11 April 1997

Farmer to carry on fight for sheep dip compensation

By Allan Wright

THE resistance of some sheep scab mites to the flumethrin dip, Bayticol, has cost one Scottish farmer £8500.

He is seeking compensation from manufacturer Bayer. But the company denies liability because the product was relabelled last May. The new label says Bayticol is "for the prevention and control of pyrethroid sensitive strains of sheep scab, ticks, lice, and keds".

Tom Menzies, Hollandbush, Dumfriesshire, says the admission that relabelling was needed after resistance to Bayticol was discovered is proof that the product should not be sold as a scab-approved dip.

"How can a farmer be expected to know if the scab mite is resistant or not? He is not a chemist, but buys the product in good faith and then finds it is ineffective," says Mr Menzies.

He sold 384 store lambs in November to a Yorks client who insisted the stock be dipped for scab before delivery. The lambs were dipped, and the first load of 145 sent to Yorks a fortnight later.

"The buyer reported that the sheep were still itching, so we dipped the remainder again and then had our vet take fleece samples and skin scrapings when it was clear the dipping had not worked. The report showed that we had dipped correctly but had resistant mites," says Mr Menzies.

That was confirmed in a letter from Bayer. It stated there were high levels of flumethrin, the active ingredient of Bayticol, in the fleece samples, indicating that the sheep had been dipped correctly and that the product was correctly formulated.

"In spite of these high levels of flumethrin, live scab mites were found in skin scrapings taken by your vet …highly indicative of resistance," the letter said.

On the advice of the area representative for Bayer, Mr Menzies submitted a loss claim on Feb 22 amounting to £8500. Bayers reply said "the presence of resistance is not indicative of a fault in Bayticol but reflects a change in the biology of the parasite.

"We do not believe there is a fault with Bayticol but rather that there are populations of sheep scab mite which are not susceptible to synthetic pyrethroids such as flumethrin."

Possible ineffectiveness

And a letter on Apr 1 from group legal adviser Kevin Byrne stated that by changing the label, sufficient notice had been given of the possible ineffectiveness of Bayticol.

"It will, therefore, not be possible to offer any compensation to you for your losses," added Mr Byrne.

Mr Menzies is continuing to fight the case and is considering action against his supplier who sold Bayticol as the recommended treatment for sheep scab.

Tom Menzies: Dipped correctly but resistant mites were found.