Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Sheep dip rules

Sheep dip rules

You will need a permit or authorisation from your environmental regulator to dispose of sheep dip to land. You must comply with the conditions of your permit or authorisation in order to meet the cross compliance rules of the single farm payment scheme.

Cross compliance and agri-environment schemes

What you must do

Only use sheep dip chemicals that have been licensed as sheep dip by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate. You must follow all of the instructions on the label.

You must never allow sheep dip to get into watercourses, drains, sewers or soakaways. If you do, you may be committing a pollution offence.

In Scotland you must not allow your sheep access to the water environment whilst there is a chance that sheep dip fluid could be transferred from their fleece.

If you operate a mobile sheep dipping facility or your fixed sheep dipping facility was constructed after 1st April 2008, or a sheep handling facility for the use of pour on treatments constructed after 1 January 2018,  then it must not be within 50 metres of any river, ditch, pond, freshwater loch, coastal water, wetland, well, spring or borehole.

Your sheep dipping facilities must not:

  • discharge underground
  • leak
  • overspill.

You must not fill your sheep dipping facilities with water taken from the local water environment unless:

  • a device preventing back siphoning is fitted to the system
  • the water is first placed in an intermediate container.

You must empty your sheep dip facilities within 24 hours following completion of dipping.

SRUC: Operating sheep dipping facilities (Adobe PDF - 224KB)

You need a permit or authorisation from your environmental regulator before you dispose of sheep dip onto land. This applies even if you only dispose of small quantities of sheep dip, eg after using a sheep shower or jetter.

Preventing water pollution

Contact your environmental regulator

You must comply with the duty of care when you deal with agricultural waste such as sheep dip and dip containers.

If your containers and packaging can be rinsed you should follow the product label instructions, and rinse the container, the lid and foil seal. Place the rinsed foil seal inside the container. You can dispose of containers that have been triple rinsed and drained as normal waste.

If your containers cannot be rinsed, you must handle them as if they contain sheep dip. You should dispose of them as hazardous/special waste.

Duty of care - your waste responsibilities

Hazardous / special waste

Good practice

Only buy enough sheep dip concentrate to meet your immediate needs.

Always store unused sheep dip concentrate on plastic trays in a secure location, especially during dipping when it could get trampled.

Site sheep dipping facilities at least 50m from a watercourse and from a well, spring or borehole.

You should inspect, test and repair all sheep dip baths before you use them. Your baths should have no leaks or drain holes.

In Northern Ireland the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development's (DARD) Countryside Management Unit provides guidance on sheep dipping and cross compliance, which covers safe disposal of dip.

DAERA: Sheep dipping and cross compliance

In Scotland follow the good practice advice in SEPA's sheep dipping code.

SEPA: Sheep Dipping Code of Practice for Scottish Farmers, Crofters and Contractors (Adobe PDF 264KB)

Mix the sheep dip in the bath. Rinse the concentrate containers three times and empty the rinse water into the bath. Crush or place holes in the containers so they cannot be reused.

Do not overfill the bath. Leave room for the sheep to be dipped without the bath overflowing.

Provide draining-off pens with an impermeable base that drains back to the bath. Keep sheep in these pens for at least 10 minutes. In Scotland, you should hold the sheep in a field with no access to the water environment for a period of 24 hours or until their fleece is dry. This reduces the risk of polluting surface water.

Do not allow sheep into an area where they could come into contact with a watercourse, eg a stream or field drain, for at least two weeks after dipping. Sheep dip could wash out of the fleece during this period and cause major pollution. Provide an alternative source of drinking water for your sheep at this time.

If you use a mobile dip, only use farmyards if they have sealed drainage and collection systems. If you use field sites for mobile dipping make sure you:

  • choose a flat, established grassland or rough grazing site that has at least a spade's depth of topsoil, and preferably another 0.5m soil depth, above rock or thick clay
  • do not dip sheep when the site is flooded, waterlogged, frozen or compacted, or when the groundwater level is less than 1m below the surface.

Dispose of waste sheep dip as soon as possible after dipping. You can dispose of waste sheep dip by diluting it with three times the volume of water and then spreading it on land.

However you will need a permit or authorisation from your environmental regulator.

If you have to store sheep dip because conditions are unsuitable for spreading, you should use impermeable containers in a bunded area.

Further information

The following codes of good practice provide more guidance on sheep dip.

In Northern Ireland, see section 7 of the DARD code of good agricultural practice for water, air and soil.

DAERA: Code of good agricultural practice for the prevention of pollution of water, air and soil

Northern Ireland: Sheep dipper condition

In Scotland, see section 8 of the Prevention of Environmental Pollution from Agricultural Activity (PEPFAA) Code.

SEPA: Sheep Dipping Code of Practice for Scottish Farmers, Crofters and Contractors (Adobe PDF 264KB)

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