For anti-parastitic products to be effective they must be used according to their manufacturers’ intentions and instructions, a point no one in the industry would disagree with.
But the withdrawal last month of marketing authorisation for all dips containing cypermethrin has shown that even following these guidelines may be insufficient to ensure their continued availability.
The Vet Medicine Directorate has cited environmental concerns and the need for greater research into the environmental effects of cypermethrin dips as the reasons for their withdrawal.
Having a range of active ingredients available has enabled farmers to pick the products best suited to their own situation and use them accordingly.
Additionally, it has slowed development of resistant scab mites, something which, in light of the increasing resistance to anthelmintics, must be continued.
Farmers are now left with a choice of two product groups, organo-phospahte dips and moxidectin and doramectin-based injectables, all highly effective, but each with their own attached concerns.
Human health concerns have abounded about OP dips for many years and the argument in favour of these concerns grows by the week.
Meanwhile, increasing reliance on injectable products could ramp up resistance to their use as anthelmintic products, dramatically reducing their effectiveness for this purpose.
What all involved in the animal health product chain, from government down to farmers, must remember is that the key roles of these products are to improve productivity and preserve animal health and welfare.
Reducing the number of products available places huge pressure on both these aims, placing the future health of UK livestock at serious risk.
Farmers must now ensure remaining products are used safely and sensibly, while the Vet Medicines Directorate and animal health companies must work together to ensure cypermethrin products are back on the market as soon as possible.
Jonathan Long Livestock editor