This proposal aims to develop foundational knowledge crucial to the development of control and eradication strategies for major endemic diseases of sheep within Northern Ireland (NI) using Sheep Scab as an exemplar disease. Data will be gathered from 100 flocks reporting the presence of Sheep Scab. Collected data will include; on farm management practices such as grazing strategies, infection risk factors such as inter and intra flock animal movements, current on-farm parasite treatment and prophylaxis strategies, and attitudes and behaviours relating to endemic sheep diseases including sheep scab. This data will be used for economic and environmental modelling of sheep scab. This modelling will focus on structural constraints and barriers to control and on the effects of sheep scab infestation on Greenhouse Gas Emissions at the farm and regional levels. Flocks enrolled in the project will be provided with an on-farm infection investigation. This will be conducted by veterinary surgeons trained and funded by the project. These investigations will include on-farm data collection and animal diagnostics for sheep scab using a blood test ELISA. Flocks with confirmed infestation will be provided with appropriate treatment materials by the project. Follow-up investigations will be offered where there is apparent treatment failure. This will assess whether there is evidence of treatment failure including if there is evidence of acaracide resistance. On the basis of this, further advice will be given to the farmer to support future prevention, treatment and control decision making. Summary findings from the project will be fed back to farmers and representative groups, the wider NI farming industry through the local farming press and social media as well as the UK industry through the Ruminant Health and Welfare Group. Key findings from this project will feed directly into the framing and development of future intervention plans for endemic diseases of sheep within NI.

Contact details:

Dr Stewart Burgess

Principal Research Scientist

Moredun Research Institute