21 February 1997

No to scab scheme

CALLS for the sheep industry to operate a statutory health certification scheme, covering scab and other diseases, have been dismissed as unworkable by the National Sheep Association.

Gerald Coles, a research scientist at Bristol University, has suggested every sheep being sold, except those going directly to abattoirs, should carry a certificate detailing its disease status.

The certificates would provide information on any treatments administered, including anthelmintics and vaccinations, and indicate whether the animal had been treated for sheep scab.

Such a scheme is the only way buyers can make informed decisions, he said. It would also force any farmers not tackling diseases properly to be more responsible or they would no longer find a market for their animals.

John Thorley, NSA chief executive, said such a health certification scheme would be the ideal scenario. But a statutory scheme would be too bureaucratic and impossible to administer.

The NSA accepted there was an urgent need to tackle the spread of diseases including sheep scab, but a voluntary approach was the way forward.

"The whole industry has to pay a lot more attention to animal health. It is a question of individual responsibility and we need a more enlightened view of what the disease problems are, rather than slapping down more legislation," he said. &#42