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Go With The Flow on Scottish Sheep Scab Order

In response to the introduction of new controls to deal with the increasing incidence of sheep scab in Scotland, NFU Scotland is distributing a simple flow chart for its sheep-keeping members to follow if they suspect an outbreak of the disease.

The new Sheep Scab Order, introduced in Scotland on Friday, 17 December 2010, involves a large element of self-policing with a legal obligation on any person who suspects sheep in their possession or care may be infected by sheep scab to notify the local Divisional Veterinary Manager (DVM) as soon as possible. Movement restrictions will then apply until the sheep are either treated, slaughtered or a negative veterinary diagnosis is obtained.

If, however, problems are picked up at a market or by neighbours then conventional enforcement rolls out with local authority enforcement officers in control of the process.   Keepers who fail to take action then will have movement restrictions imposed on their flock and will be required to arrange for a veterinary investigation to be carried out at their own expense. They will also be required to either treat or slaughter animals, unless a negative diagnosis is received and they will be liable for prosecution if they fail to take action.

To help members comply with the new legislation, NFUS is distributing a simple flow chart that plots out the steps that anyone who suspects sheep scab should follow.  It is available to members on the website and will be issued to members in a forthcoming edition of the Union’s monthly membership magazine.

NFU Scotland Livestock Policy Manager Penny Johnston said:

“Sheep scab is the most contagious parasitic disease of sheep. The removal of compulsory dipping in 1992 resulted in the incidence of sheep scab rising considerably and even those flocks with good treatment regimes are continuously fighting against re-infection. The reality is that all sheep keepers are at risk of scab and this system is designed so that we can all be open about scab problems.

“With our full backing and support, the Scottish Government has developed legislation that will hopefully see sheep scab incidence brought under control by bringing in a two track approach.  Those who identify the disease in their flock can self-report and treat.

“Crucially, the legislation also provides stronger powers to force those keepers harbouring the disease to treat their animals if disease is discovered at markets or by neighbours.  This will hopefully help bring to an end the frustration that many Scottish sheep keepers experience, going to the expense of repeatedly having to deal with sheep scab while less scrupulous neighbours do nothing to deal with the disease.

“The work done in the fifties, sixties and seventies shows that eradication of this distressing disease of sheep is possible.  Compliance with this new order is in the best interests of all Scottish sheep farmers, will improve the welfare of our sheep flocks and strip out the huge annual cost to the Scottish industry of having to continually deal with the problem of sheep scab.”    

Information is available to members at the following link: http://www.nfus.org.uk/members-area/commodities/beef-and-sheep/information-archive/13089

 Notes to Editors

Requirements under the new Sheep Scab Order

Any person who suspects a sheep may be infected by sheep scab must notify the DVM.   Where the presence of sheep scab is suspected movement restrictions are triggered, prohibiting the movement of sheep onto or off the premises until either:

  • All affected sheep or carcasses have been either treated or disposed of and the owner/keeper has notified the DVM, in writing, within 2 weeks of treatment including (i) the date of treatment, (ii) the number of animals treated and (iii) the treatment used.
  • A veterinary surgeon has notified the DVM that in their opinion there are no affected sheep or carcasses on the premises and has not been for at least 16 days.

Exceptions to the movement restrictions allow sheep to move for treatment or slaughter. Animals moving to slaughter must move direct to slaughter and be transported separately from other livestock. They must be slaughtered as soon as possible on arrival at the slaughterhouse and within 72 hours. Animals may also be moved under a licence issued by an Inspector or in accordance with a clearance notice. The owner/keeper must take any necessary steps to prevent affected sheep from straying or coming into contact with sheep from outside the premises.

Powers to enforce treatment where suspected sheep scab is left untreated

On premises where an Inspector suspects that sheep or carcasses are affected with sheep scab and it has been left untreated by the owner or keeper the Inspector may issue a notice requiring a Veterinary enquiry. The notice requires the person in charge of the affected animals to arrange and pay for a veterinary enquiry to be carried out to determine if sheep scab is present on the premises. Movement restrictions will be applied to the premises during the veterinary enquiry and until either:

  • All affected sheep or carcasses have been either treated or disposed of and the owner/keeper has notified the DVM, in writing, within 2 weeks of treatment including (i) the date of treatment, (ii) the number of animals treated and (iii) the treatment used.
  • A veterinary surgeon has notified the DVM that in their opinion there are no affected sheep or carcasses on the premises and has not been for at least 16 days.

Exceptions to the movement restrictions allow sheep to move for treatment or slaughter. Animals moving to slaughter must move direct to slaughter and be transported separately from other livestock. They must be slaughtered as soon as possible on arrival at the slaughterhouse and within 72 hours. Animals may also be moved under a licence issued by an Inspector or in accordance with a clearance notice. The owner/keeper must take any necessary steps to prevent affected sheep from straying or coming into contact with sheep from outside the premises.

Markets

If Inspectors reasonably suspect that sheep or carcasses at a market or place of exhibition may be affected by sheep scab they may issue a notice requiring the animals or carcasses to be removed from the premises. Following a notice being served the owner/keeper must move the sheep either:

  • Directly to a slaughterhouse, provided it is moved directly and separately from other sheep. It must be slaughtered as soon as possible upon arrival and within 72 hours.
  • Back to the premises from which the animal was bought to the market/exhibition for treatment.
  • To another premises approved by the Inspector for detention and isolation.

The Inspector may also serve a notice on the occupier/person in charge of the market or place of exhibition to arrange for cleansing of specified areas.

Ends

Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006

Date Published:

News Article No.: 174/10


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