Scotland’s hill farmers may struggle to control tick-borne disease in their flocks this season following disruption in supplies of a vital vaccine.

NFU Scotland’s (NFUS’s) president Nigel Miller said lack of Louping-ill vaccine was a massive blow to Scottish producers who relied heavily on it to prevent the paralytic disease in sheep.

The distressing disease is specific to Scotland and is caused by a virus transmitted by ticks found in hill pastures.

“Because low volumes of the vaccine are needed each year, any disruption to supply tends to have an immediate impact on availability to those sheep farmers who rely on it,” said Mr Miller.

“Due to the late spring, tick activity is likely to have been held in stasis, but as temperatures rise an explosion of tick activity can be expected.”
NFUS president, Nigel Miller

NFUS has been in contact with the manufacturers, MSD Animal Health and Moredun, and is urging them to do all they can to get the vaccine back on line as soon as possible. However, it looks like November will be the earliest that new supplies can be expected.

This is not the first time vaccine supplies have been disrupted and NFUS is also in contact with Moredun and Scottish government to explore options that might support future vaccine production.

With no new supplies of vaccine likely this season, Mr Miller said now was the ideal time to speak to vets about disease control. “Due to the late spring, tick activity is likely to have been held in stasis, but as temperatures rise an explosion of tick activity can be expected. Daytime temperatures of 10C or above are likely to initiate high tick activity.”

More on this topic

Visit our forums to join in the discussion on Lymes disease – a tick born illness