Use of jetters and showers is banned when using OP dip

Sheep Scab: What are your options?

A woolly labyrinth

Sheep scab is at an all-time high. In fact, it’s classed as an endemic across the UK. So, if you’re caught in the wooly labyrinth of products and solutions, you’ve come to the right place.

A farmers’ intuition is often right. But, when it comes to sheep scab, the infection is so serious and spreads so quickly, preventative measures are needed to ensure your flock stays protected from the outset. Treating every arriving sheep as though it already has sheep scab is the only way to do this effectively. Below, you’ll find a range of options you may be faced with in the quest to eradicate the infection. We’ll go through each option and find the best one for you.

So, you reckon you've a keen eye for scab. Tell me which sheep has scab?

Sheep scab is on the rise
Sheep scab is on the rise

Take the plunge with sheep dipping

Sheep dipping is the only fool-proof way to treat scab, blowfly ticks, keds and lice all in one, which is why it is our preferred method of choice. With sheep scab being so rife in the UK right now, lots of sheep farmers may be unable to access sheep dipping contractors to help them sort the problem. However, there is another way, which might be easier than you think.

With a little investment, you can tackle the sheep scab problem yourself, and dip your own sheep regularly to prevent reinfection. First, you need to find a training provider to gain your certificate of competence. That’s where we come in. With our online course, the first of its kind in the UK, you can learn everything at your own pace and prepare for your face-to-face assessment. This is perfect for livestock owners, who often cannot leave their animals for long periods of time to learn away from home and have busy work lives.

Once you have your certificate of competence to hand, you can buy the organophosphate (OP) product, such as Bimeda’s Gold Fleece that you need to add to the dip bath. Then sort your disposal options and bathing system out, permanent or mobile, and there you have it, you have your own sheep dipping set up, which can be used throughout the year where necessary.

Are injectables getting pushed out?

Injectables may seem like an obvious choice – who wants to spend their afternoon wrestling sheep into a cold bath at arm’s length? However, there is evidence to show that this approach, as a preventative treatment, may not be as effective as it once was.

Injectables do have a place in the arsenal of options available, but now need careful consideration as to the best way forward, when treating external parasites such as mites, lice, ticks, keds or blowflies, which may need to be treated with a range of products rather than just one.

Furthermore, there is evidence to show that injectables are creating resistance issues such as roundworm resistance, as the injectable treatment tackles both sheep scab and roundworms. Overtreatment of roundworms will ultimately create a need for stronger, more expensive medication, which may not even be available.

We need to have a strategy in place as to the most effective way forward, make sure to speak with your Vet and have those health plans in place for your flock. 

Pulling the plug on jetters and showers

Organophosphate (OP) products are designed for use in a sheep bath. Hence the term ‘plunge dipping’.

For some years now, the use of jetters or showers as a ‘quick win’ alternative has been banned.  SCOPS highlighted in an article a tough new line on jetters and showers in controlling sheep scab. Because, in the UK, there are no veterinary products licensed for use in jetters or showers! Gold Fleece is only licensed for use with a plunge bath, it is ILLEGAL to use Gold Fleece OP dip in a shower or jetter. We are taking a hard line on this!

Why? Well, sheep dipping aka plunge dipping sheep is the only way to get the product down to the skin and in the ears so it will kill the scab mites. Showers and jetters simply cannot achieve this level and depth of coverage and reinfestation arises. Even if it does somehow manage to kill the ectoparasites, you will not achieve the ongoing protection that the product is capable of, reinfestation is likely and god forbid we end up with resistance due to misuse. 

In addition, jetters and showers are just not safe. They create dangerous vapers and mists which you are far more likely to inhale, resulting in ill health through contamination.

Do you know that:

  • dipping for less than 60 seconds results in 60% failure to cure sheep scab
  • the diazinon (active ingredient) needs time to bind to the fleece and fully penetrate into the fleece: 
    • if you only dip for 20 seconds, 50% less dip is absorbed into the fleece
    • if you only dip for 40 seconds, 38% less dip is absorbed into the fleece

YOU must make sure that EVERY sheep is in the bath for the full minute. 


In summary

We understand that when you’re faced with sheep scab, you just want to find a way out. However, careful consideration should be made at this point, as choosing an outdated, dangerous problematic solution could cost you far more in the long run.

And in case your wondering which sheep had scab at the start of the article, its both!

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