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Business / New dip facility aims to reduce chance of imported sheep scab

Photo: SLMG

A NEW sheep dipping facility will be opened shortly at Staney Hill in Lerwick.

The mobile dipper will be operated by the Shetland Livestock Marketing Group (SLMG) to enable the dipping of sheep imported to the isles.

More information can be found here.

Its aim is to reduce the chances of sheep scab being introduced to Shetland. The first case of the scab in almost 30 years was identified earlier this year in an imported ram, leading to thousands in local flocks being treated.

Under the new dipper project sheep imported to Shetland will be tested and treated by the local vet practice at the pier as usual.

The owner/importer will then be responsible for transporting the animals to the marts.

The sheep will then be dipped and the owner/importer can transport them home. 

For the new service to be viable, shipping of sheep into Shetland will be consolidated onto certain days.

These can be found on the SIC website or by phoning NorthLink. Shipping will be available on non-consolidated days but there will be an additional charge to set up and operate the dipper.

Notice of intention to ship on non-consolidated days should be given to Shetland Vets and Brendon Smith, SLMG dipping crew, with at least a week’s notice.

Charges will be set at £41 plus VAT per sheep. This includes the charges for the Zolvix drench and Cydectin LA injection which the vets give at the pier. 

The additional charge for non-consolidated days is £150 per importer. The service is due to launch on Wednesday.

Sheep scab is becoming more common in mainland Scotland and it is now recognised that scab mites which are resistant to injectable products are present in Scotland. These resistant mites can only be treated by dipping.

Shetland Vets veterinary surgeon Karis Johnson said: “We hope it can be understood that dipping sheep on import to Shetland has become the next essential step in helping to preserve Shetland’s animal health status.

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“The recent introduction of sheep scab to Shetland came as a sharp reminder of how easily our status can be compromised.

“Despite this, the breach reiterated the excellent and prompt response the Shetland Animal Health Scheme (SAHS) can coordinate to control such an outbreak and should remind us of what a great resource we have in the scheme.

“It is therefore hoped all producers will do their utmost to comply with the new procedures to assist the SAHS in maintaining the high health status of Shetland’s stock.

“As ever, Shetland Vets are happy to assist with any queries or concerns you may have.”

Graham Fraser, senior consultant at Scotland’s Rural College, added: “Hopefully everyone importing sheep will do their upmost to co-operate with these arrangement and ensure we keep Shetland free from scab and other diseases.

“I would also urge farmers and crofters to avoid importing female sheep into Shetland unless it is critical to their business. Every additional female imported increases the risk of importing the devastating disease of Enzootic Abortion of Ewes (EAE)”.

Lorna Scott, regional policy advisor for the local farmers’ union branch, said: ‘We had a nasty surprise earlier in the year with the scab outbreak, something that hadn’t happened in Shetland for decades.

“This caused significant cost, stress and work for all affected. The new dipping facility at the Marts is really the only way we can do our best to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

“Shetland’s excellent animal health status is something to be protected and invested in, it adds a premium to our stock and means we don’t have many of the expensive and extremely damaging issues faced by farmers down south.

“It is all of our responsibility to protect this status. The easiest way is to buy local stock as far as possible, and dip anything coming up, as well as isolating it and keeping a close eye for any symptoms.”

For further information contact the Shetland vet practice on 01595 810456 or Brendon Smith from the SLMG dipping crew on 07501 924 820.

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