Sheep Scab

Sheep Scab Order 1997

The Sheep Scab Order came into force on 01 July 1997 and the legislation has remained basically unchanged since then. It is a criminal offence if owners or keeper(s) of sheep fail to treat sheep visibly affected with sheep scab. The legislation enables local authorities to control the movement of sheep that are affected by sheep scab and require treatment of those sheep if necessary.

Sheep on Common Grazings

If a local authority is satisfied that any sheep that is on common grazings is affected with sheep scab, a notice may be published in writing and may be publicised in such a way as the local authority thinks fit in order to draw it to the attention of person(s) affected by it.

The notice may require all persons keeping sheep on that land specified in the notice to move all those sheep off that land before the date specified in the notice and will require notification of treatment at least 48 hours before the sheep are treated for sheep scab. The owner is required to notify the local authority of the time and place that the treatment will be carried out

Any person wanting to move sheep back onto on to land specified in the notice must have treated the sheep against sheep scab with an approved sheep dip.They must also notify the local authority (in writing) have notified the local authority in writing that the sheep have been treated against sheep scab, the number of sheep which have been treated, the date or dates of treatment and  the product used, and have written authorisation from the local authority to move the sheep on to the land.

Once the conditions have been met then sheep may be moved onto the land after the date specified in the notice as follows:

  • within three days - no sheep are to be moved onto the land
  • three to 16 days only - sheep that have been treated with an approved product, that will give protection against re-infection by sheep scab mites, remaining on the land
  • 16 days to three months - sheep that have been treated with an approved product, that does not give protection from re-infection

Seizure of Unauthorised Sheep

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 his 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 his right of ownership, nor pays the local authority the expenses for the seizure and detention of these sheep, the local authority may either treat and sell the sheep or cause the sheep to be slaughtered and sell the carcase(s).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 him.

Movement of Sheep With Sheep Scab

No person shall move any sheep visibly affected with sheep scab, or any sheep from a flock containing one or more sheep visibly affected with sheep scab, on to, or off any premises except:

  • for treatment
  • for immediate slaughter

Any movement of 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 of Sheep Scab

Any person who is the keeper of sheep visibly affected with sheep scab must treat these sheep and all other sheep in the flock with an approved product.

A  notice on any person in charge of sheep visibly affected by 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 has been served, the person in charge must:

  • treat the sheep with an approved product OR
  • ensure that the sheep are slaughtered

The person on whom the notice has been served must, within two weeks of the date on which he complied with the notice, send to the inspector who served the notice a document signed by a veterinary surgeon stating the date on which the treatment took place and the treatment used, and in the case of sheep which are slaughtered, evidence of such slaughter.

If a notice to treat sheep affected with sheep scab is not complied with, the local authority may cause the sheep to be treated at the expense of the person on whom the notice was served.

How to Recognise Sheep Scab in Your Flock

Common signs are:

  • scratching against fences and posts
  • scratching with hind legs
  • clean area of fleece, due to licking or biting
  • discoloured fleece, due to rubbing and scratching
  • biting at flanks
  • standing apart from flock, dull and depressed
  • tags of fleece on the flanks
  • tags of wool in the mouth

Advanced disease

  • areas of wool loss
  • damaged moist red skin
  • dry crusty scabs with moist red borders



Treatment / Protection

Treatment and control of sheep scab can be carried out by either by dipping or use of injectables.  Pour-ons and spraying/jetting are not acceptable means of treatment.

Some dips offer only short term protection whilst some provide long lasting action. Similarly some injectables will kill mites but offer no protection against re-infection.

Use of products with a long lasting and preventative action to both kill mites and provide protection against re-infection is recommended.


For further information, please Contact Consumer and Environmental Services directly or by using the Feedback Form.