6am. When you do get through, you’re told the person you have to speak to is off today.”

He added angrily: “It’s an absolute shambles.”

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is expected to release its final report on the source of the foot-and-mouth outbreak in Surrey later this afternoon.

Last night, 300 cattle were culled from a third farm in the Pirbright area and tests are currently being run on the carcasses.

Stay in touch with all the latest developments on the FMD outbreak on horseandhound.co.uk and in H&H magazine