OVER 100 farmers gathered at Connachan last week for the Moredun, NSA and MSD Animal Health national hill sheep event, where experts described the disease OPA, or Jaagsiekte, as one of the biggest threats facing sheep farming.

A new Moredun film on OPA control was launched, produced by Simon Cousins and filmed at Connachan, where thoracic ultrasound scanning over a three year period has reduced the number of positive scans year on year. The film stressed that the key to beating this disease was first acknowledging that it is a problem and then doing something about it.

Following this, open discussions took place on tackling OPA in sheep flocks, and questions arose relating to how the scanning could be best used. This could be in the form of individual sheep scanning of bought-in or for sale animals, or whole flock scanning for test and cull, which may be the best option for long term disease reduction. The idea of an industry-monitored flock scheme to denote lower risk animals was an idea that was discussed and thought to be potentially useful to the industry.

Away from OPA, the event also included a demonstration of Moredun’s pen-side sheep scab diagnostic, which is on its way to commercialisation, and discussion concluded that such a useful tool could be a 'game changer' for sheep scab control.

Moredun director of communications, Lee Innes, added: “We were delighted at the support from the hill sheep sector for this event, where there was a real buzz of determination and optimism. Moredun will continue to support the sheep sector by helping increase livestock efficiency and reduce disease, through knowledge exchange events and outputs, such as the new OPA film.”

That film will now be made freely available for the industry to use to promote 'open and honest' discussions on OPA and decide on the best strategy for disease control.