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Sheep dipping guidelines are essential for virus control; CODE OF PRACTICE: Correct procedures will safeguard the environment.


ENVIRONMENT Wales is urging farmers and contractors to follow key sheep dipping guidance as the main sheep dipping period arrives.

Bob Merriman, the agency's rural land use officer for Wales said, "We understand many farmers and contractors remain focused on issues relating to the foot-and-mouth crisis. However, with many now needing to dip their sheep, we would like them to be aware of the messages outlined in the guidance.

"By following this guidance, farmers and contractors can reduce both the environment impact and the risk of spreading footand-mouth disease from dipping sheep."

A new Code of Practice for the Use and Disposal of Sheep Dip Compounds was published by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in August.

The code sets out good practical advice on how to protect the environment when dipping or showering sheep. Key guidance on other aspects of dipping, including the disposal of sheep dip to avoid foot-and-mouth contamination from used dip, is listed in the code and should also be observed. A checklist of the key points was mailed to all registered sheep farmers in England and Wales.

Key messages for farmers and contractors are:

Before dipping Obtain an authorisation from the Environment Agency if you will need to dispose of used dip to land;

Make sure you read and understand the relevant guidance listed in the new code;

Make sure the dip bath doesn't have a drain hole - if it does, permanently seal it;

Check the bath doesn't leak - test by filling with water and leaving overnight.

During and immediately after dipping Keep the concentrate within an area that drains back into the dip bath;

Ensure all spillage during dipping operations are contained;

Ensure proper drain pens are in place and all drainage runs back into the dip bath;

Keep sheep in these drain pens until they have stopped dripping;

Keep sheep out of all streams until their fleece is completely dry.

Disposal of used dip Defra announced in June special precautions to deal with the disposal of sheep dip because of the possibility that, following the dipping of sheep, the dip solution may contain the foot- and-mouth virus. This advice is still relevant and must be followed to ensure that the foot-and-mouth virus is destroyed before disposal takes place.

Raising the pH of the used dip to pH11 or more (for 30-60 minutes) will be sufficient to destroy the virus.

Even after the used dip is treated to kill the foot-and-mouth virus, it is still very polluting and must be disposed of with great care by following the conditions in the authorisations issued by the Environment Agency, which typically include:

Spreading used sheep dip on to land at low application rates - not more than five cubic metres per hectare if it is not diluted, (for a typical dip, an area the size of half a rugby field may be sufficient) or 20 cubic metres per hectare if diluted three-fold - using slurry or water for disposal via a slurry vacuum tanker;

Not spreading on land which is steeply sloping, poorly drained, has cracked soil or is water logged;

Not spreading on land which is important to wildlife, such as wildflower meadows;

Not spreading within 10 metres of any water course or 50m of any well, borehole or spring.

Restrictions on the movement of animals, transportation of used dip for disposal, together with extra cleansing and disinfection requirements to help prevent the spread of foot-and-mouth also need to be addressed. For example, all mobile equipment used in treating sheep must be cleansed and disinfected before leaving farms.

Bob Merriman continued, "The agency has agreed that the disposal areas identified in existing groundwater regulation authorisations can be used to take these washings without having to gain any further permission. There will also be farmers who have previously relied upon contractors to treat their sheep and dispose of the used dip, who may now need to dispose of the used dip on their own land and so will need an authorisation to dispose of the used dip very quickly. Because of the urgency of the situation, it has been agreed that the Environment Agency will not charge for applications made in these circumstances and will give priority to their determination."

He added, "We are also writing to sheep dip contractors known to us, to help ensure they are fully aware of the situation. By following the new code, the foot-andmouth guidance and working together, we can minimise the risk of polluting our environment and, at the same time, help limit the spread of disease"

Mobile unit precautions

WHETHER dipping, showering or spraying sheep, mobile units used on farmyards can carry a high risk of pollution, unless the sheep dip solution is properly contained and cannot enter surface water drains or similar outlets.

Units can be located in fields, providing the sites are first checked to ensure they are level, have well established grass cover, and are at least 10 metres from any watercourse or 50 metres from any well, borehole or spring.

Further guidance is included in the Code of Practice.


SAFETY FIRST: Caution and care are paramount as the main sheep dipping season arrives
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Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Oct 23, 2001
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