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Sheep Ecto-Parasite Control – Understanding Best Practice

Ectoflits OP sheep dip manufacturer, Bimeda, is calling for farmers to start planning their approach for the control of sheep ecto-parasites this autumn and winter.

One of Bimeda’s Professional Services Veterinarians, Rachel Mallet, commented, ‘at this time of year, appropriate and proactive control of ecto-parasites should be on the agenda for all sheep farmers. We are encouraging farmers who have moved away from plunge dipping with an OP dip in previous years, to reconsider this option for the control and treatment of external parasites.’

‘In the past decade or so, farmers have moved towards 3ML injections (ivermectin, doramectin and moxidectin), for the control of internal and external parasites, due to their undeniable convenience. However recent reports of resistance of sheep scab to this class of wormers, allied to the large numbers of resistant internal worms already, means that we have to think carefully about the use and particularly the overuse of these categories of wormers.’

Rachel commented further on the benefits of dipping with an OP dip, noting that ‘OP plunge dipping with a dip such as Ectoflits gives immediate ecto-parasite control and, in fact, dipping with Ectoflits is the ideal broad-spectrum method of parasite control for sheep, as this single treatment offers control and treatment of;

  • scab
  • keds
  • lice
  • blowfly

However, despite the efficacy of dip, some farmers have reservations, which are largely based around the fact that plunge dipping can be labour intensive work, which requires the use of a dipping tank and protective clothing. The Bimeda team are keen to point out that this no longer needs to be a barrier to getting sheep plunge dipped, as in recent years a number of contract mobile plunge dippers have emerged within Ireland. These dippers travel from farm to farm, using their mobile plunge dipping units to dip sheep. This removes the major barriers to dipping and makes this best practice method of ecto-parasite control both convenient and affordable. For farmers who are interested in working with a local contract plunge dipper, but are unsure how to locate one, the website sheepdippers.ie lists some of the mobile plunge dippers, who carry out this work. Bimeda also can also be called on Lo Call 1850 51 52 53 for further information. Alternatively, contact Bimeda Ireland General Manager, Andrew Glynn, on 087 252 5110.

With specific reference to sheep scab, dipping is an excellent option for the control of this notifiable disease. Critically, the scab mite can survive 17 days off fleece, for example in loose wool caught in fences in fields. Dipping is a once-off scab treatment that, in addition to killing the scab on the sheep, will protect the sheep against re-infestation for this critical 17-day period. Ectoflits OP dip also offers great value, with a three litre container sufficient to treat 500 sheep.

Many key opinion leaders are currently actively promoting OP plunge dipping as best practice. At a recent series of events in the UK focused on the best practice for the control of ecto-parasites including scab, leading voices in the field of sheep parasite control, such as Dr Peter Bates (veterinary entomologist and sheep scab expert), Lesley Stubbings OBE ( independent sheep consultant/SCOPS) and Rebecca Mearns (Senior Veterinary Advisor of Biobest) all spoke in favour of plunge dipping. This message was reinforced by Teagasc at the Sheep 2018 Event in Athenry this summer.

Of course, no treatment method can, or should, ever seek to replace prevention, and Bimeda are strong advocates of ensuring that good biosecurity measures are in place, to reduce the likelihood of outbreaks of ectoparasites. Scab, in particular, can be difficult to prevent, as in the early, sub-clinical stages of disease, even though sheep are infected, there may be no visible clinical signs. This means that animals which appear perfectly healthy, with no skin lesions, bald patches or pulled wool, can in fact be carrying scab mites. This is why sheep scab can be so easily introduced into the flock when buying animals in, and adequate quarantine procedures are vital. New sheep should be kept separate from the flock, at the periphery of the farm, with bio-secure double fencing. Where it is not possible to quarantine purchased sheep, sheep should be presumed infected and treated with a licenced sheep dip such as Ectoflits.

To learn more about sheep ecto-parasite control and best practice for its control and treatment, as well as to locate your nearest contract mobile plunge dipper, visit sheepdippers.ie or call Bimeda on 1850 51 52 53

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