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Advice on the use of sheep dips

Sheep dip products are important in the management of sheep scab and other diseases. However, if used or disposed of incorrectly substances have the potential to cause harm to both the operator and the environment. It is important, therefore, that these products are handled in a safe and responsible manner and there are several resources that give advice to farmers and others who handle sheep dips.


The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) booklet AS29 provides advice to farmers and others involved in sheep dipping of ways to protect their health and the environment. It gives advice on how to plan and carry out the work, including how to assess the risks and decide what precautions are necessary, as well as giving advice on the disposal of used dips and their containers.

Groundwater Protection Code:

Defra has produced a Groundwater Protection Code (GPC), which was revised in July 2006 and which includes advice about the siting of sheep dips, the care that needs to be shown in ensuring that no sheep dip products find their way into watercourses and how to dispose of spent sheep dip safely. To accompany the GPC, Defra published a checklist and poster.

STOP every DROP:

The STOP every DROP leaflet published and distributed by the National Farmers Union provides good basic advice on what steps should be taken to reduce the risk of pollution from dips. In addition the Scottish Sheep Scab Initiative, which was taken forward under the Scottish Governments chairmanship, also provides advice for farmers.

Showers, Sprays and Jetters:

The Veterinary Products Committee (VPC) issued advice on the use of sheep dips through showers and jetters in 2001 following the VMDs concerns on the safety and efficacy issues arising from off-label use of OP & SP dips through mechanical showers, sprays and jetters. The advice was to discourage the use of OP and SP sheep dips through showers and similar equipment pending production of appropriate evidence on the efficacy and safety of the products when used in this way. In 2008 the Medical And Scientific Panel (MSP) reported back to the VPC after reviewing the earlier advice and concluded that it was content with the current advice.

Use of Cypermethrin Dips:

Manufacturers have voluntarily withdrawn their Marketing Authorisations for the three cypermethrin sheep dip products. Further information can be located on the Cypermethrin sheep dips no longer available page.

Certificate of Competence for the supply and use of sheep dips:

The Veterinary Medicines Regulations (VMR) requires that in order to purchase sheep dip, a person must hold a Certificate of Competence in the Use of Sheep Dips. The dipping must also be carried out by, or under supervision and in presence of a person who holds a Certificate of Competence in the Safe Use of Sheep Dips or a NPTC Level 2 Award in the Safe Use of Sheep Dip.

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland the Certificate of Competence is awarded by the City & Guilds NPTC and in Scotland by the Scottish Skills Testing Service. You can contact these organisations through their websites.

Suspected Adverse Events:

Further information can be found on the Suspected Adverse Events pages.

Last Updated: 21 January 2011

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