NI Sheep Scab control project gets underway

Date published: 07 July 2022

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A multidisciplinary research project to tackle sheep scab in NI has been launched recently, which will be undertaken by AFBI, NI Sheep Scab Group; Moredun Research Institute and AHWNI. The project, entitled “Factors influencing endemic disease in the NI sheep flock” was funded by BBSRC to the tune of £220k.

This grassroots initiative, which will get underway in July 2022, will see farmers, vets and other industry professionals unite to tackle the devastating disease which has bedevilled the sheep farming community and their flocks for decades.

Members of The Northern Ireland Sheep Scab Group with industry partners at the official launch of the Sheep Scab Eradication Programme which was hosted at Ulster Wool with Kenny Little Farm Services’ mobile dipper.
The launch of the project follows three years of industry-led activity spearheaded by the Northern Ireland Sheep Scab Group, whose main objective was to consider how to achieve better control of the disease across the country. Despite currently being a notifiable disease in Northern Ireland, very little research has historically been undertaken into how it is spread and more importantly, how it can be eradicated.

Extensive farm-level research and interviews with farmers and vets will be carried out to find out how widespread the problem is and identify barriers to its control. AFBI’s role in the project is to undertake economic and environmental modelling of the sheep scab disease. This includes analysing farmers’ perception of sheep scab, their understanding of transmission, biosecurity measures, structural constraints and barriers to control in NI.

The group discussed the benefits of improved on-farm dipping facilities during the launch with representatives of SFS Plastics.
AFBI will also be evaluating the impact of the diseases on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at both the farm and NI level based on production losses and the modelling of the effect of reducing and eradicating sheep scab from the NI flock on GHG emissions".

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