Quarantine advice for internal and external parasites

Any sheep that come onto your farm, whether bought in or simply returning from grazing away, pose a threat to the home flock. SCOPS recommendations cover the risks associated with anthelmintic resistant worms, sheep scab and liver fluke – but there are also other conditions (such as footrot, CODD, orf and so-called ‘iceberg’ diseases) that should be factored into your quarantine protocols.

With several parasite threats to consider, the actions needed to protect the home flock can look complicated. But with some forward-planning and advice from your vet or adviser you can put together an effective and practical plan for parasites, and widen it out to include other risks too.

SCOPS has developed a step-by-step guide to quarantine testing and treatments (click on the picture to download it). It is freely available to everyone but has been designed for use by vets and advisers - so producers are encouraged to please seek assistance if needed. The guide goes through the stages of sheep arriving on the farm to them being safe to join the home flock and alsoa examples using a calendar to demonstrate how to complete your own plan. There are four different examples based on the risk level for sheep scab and liver fluke – and there is also a blank pro-forma to use for creating a quarantine plan from scratch. Vets/advisers should also refer to the SCOPS Techncal Manual. Chapter 2.3.

Frequently asked quarantine questions

  • Why do I need to yard sheep on arrival? Yarding for 24-48 hours minimises the number of worm eggs in the gut of the incoming sheep being dropped on pasture and allows time for the treatment to work. It also gives you time to think about what actions to take for sheep scab and liver fluke. In addition, you can check them over for other conditions such as lameness or orf.
  • Why should I worm with more than one product? Using more than one wormer reduces the chances of any resistant worms surviving treatment. The gold standard uses the two newest products – Group 4-AD (orange) and Group 5-SI (purple) (see SCOPS Technical Manual. Chapter 4.1.1) while silver uses one or other of these two newer products with a group 3-ML (clear) wormer or injectable if you decide that you wish to cover sheep scab with the treatment (see SCOPS Technical Manual. Chapter 4.1.2). Details about gold-silver-bronze treatment options are included on the downloadable PDF below.
  • How do I give two products at the same time? If giving two drenches you need to have two drench guns and packs ready so the doses can be given sequentially. Check the dose rate for the weight of the heaviest sheep in the group and calibrate both guns. Then you can either give them one after the other to each sheep, or go down the race with one and then the other – but never mix products together.
  • Why do I need to turn these sheep out to dirty pasture? This is important because if any resistant worms do survive we don’t want them to have free rein on a clean pasture. Turning out to pasture that has carried sheep previously means any survivors will be diluted by other worms as the incoming sheep pick up the worms present on the pasture. Remember it is the resident flock we are protecting from the threats. See SCOPS Technical Manual. Chapter 2.2
  • Why should I keep them separate for three to four weeks? This is important for wider health issues as well as the parasite programme. It gives time for conditions such as CODD to become apparent as well as an opportunity to test that your worming treatments were effective and/or test for sheep scab if you decided to use the blood test. Ask your vet or adviser for advice on foot health, orf, iceberg diseases and more.