Iceberg disease screening in sheep

Preparing for Sustainable Farming – making the most of testing for sheep iceberg disease

As part of Scottish Governments ‘Preparing for Sustainable Farming’ initiative, farmers can claim £250 per intervention for undertaking up to two animal health interventions per year in 2023 and 2024. One of these interventions is to investigate iceberg disease status in a flock. The standard payment is £250 per intervention, regardless of the size of the flock or the number of tests done. You do not have to provide details of their expenditure in order to claim. With the first claim, an additional £250 will be received to fund further on-farm development activities appropriate to the flock.

Fulfilling the requirements of this intervention requires appropriate screening AND a prevention or control plan being put in place as appropriate using veterinary advice based on the results received. Testing can be done by vet practices or a laboratory like SRUC Vet Services. There are no on-farm inspections associated with the interventions. Your clients can be reassured that doing one or more interventions will not trigger an on-farm audit or inspection.

The diseases included in this module of the initiative are Maedi Visna, Johne’s disease, Border Disease, Caseous Lymphadenitis and Ovine Pulmonary Adenocarcinoma. An investigation of any individual disease or combination of diseases, plus appropriate action plan/s, would be eligible for funding. With the exception of Border disease, the iceberg diseases cause ill thrift, therefore screening thin cull ewes which have no reason for poor body condition (such as tooth loss or ill thrift) on clinical examination can be used to target diagnostic testing. At this time of year these ewes can be selected as those who have failed to regain weight a few weeks after weaning.

A post mortem cull ewe screen has the advantage of being able to screen for all of these diseases as well as identifying other relevant pathology. Up to four ewes can be submitted to SRUC and examined for a total price of £108.30, this includes any relevant diagnostic testing. Carcass disposal fees are applicable in addition to this.

Serological testing options and prices are outlined in the table below. Funding can also be used towards lung scanning for OPA.

Iceberg disease funding can also be used for monitoring of Johne’s disease or Maedi Visna as part of SRUC’s Premium Sheep and Goat Health Scheme monitoring scheme, as long as advice is provided based on the results. More information about the scheme can be found here.

Funding can also be used to investigate sheep scab, worms, fluke or lameness should a multitargeted approach be warranted. Full details can be found at Preparing for Sustainable Farming full guidance (

Please get in touch if you would like to discuss testing or submission of cull ewes.

Posted by SRUC Veterinary Services on 07/09/2023

Tags: Endemic Disease
Categories: Sheep