Skip to main content


Title: A Strategic Review Of Sheep Dipping
Author: A Armstrong
Author: K Philpis
Author: Environment Agency
Document Type: Monograph
Annotation: Environment Agency Project ID:EAPRJOUT_436, Representation ID: 128, Object ID: 1775
Control of ectoparasites is necessary for the continuing health of the UK sheep flock. Sheep Scab is a particular problem traditionally controlled by dipping sheep in a bath containing a diluted solution of a powerful insecticide. Recent surveys have shown that pollution of surface waters by sheep dip is widespread, and that action needs to be taken to reduce this pollution. This review examines the background and options to reduce the environmental impact of sheep dipping. Its main conclusions include: - Traditional methods of controlling ectoparasites have involved dipping sheep in organophosphate (OP) or more recently synthetic pyrethroid (SP) chemicals. Alternative pour-ons and injectables have recently become available, although some of these are less effective for the treatment of some diseases, notably scab. The usual means of disposal of spent sheep dip is by spreading on the land, where it is sorbed to organic material and subject to microbial and chemical breakdown. Where it by-passes this organic material, or is applied at excessive rates, it moves to surface or ground waters, and presents a direct environmental hazard. Poor dip installation design and siting has been identified as a major problem that needs to be addressed. - Other poor practices result from a lack of care, and a lack of awareness of pollution risks. There is a need for the development of a code of good practice for ectoparasite control in sheep that embraces the whole of the dipping operation, from the management of the flock, the dip installation, the management of the dipping operation, and the disposal of the spent dip. This code could be the focus of a programme of farmer education. The role of the mobile dipping contractor has been identified as being particularly crucial in this respect. - Positive flock management techniques present the possibility of managing sheep flocks without the use of dips. - On-farm treatment of sheep dip offers the prospect of some detoxification before disposal. Addition of high alkali solutions may lead to chemical decomposition of SPs and some OPs. However, the resultant product may have some residual toxicity, and so present a risk to the environment, and therefore still needs careful disposal to land. - The textile industry can also represent a localised source of sheep dip chemicals. A three stage solution to reduce pollution from this source has been suggested: reducing the amount of pesticide in wool; developing a market for pesticide free wool; and the adoption of better effluent treatment.
Publisher: Environment Agency
Subject Keywords: GroundwaterWater pollutionPesticidesAgricultural pollutionIndustrial wastes
Extent: 71
Total file downloads: 17

Download PDF    Display PDF in separate tab