The economic modelling of sheep ectoparasite control in Scotland
In this study, data collected in a survey of Scottish sheep farmers was used to corroborate and augment secondary data available in the literature on sheep ectoparasites and their control in 1999/2000. The data was used to design and construct a decision tree model, which was used to determine probability weighted profit-maximising control strategies for six flock types/size groups that were representative of Scottish sheep farms. Organophosphate (OP) based dips, applied in both the autumn and spring/summer, were found to be the profit-maximising control strategy for five flock types/size groups. The exception was for small (100-ewe) lowground flocks, where two applications of cypermethrin in pour-on formulation maximised the avoidable disease losses. Each of these strategies can give rise to animal welfare, human health and /or environmental externalities. OP dips can damage human health and the environment but minimise animal welfare losses, and cypermethrin pour-on, while non-damaging to human health and the environment, can result in some avoidable welfare losses, as ectoparasite control is less effective than for OP dips. Using multi-criteria analysis (MCA), the economics of sheep ectoparasite control from a social standpoint has also been examined. Some profit-maximising control strategies do not necessary maximise social benefits. A conflict can arise between the farmer and society. The minimum cost that society would need to be willing to accept in order to finance possible incentives for sheep farmers to switch from the profit-maximising control strategy to strategies that provide different bundles of social benefits is estimated.