In the guide
This guidance is for England & Wales
Under the Sheep Scab Order 1997 it is a criminal offence if owners or keepers of sheep fail to treat sheep visibly affected with sheep scab.
Local authorities can control the movement of sheep that are affected by sheep scab, and require treatment of those sheep if necessary.
Sheep scab is an acute or chronic form of allergic dermatitis caused by the faeces of a mite called Psoroptes ovis. It causes severe itching in affected sheep if left untreated. Scaly lesions develop on the woolly parts of the body and sheep often bite themselves and rub against objects to relieve the irritation, causing loss of wool. Untreated sheep may lose weight.
How to recognise sheep scab in your flock:
[*Only when in combination with other symptoms described.]
Please consult your veterinary surgeon if you are not sure.
Part the fleece in several areas. Suspect scab if you find scales and scabs.
Mites can be seen as moving white specks just visible to the naked eye around the edges of the scabby or red area.
No person shall move any sheep visibly affected with sheep scab, nor any sheep from a flock containing one or more sheep visibly affected with sheep scab, on to or off any premises except:
Any movement of affected sheep must be carried out in such a way that other sheep are not contaminated with sheep scab by coming into contact with them.
Treatment and protection:
Any person who is the keeper of sheep visibly affected with sheep scab must treat those sheep and all other sheep in the flock with a product approved by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
An inspector may serve a notice on any person in charge of sheep visibly affected with sheep scab, requiring isolation of the animals (or, if they are not on a holding occupied by the keeper, removal to that holding and isolation of that holding) pending the results of testing for sheep scab. This may include other sheep that have been in contact with affected sheep.
If sheep scab is confirmed, a further notice may be served by an inspector requiring the keeper to treat them within a specified period.
Once the notice to treat sheep scab has been served, the person in charge must either:
The person on whom the notice to treat sheep scab has been served must, within two weeks of the date on which they complied with the notice, send to the inspector who served the notice:
If a notice to treat sheep affected with sheep scab is not complied with, the local authority may arrange for the sheep to be treated at the expense of the person on whom the notice was served.
(In England and Wales 'common land' means any common or unenclosed land.)
If a local authority is satisfied that any sheep that is on common land (or any part of common land) is affected with sheep scab, a notice of clearance may be published in writing and publicised in such a way as the local authority thinks fit in order to draw it to the attention of persons affected by it.
The notice of clearance may require:
Any person wanting to move sheep on to land specified in the notice must have:
Once the conditions have been met, sheep may be moved on to the land after the date specified in the notice, as follows:
Any sheep found on land specified in a clearance notice that have not been authorised by the local authority may be seized and detained.
If the owner establishes their right of ownership within seven days of the seizure, and pays to the local authority the expenses incurred in seizing and detaining them, the owner may take possession of the sheep.
If the owner of the sheep does not establish their right of ownership, nor pays the local authority the expenses for the seizure and detention of any sheep, the local authority may either:
The costs incurred will be deducted from the proceeds of sale and the surplus retained for payment to any person who can establish that the sheep belongs to them.
Failure to comply with the Order is an offence. The maximum penalty is a fine and two years' imprisonment.
Further information on sheep scab (opens in a new window) can be found on the GOV.UK website.
Last reviewed / updated: July 2017
This information is intended for guidance; only the courts can give an authoritative interpretation of the law.
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