Sheep industry takes on challenge of scab and dip pollution issues

Sheep farmers attending this week’s Sheep 2006 event at Malvern were urged to embrace two major campaigns – one to reduce sheep scab and the other to cut pollution from sheep dip.

Speaking to Farmers Weekly, immediate past chairman of the National Sheep Association Peter Baber said the Sheep Scab Initiative, which will be rolled out this autumn, could save the sector millions of pounds.

“The overall aim has to be to eliminate the disease from UK flocks.

It is an easily treatable and preventable condition, so with some forethought and coordination it can be eradicated.”

Mr Baber explained that scab currently costs sheep farmers on three counts, prevention, treatment and lost productivity of infected sheep.

“It causes problems for the individual sheep affected and for flocks in general.

But because the mites are so easily spread from flock to flock, sheep farmers need to work together to help keep flocks free of infection.”

Infected sheep in an area are a reservoir of disease and can cause re-infection to neighbouring flocks all too easily, explained Mr Baber.

“It is costly and pointless applying preventative treatments to flocks when other neighbouring flocks fail to do the same.”

Also launched at the event, was the NFU’s Stop Every Drop campaign to raise awareness among sheep farmers of the need to prevent watercourses becoming polluted with sheep dip.

NFU livestock adviser Alistair Johnson said by following the campaign’s practical steps farmers would help maintain the widest possible selection of dip products and stave off the need for increased regulation.

For more on both the Sheep Scab Initiative and the Stop Every Drop Campaign see p39.