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January 15, 2003

 

 USDA issues new scrapie guidelines

Posted Jan. 1, 2003
 

New federal guidelines issued as part of a national scrapie eradication initiative are expected to simplify record keeping for sheep and goat dealers and markets.

The Department of Agriculture now requires only the standard business practices of recording buyer, seller, the number of animals, date, species, and breed or class of animal. Dealers and market operators are no longer expected to record individual identification information unless individual IDs are inserted or replaced by a dealer or market.

The guidelines will not affect existing ID and record-keeping requirements for most producers. The exceptions are for owners of low-risk commercial sheep and owners of goats that have been commingled with low-risk commercial sheep. These producers may now identify their sheep and goats with an official premises ear tag rather than a registered brand or ear notch.

Scrapie is a fatal, degenerative disease affecting the central nervous system of sheep and goats. It is among a number of diseases classified as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies.

The record-keeping change is important to all segments of the sheep and goat industries, according to Dr. Cindy Wolf, sheep health committee chairperson for the National Institute for Animal Agriculture and a small ruminant specialist with the University of Minnesota. "It allows market channels to operate normally and still be in compliance with the scrapie eradication program," she explained.

More information on these and other topics relating to the scrapie eradication program is available at www.animalagriculture.org, or call toll-free (866) 873-2824.