Farming

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Dipping still has place in parasite fight

After a winter like the one we've just experienced, it is hard to imagine conditions ever being suitable again to support blow fly strike. The rain has often been horizontal on this farm during the last number of months.

However, following the coldest March for decades, the weather has finally started to turn.

In recent years, we have witnessed the availability of many pour-on type products for the control of fly strike in sheep and the use of injectables for the control of scab.

Importantly, the active ingredient in some injectables is the same as the active ingredient found in some worm drenches and there are concerns in Britain over the potential role this might play in anthelmintic resistance development.

Control

However, dipping still forms an important part of the ecto-parasite control strategy on many farms.

There are a number of products available for sheep dipping and I don't intend to go into the details of any individual product.

What is important, regardless of the product, is that you follow the manufacturer's guidelines closely to ensure the best response to the product and the maximum return on your investment.

Organophosphate (OP) dips were the traditional category of products used for dipping sheep, but their usage has declined due to their potential health impacts on farmers.

Nonetheless, they are still an option. If they are being used, it is essential that every precaution to protect your own health is taken, including a well-ventilated site and investment in all the appropriate personal protective equipment.

You cannot put a price on your own health or that of your family members.

Dipping can be stressful on the sheep as well and precautions to protect the animal need to be taken.

Rest

Sheep should not be dipped when full, heated, wet, tired or thirsty, or when they have open wounds. Sheep should be dipped after two to three hours rest, early in the day on a dry day.

Lambs should be dipped separately from ewes to minimise the risk of lambs suffocating or drowning. Rams and fat stock may require assistance through the dip tub.

With the use of OP dips, care should be taken to avoid using any drenches that may interact with the OP dips. Allow an appropriate lag time between dipping and drenching if this is an issue.

All this information is available on the leaflets provided by the manufacturers with the products.

Post-dipping lameness can also be a concern and may be caused by excessively dirty dipping solutions.

Once again, this is a problem that correct management can help to avoid.

Irish Independent