Sheep group highlights 'tough line' on jetters and showers

Sheep farmers say it is 'important' to protect the efficacy of OP dips
Sheep farmers say it is 'important' to protect the efficacy of OP dips

The importance of not using organophosphate (OP) products in livestock showers has been highlighted in order to 'protect' the future of sheep scab control.

Recent guidance issued by the Animal Medicines Training Regulatory Authority (AMTRA) and supported by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) says that the sheep sector must not use OP products in jetters and showers.

The Sustainable Control of Parasites in Sheep (SCOPS) has welcomed the guidance and is highlighting the importance of following it.

The group said the use of such products in showers or jetters has gone 'widely unchallenged' in the past.

In the UK, there are no veterinary products licenced to use through jetters or showers.

Lesley Stubbings of SCOPS said: “We already know some sheep scab mites are resistant to the injectable products, which means it is more important than ever to preserve the efficacy of the organophosphate dips.

“Exposing scab mites to a sub-lethal dose of OP in jetters and showers is an ideal way to encourage resistance to develop and we cannot afford to continue taking that risk.

“Plunge dipping is the only way to get the OP down to the skin so it can kill all the mites.

“Showers and jetters simply cannot achieve that so, if you use one of these methods, all the industry bodies involved in SCOPS are united in urging you to stop,” she said.

National Sheep Association (NSA) is one of several industry bodies involved in SCOPS. It said the 'tough line' on jetters and showers has 'not been taken lightly'.

Chief Executive Phil Stocker said: “We know farmers and contractors have invested heavily in such equipment; historically they have even been incentivised by grants and loans to encourage their use, and it is very frustrating to be told they should no longer be used.

“But we cannot emphasise enough how important it is to protect the efficacy of OP dips, which are just not suitable for use in jetters and showers.

“While our focus is on scab and OPs, sub-lethal doses of any product via a jetter or shower, for any kind of external parasite, are of equal concern.”

He added: “I know that abandoning what has long been seen as a useful tool in our armoury, walking away from equipment we were previously encouraging the use of, will anger a lot of farmers and contractors.

“But NSA and others would not take this hard line if we did not believe the new advice was scientifically sound and absolutely crucial to our future fight against scab.”