28 May 1999

Cut residues in sheep hides and fleeces – EA

SHEEP producers are being encouraged to reduce pesticide residues in sheep fleeces and hides by changing dipping regimes or using alternative treatments.

The Environment Agency has recommended avoiding dipping or using pour-ons for three months before slaughter or shearing. EA pesticides manager Andy Coxford says this aims to reduce residues released into the environment when processing fleeces or hides. Processors already treat wool and skins to remove residues. "But this is expensive and not 100% successful."

Dr Coxford admits avoiding treatments could be impractical when trying to control flystrike in summer finishing lambs. He says that there are alternatives to conventional treatments, such as organic products, but he is unsure what these products cost or how effective they are.

There are also concerns over scab control, with many breeders dipping sheep before sales following auctioneers instructions to ensure they are pest free. "When they are slaughtered shortly afterwards their pesticide residues will be high.

"We are aware of the pressures to control pests and have tried to make our recommendations practical," says Dr Coxford.

Both the National Sheep Association and National Office of Animal Health were consulted and he hopes they will promote the recommendation for a three-month withdrawal period after dipping and using pour-ons.