15 September 1995

NAACclaims sheep scab out of control

By Shelley Wright

SHEEP scab is spreading out of control and all farmers should dip their flocks even if there is no clinical sign of the disease.

The National Association of Agricultural Contractors advice is based on evidence from its members who provide scanning, dipping, and flock management services. They report that scab has spread to most parts of Britain since MAFF removed compulsory dipping.

Tim Wilkinson, chairman of the NAAC sheep contractors section, said: "Some of our farmer customers have never seen scab and are finding out for the first time just how expensive an outbreak can be." He added that many farmers were buying sheep which, although showing no signs of the disease, were already infected with scab. The disease was then spread to the home flock.

"Our members continue to report cases where some store lambs have not gained a gramme of weight after six weeks of expensive feeding because they are infected with scab mites.

"Both in terms of animal welfare and financial loss, this is crippling and totally unnecessary because it can be prevented easily and cheaply. The only consolation is that, once a customer has experienced an outbreak, he never wants to go through it again," Mr Wilkinson said.