Sheep scab: Let’s just leave it!

Sheep Scab: Let’s just leave it!

Sheep Scab:
Let’s just leave it!

We’ve been talking a lot about the crippling effects of sheep scab. But, actually, is it even that bad? It’s just a few mites that don’t even affect humans. You can still transport your flock, let’s stop making a fuss about it, right? Wrong! This blog explains exactly what would happen if everyone stopped treating sheep scab today.

No dips, please

It’s been a steady few weeks for sheep dippers up and down the country. But for in the flocks, something is a little off. The sheep are looking rather restless. They’re tossing their heads, leaving woolly gifts on the fence as they scratch away, and what remains attached is no longer quite as white.

Then, a few days later, things get stranger still. Open wounds begin to form, and some sheep may be suffering from epileptiform seizures as the population of mites increases. At this point, some of the flock won’t survive. Similar to a peanut allergy – some sheep may be more affected by mites than others. The ones that are very allergic will simply go into shock and die, while the mites attach to the remainder of the flock.

An unwelcomed distraction

It’s a week later. By now, the entire sheep flock is covered in mites and other pests such as blowflies. There’s little space left for the mites to reproduce, and the sheep is in agony. In fact, it can’t think of much else. That’s when you may find more of the flock unable to survive, as they are so affected they can no longer eat and only focus on scratching.

The long-term effect

For the remaining sheep who are stomaching the pain, things aren’t looking up anytime soon. Their immune system is now on the line, as the mites continue to work their way through into the open wounds. The rest, as they say, is history.

Sounds like a lot of unnecessary pain, right? Speaking of history – what about the olden days when sheep dipping hadn’t even been invented? Let’s take a look.

For more details on the effects check out this information from Nadis.

Uncovering a woolly history

Written accounts for treating sheep dip date as far back as 169 BC, and the first record of a sheep disease saw a control policy come into force as early as 949 AD. Whilst the infestation may have been nowhere near as large, our dependence on wool at the time would mean that the matter was taken extremely seriously.

Evidence has been found from the 16th century in the form of sheep washing areas, which proves that our ancestors were treating sheep scab even before Demelza said you had to!

Fast forward: Where are we now?

Well, a few years ago things were looking up – we had almost eradicated sheep scab in the UK entirely! But not to be the bearer of bad news, it’s back with a vengeance and at an all-time high. Untreated sheep scab is a huge problem. That’s why we’re at the forefront of a national campaign that will support farmers in getting the help they need to tackle the elephant in the room. Or, more specifically, the mites on the sheep.

Our online course is the first of its kind and offers livestock owners the ability to dip their own sheep with an accredited license which can be done completely online. We’re going to make prevention and treatment the norm again and put an end to a siloed mindset. If we ever hear the words ‘not my problem’ again after this…

Who knows, maybe your farm still has a designated sheep dipping area and with some adjustments for safety and sheep welfare could be put into use again. Maybe it’s time we all found them again and we tackle this problem of untreated sheep scab head on!

Break the Sheep Scab Cycle >

Untreated sheep scab: don’t be that farmer let’s get it sorted together!

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