New Test Developed to Identify Disease

Jonathan King, Centre (Quality) Manager at Wales Veterinary Science Centre

A Welsh flock and herd health project is encouraging sheep farmers to make the most of new test which aims to diagnose and monitor exposure to sheep scab.

Stoc+ works closely with the Wales Veterinary Science Centre (WVSC) and has welcomed the recent announcement of the Sheep Scab ELISA test which is now available through WVSC.

Stoc+, a project led by Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC), is one strand of the Red Meat Development Programme – a 5-year Welsh Government and European Union-funded initiative. The project is working with farmers and vets to promote proactive flock and herd health management, to help Wales lead the world in animal welfare, sustainability and efficiency.

Sheep scab can impact welfare and productivity. 24 of the sheep farms on Stoc+ having identified sheep scab as one of their priorities and are working with their vets to effectively manage the situation.

Jonathan King, Centre (Quality) Manager at WVSC explains, “This test has been developed by the Moredun Research Institute, and is another tool in the box to help farmers and their vets to control sheep scab.

“By testing a selection of the flock, farmers can have a degree of confidence about the status of their flocks if they suspect or have been informed that a neighbour has issues. For farming in general, the use of this test could lead to more targeted interventions, only treating animals when required and reducing our reliance on blanket treatments with acaricidal compounds, such as organophosphate (OP) dips and macrocyclic lactone (ML) injectables.”

Dr. Rebekah Stuart, Flock and Herd Health Executive at HCC added, “The recent announcement is great news to sheep farmers in Wales, and is a step in the right direction towards controlling and potentially eliminating sheep scab from Welsh flocks.

“Stoc+ is encouraging those farmers who may be worried about the disease and would like to make use of this new test to get in touch with their vets who can then take blood samples to submit to the WVSC.”

HCC’s Stoc+ is one of three 5-year projects in the Red Meat Development Programme which is funded by the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.