26 May 1995

Keep clean and scab free

THE risk of spreading scab at shearing is low, but producers should ensure shearers equipment and clothing is thoroughly clean before coming on farm.

The advice comes from Peter Bates, senior scientific officer in parasitology at the Central Veterinary Laboratory, Surrey.

"Mites, which can survive 14 days away from sheep, die when exposed to heat and sunlight, but cutters and combs can become contaminated when there is a lesion bigger than 100sq cm," he says.

"Chances of spreading scab will depend on the quality of the shearer. When ridges of wool are left the mite will be unaffected. Wool must be taken down to skin level."

And Dr Dermot OBrien, senior veterinary research officer for the Department of Agriculture, Dublin, Eire, warns the spread of scab is only suppressed at shearing.

So when scabby sheep are shorn they should not mix with the rest of the flock because the mite will spread when the wool grows later in the season.

"Producers are not treating scab properly because they are not using sufficient or the right treatment," he explains. &#42