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This section focuses on sheep dip but pour-ons and injectables can also be effective treatments to control sheep ecto-parasites. Prior to treating, farmers should discuss appropriate methods of treatment for their livestock with their vet, as there may be other suitable options

Chemicals used in sheep dip and pour-on treatments are toxic to the water environment.  Sheep dip is defined as:

For the treatment of parasites: liquids, containing chemicals which are authorised and marketed as veterinary medicines for the treatment of sheep ectoparasites, into which sheep are immersed and/or in which sheep are showered.

For cosmetic reasons: liquids, containing phenols, phenolic compounds and hydrocarbons which are authorised and marketed as cosmetic products for sheep, into which sheep are immersed and/or in which sheep are showered.[1]

Sheep dipping can play an important role in the maintenance of good animal welfare. The chemicals used in dips are highly toxic and, if used properly, are very effective against parasites that colonise sheep skins and fleeces. However, if good practice is not followed, this can have devastating consequences for the water environment. Ground and surface water can also be put at risk if dipping-related activities are not managed properly. The Water Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland) Regulations 2011 have been amended to ensure that certain substances either do not enter, or do not cause pollution of, the water environment.  Refer to GBRs 24.

The improper use and disposal of dip poses significant risk of contaminating drinking water supplies taken from groundwater (e.g. springs, wells or boreholes). Groundwater and surface water are interlinked, therefore, pollution of one can seriously affect the quality of the other.

Those dipping sheep must hold or be under supervision of a holder of a 'Certificate of Competence in the Safe Use of Sheep Dip'. Dip must be purchased by a certificate holder.

Figure 1 -  Example of sheep dipping and handling facilities from Know the Rules Factsheet 13 

If a spillage or incident occurs SEPA should be contacted immediately via SEPA's 24-hour Emergency Hotline number 0800 80 70 60.