By Debbie James

One of the most contagious sheep diseases in Wales is to be tackled on-farm with a £5 million funding programme.

Sheep scab has been identified as a disease priority by the Wales Animal Health and Welfare Framework Group therefore funding to deal with the problem is being made available by the Welsh Government through the Rural Development Programme.

The aim is to deliver an industry-led project to tackle the disease in Wales.

Sheep scab is caused by the mite Psoroptes ovis and represents a significant risk to the health, welfare and productivity of sheep flocks. It is more commonly seen in winter. 

It costs the UK sheep industry an estimated £8m a year, with 9 per cent of sheep farmers experiencing at least one case a year.

Welsh rural affairs secretary Lesley Griffiths said eradicating sheep scab was a priority for her government and the industry.

The funding announcement follows a proposal to eradicate the disease in Wales, which was submitted to the Cardiff government in September by the Welsh Sheep Scab Industry Group, a cross-party group of stakeholders.

NFU Cymru wants the group to devise a strategy that includes simple measures that every farmer can easily implement on their farm.

NFU Cymru livestock board chairman Wyn Evans, said dealing with sheep scab was a key priority for the union.

“Sheep scab costs the sheep industry, which comprises of 14,000 holdings in Wales, millions of pounds a year and has health and welfare issues for sheep,’’ he said.

The National Sheep Association (NSA) Cymru also welcomed the government funding.

“We are delighted to see Welsh Government supporting industry to eradicate this highly contagious disease,’’ said a spokesperson.

The government will announce further details of the project in the coming months following discussions with industry representatives.