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    Sheep scab in Northern Ireland: Its distribution, costs and farmer knowledge about prevention and control

    28 June 2022

    A research paper that shines a light on the sheep scab situation in Northern Ireland has been published in Preventative Veterinary Medicine (Volume 205, August 2022).

    'Sheep scab in Northern Ireland: Its distribution, costs and farmer knowledge about prevention and control', was written by Harper Adams University PhD student Paul Crawford MRCVS, along withhis PhD supervisors Dr Philip Robinson (HAU), Dr Fiona Lovatt (University of Nottingham) and Kim Hamer (University of Glasgow).

    Highlights of the paper, which is based on a farmer questionnaire carried out in the Spring of 2021, include an overview of sheep scab distribution in Northern Ireland and an evaluation of farmers' understanding of the disease in terms of cause, transmission and cost.

    Key findings of the research include: 

    • Sheep scab appears to be widespread across Northern Ireland.
    • Only (4%) of respondants correctly answered all the questions testing their knowledge about sheep scab.
    • Sheep scab is expensive, not only in financial terms (with some outbreaks costing more than £2,500 to resolve),  but it also takes an emotional toll on the farm families involved.
    • The illegal practice of using organophosphate dip in shower systems for scab control, and the belief among farmers that this is an effective solution to scab infestation, persists.
    • The widespread nature of the disease, and the knowledge gaps, highlight the importance of further research and knowledge transfer work in this area.

    Paul's PhD is funded by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), Norther Ireland.

    To read the paper in full please visit:

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