The scab mites live on the surface of the skin causing an allergy to their droppings and it is this allergic reaction that causes the sheep to scratch. Transmission of the disease occurs primarily from sheep to sheep contact but can also occur through contact with infected areas in the environment such as rubbing against contaminated posts, transportation or handler’s clothing. The disease is highly contagious and can occur at any time of the year. Infected animals will tend to scratch large areas of their fleece resulting in extensive bald patches.
An industry led Sheep Scab Task and Finish Group has been established to make recommendations to the Animal Health and Welfare Steering Group and Welsh Ministers on the eradication of sheep scab in Wales. The group is made up of individuals from the farming unions, veterinary practitioners and other leading industry and stakeholder experts.
Dafydd Jones, group member and sheep farmer said,
“This is one issue on a farm health plan that we cannot treat alone, our treatment programme must correspond with neighbouring farms to bring this problem under control. With many farms selling their lambs on commitment on a monthly basis, along with increased meat withdrawal on many products, an outbreak during most periods of the year would jeopardise the farm system and could have a serious implication for cash flow.
Infection with sheep scab also poses a major welfare implication for infected sheep and keeping our flocks free of this disease is therefore of paramount importance.”
The seminar will update on progress and seek further input to help finalise the group’s recommendations.