Sheep farmers with scab-hit flocks sought for survey

Farmers who have seen sheep scab (psoroptic mange) in their flocks in the past 10 years are being urged to complete a 10-minute anonymous online survey.

Results from the sheep scab survey will go towards formulating effective control strategies for the future and help calculate the direct costs of sheep scab to flockmasters.

This is according to leading scab expert Peter Bates of Veterinary Medical Entomology Consultancy who says the condition costs the UK sheep sector about £8m annually.  

“Costs to the producer and the obvious suffering of the affected sheep should be the obvious reasons for effective control,” he told Farmers Weekly.

“Costs of scab come from lower performance and costs of treatment.”

See also: Test and dip is best approach for national scab control

The survey is being run by the University of Surrey.

Sheep scab in numbers

  • 18 days – how long scab mites survive in the environment and still be infective to other sheep
  • 14 days – typical lifecycle of scab mite from egg to adult
  • 10,000 cases – UK flock sees between 8,000 and 10,000 cases/year
  • 72% of cases result from infected neighbouring sheep or strays
  • £8m/year – the cost of scab to the British sheep industry 
  • 1992 – the year sheep scab was deregulated as a notifiable disease

Lower performance comes from fatalities, infertility, lower conception rates, smaller lamb crop, lower weight gain, worse carcass composition, damage to wool and leather and costs from delayed sales.

Sheep scab remains a notifiable disease in Scotland but not the rest of the UK. The Sheep Scab Order (1997) made it illegal to move or sell sheep visibly affected with scab.

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