With new sheep being introduced to farms across the country following the Autumn sales, farmers are being urged to be extra vigilant as the industry's fight against sheep scab continues.
NFU Scotland, together with the rest of the industry through the Scottish Sheep Scab Initiative, is urging farmers to immediately isolate any new animals brought onto farm and to treat for scab accordingly, either by injecting or dipping.
NFUS is also reminding its members that if they plan to dip sheep and haven't previously received authorisation from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), they should apply now. SEPA is proposing to treble the cost of authorisation from April 2006, a rise from £172 to £542.
Chairman of the Scottish Sheep Scab Initiative is Nigel Miller, NFU Scotland's Livestock Chairman, he said:
“September to October is a specific action period because of the increased threat of sheep scab spreading into new flocks. Farmers are buying animals at the sales at the moment and need to recognise the threat they could pose for the home flock.
“Without exception, new animals should be isolated immediately after they arrive on farm and should be treated for scab, preferably in the first 48 hours. Even after treatment, sheep should be kept isolated for four weeks after their arrival onto farm to give time for the treatment to work.
“If anyone is planning to dip sheep, they need to ensure they have the right SEPA authorisation. They should make sure they get it now because the cost of acquiring authorisation could go through the roof from next year. The Sheep Scab Initiative believes the proposed trebling of the cost is completely unjustified and has made those views known to SEPA. We are urging the Agency to rethink the proposal but, in the meantime, farmers should be on the safe side and get the authorisation they need now.”
· The Scottish Sheep Scab Initiative is an all-industry group including representatives from the farming sector, government, veterinary profession, State Veterinary Service, organic sector, auction markets, sheep breed societies and pharmaceutical companies. NFU Scotland chairs and co-ordinates the Initiative.
· The Sheep Scab Information Line is 0131 472 4031. Farmers can anonymously report scab outbreaks, the details of which will be passed to the local SAC Veterinary Investigation Centre. Farmers can also request an information pack with simple guidance on how to tackle scab effectively and 400 farmers have done so already.