Farmers have been reminded that free laboratory testing for sheep scab is available from SAC Consulting Veterinary Services.
Sheep scab is a notifiable disease which impacts on the welfare and productivity of sheep during winter.
It is caused by Psoroptes ovis mites and confirmation of infection requires microscopic examination of skin samples.
If left untreated, the disease can cause intense irritation, lead to reduced quality of sheepskins and wool, and also affect the growth rate of lambs.
Data from SRUC, which runs SAC Consulting Veterinary Services, reveals that the peak time for identifying sheep scab is January and February.
The rural college says early diagnosis is particularly relevant in the run-up to lambing, as it is easier to treat the flock prior to the birth of any lambs.
It expressed concern that resistance to moxidectin in the mite which causes sheep scab had been confirmed.
George Caldow, who heads up SAC Consulting Veterinary Solutions, said: “I would encourage farmers to work with their vets to promptly investigate the cause of itchy sheep, and to take advantage of the free testing available.”