18 August 1995

Key steps to beat scab

NEW plans to eradicate sheep scab have been presented to MAFF. The Sheep Scab Action Group, made up of industry leaders, met last week at the National Sheep Associations headquarters in Malvern, Worcs. It recommended three key steps:

&#8226 An intensive publicity and education campaign.

&#8226 Regional strategy groups in areas where scab is a recognised problem.

&#8226 Legislation to enforce an efficient eradication programme.

"Farmers are now aware scab is a growing problem, but only those with sheep which have been affected know what it looks like," said George Lyon, from the Scottish NFU. "Education is the first line of defence for the industry. The aim of regional strategy groups is to crack the problem on a self-help basis."

The group recommended a compulsory treatment period to prevent the spread of disease. "Legislation is needed to ensure that all farmers comply. But first we must prove to MAFF that the drive to eradicate scab is coming from the industry," said Mr Lyon.

The group agrees scab should be a notifiable disease but, according to Campbell Tweed, of the Ulster Farmers Union, it is not practical unless there is effective treatment.

The Sheep Scab Action Groups plans follow a programme suggested by Australian vet John Plant. He believes the principle behind a New South Wales foot rot strategy could be adapted to rid UK flocks of sheep scab (see p41 for more details).