The FUW has cautiously welcomed news that the examination of skin scrape samples from sheep showing suspect clinical signs of sheep scab is being offered free of charge in Wales by the APHA and funded by Welsh Government until 31 March 2021.
The scheme will aid accurate diagnosis, which is a prerequisite for appropriate treatment and successful control of sheep scab, a priority of the Wales Animal Health and Welfare Framework.
Furthermore, the scheme will also encourage sheep farmers to work with their veterinary surgeon to protect their flocks from sheep scab. As well as accurate diagnosis for controlling the disease if it occurs, good flock biosecurity is essential to keep it out.
It is extremely disappointing that the industry endorsed programme for the eradication of sheep scab, which was set to receive £5.1 million as part of the Rural Development Programme last year, has been thrown into the long grass, despite Welsh Government recently allocating £106 million to a number of other ‘priority’ projects.
The FUW has made it clear to Minister Lesley Griffiths that whilst this new approach addresses a small part of the issue - the testing element - it needs to be complemented with contiguous testing and co-ordinated treatment where the disease is confirmed on a farm, as was proposed by the industry-led Sheep Scab Eradication Group.
Nevertheless, the FUW is urging members to take advantage of this free testing.