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HomeFarming NewsNew ‘ground-breaking’ project to tackle sheep scab
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnanehttps://www.thatsfarming.com/
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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New ‘ground-breaking’ project to tackle sheep scab

Sheep Scrab Project

A new “ground-breaking” £220,000 project aims to tackle sheep scab in Northern Ireland.

The initiative will see farmers, vets, and other industry professionals unite to tackle the “devastating” disease.

Members of The Northern Ireland Sheep Scab Group joined with partners, Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI), Animal Health and Welfare NI (HWNI) and project leader, Moredun Research Institute, at Ulster Wool on Tuesday, May 24th, 2022, for the official launch.

The partners and their roles:

  • Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute will assess the economic and environmental impact of sheep scab and other sheep diseases;
  • Animal Health and Welfare Northern Ireland will manage the programme;
  • Moredun Research Institute’s Stuart Burgess will lead the project.

This comes after the partnership received a grant from the Biotechnical and Biological Sciences Research Centre (BBSRC) as part of its endemic diseases of livestock programme.

The £220,000 programme comprises five foci which partners will use to inform future research and will get underway in July 2022.

Meetings 

These include a series of farmer and vet meetings, on-farm visits and data collection and analysis.

  • Vet meetings: During which practitioners will receive training to conduct on-farm visits, which the scheme will pay for;
  • On-farm visits: Vets will be able to diagnose and treat sheep scab. They will gather information about the outbreak and take time to address other concerns farmers may have about flock health;
  • Farmer meetings: A series of events which will see farmers and vets come together to share knowledge and concerns about the condition;
  • Data collection and analysis: This will focus on the prevalence and distribution of sheep scab. They will evaluate its cost to the economy, animal and human welfare and the environment.
 Northern Ireland Sheep Scab Group

The launch follows three years of industry-led activity that the Northern Ireland Sheep Scab Group spearheaded.

The industry established the group in 2019 amid growing concern from farmers and the wider veterinary community about increasing levels of sheep scab spreading through national flocks.

The group’s main objective was to consider how to achieve better control of the disease across the country.

They quickly identified a lack of research in the field as one of the main stumbling blocks.

Members concluded that extensive farm-level research and interviews with farmers and vets would be required to find out how widespread the problem is and identify barriers to its control.

Submitting a funding bid, which was “ultimately successful”, was the impetus the group needed to launch the project.

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