Question about gov't scrapie program

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by Snomama, Jul 26, 2005.

  1. Snomama

    Snomama Well-Known Member

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    We recently joined the gov't scrapie program.

    In trying to find a registered ram to breed our Icelandic ewe I was told that if you were in the gov't program you weren't "allowed" to breed someone elses ewe? As in allowing us to bring our ewe to their farm for breeding, even though she is also in the gov't program and I could have her vet-checked for the breeder. I don't remember reading this anywhere on our info? I don't mind someone having a closed flock, I really do understand. I just need to know about this b/c we don't own a ram for our Jacob's either, a friend has let us "borrow" any pick of about 10 rams he has the past two years and this works our nicely for us (don't have to try and keep them sep. the rest of the year!)

    So, does anyone know????? :shrug:

    THANKS!

    Melissa
     
  2. bergere

    bergere Just living Life

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    Here is a web site for the Federal Scrapie program. Should have the info you are looking for.
    http://www.aphis.usda.gov/vs/nahps/scrapie/

    Do you have imported Blood lines? If your Icelandic is or is from Imported Stock, then yes, you must be in the program.
     

  3. MorrisonCorner

    MorrisonCorner Mansfield, VT for 200 yrs

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    Um.. that's a pretty short answer to a pretty complicated question, so let me elaborate a bit, because the government answers usually aren't written in a very straightforward style!

    If you are in the Scrapie program your Scrapie status is determined by when the animals on your farm entered the program. Once your animals/farm have been in the program long enough you achieve a level more or less universally referred to as "Scrapie Free" which is something of a misnomer, but obviously a desireable status.

    Now, let's look at your farm specifically, and let's imagine you approached me and asked to borrow one of my rams. I'm in the scrapie program in my own right, but I also acquired all my original stock from one farm... and that farm will achieve the status "Scrapie Free" in another month. Whereupon the status of my farm will rise (since all my stock comes from them and is closed) to the status of their flock.

    However, if, before that time, the other farm were to take one of my animals (or yours), their status would revert back to my (your) status.

    This throws a whole level of complexity into the thing, because as a participant in the Scrapie program, I am not about to "lend" you a ram... that ram would then come back to me and throw my status into question. What I am willing to do is to sell you a ram which you can use for breeding and then slaughter in December. This is what we did for the first couple of years and it has worked out very well. A ram lamb, even a breeding one, doesn't have that 'strong' a flavor... although the meat pretty much must be braised.

    However, you've got the Jacobs too... if you bring a non-participant in to do those ewes, you'll probably jeaprodize your Scrapie status. I can't imagine a small farm being able to keep the animals sufficiently far apart for the government to allow part of the flock to be certified, and part not.

    You are required to be part of the Scrapie program if you are buying (or breeding) first generation AI sheep. You can get great breeding stock that is second or third generation farm bred from AI stock, but if you want first generation or you want animals that have several AI lines in them (making an animal more than 50% AI) you need to be in the Scrapie program. As far as I know, that is the only restriction on breeding or transferring animals at this time... but in the Icelandic world, where so many of the larger and more progressive farms are using AI to improve the breed, it is a big issue. The best stock is AI first generation and while you might not get a "deal" on an AI lamb, as these animals mature and farms look to move them off their property to keep their lines fresh, they'll become available to the smaller farms (like mine). While not at "bargain basement" prices, still, when you consider what is involved in AIing yourself, and the fact that you're getting a proven animal, can look at the breeding record and get an idea of what they're carring for color, pattern and spotting... these mature animals are a real deal.

    I personally like to "know" what my animals will throw, within reason... for example, I'd prefer to know the ram I'm buying isn't homozygeous for white, and can only throw white lambs in the first generation. I prefer white and another pattern, carrying both black and moorit, and preferably without the spotting gene (I mill my fleeces and spotting makes me crazy).

    Well.. that was clear as mud too!
     
  4. Snomama

    Snomama Well-Known Member

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    Oh boy, clear as mud is right :stars:

    So, I would be compromising the farms scrapie status? Even though we also are part of the program????? I guess in my simple mind I was thinking....my sheep are scrapie free and so are theirs, part of the same program, no big deal.

    OKAY, so I need to buy a ram, breed him and then butcher him? No, we do not have enough land to keep them separate and only 6 mature Jacob ewes and the one Icelandic ewe so we do not have enough ewes to even think of breeding back to.

    NEXT fall though we will have about 13 Jacob ewes to breed and hopefully three Icelandics! Fun watching our farm grow ;)

    Thanks for the help. I guess I will probably be buying the ram we were offered. He was born in February I believe, he is supposed to be mature enough for breeding by October the breeder said.

    God bless
     
  5. bergere

    bergere Just living Life

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    Sorry, normally I try to keep my answers simple as possible. Awhile ago, I used to do longgg answers,, would just make folks go cross eyed. ;)

    Yes, if you breed outside ewe(s) you would be compromising your Scrapie status.
    To get the Scrapie "Free" status, think it is 7 years?? (last time I checked anyway) You must have a closed flock. Bringing anything in puts you back to square one.

    Your right,, nothing the government does is clear. Like it is beyond them to make it easy to read and simple. Sigh ~ ~
     
  6. kesoaps

    kesoaps Well-Known Member

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    To make the waters even muddier...I do believe it depends on which scrapie program you belong to, as well. (Please correct me if I'm wrong!) I got tags and such, but Morrison pointed out awhile back that there's a more stringent program, which includes vet checks done at your farm (am I right?) My tags are free, but the others you pay for. I sorta wish they'd explained there were variations within the program when I called.

    Yep, that's the way it works!
     
  7. MorrisonCorner

    MorrisonCorner Mansfield, VT for 200 yrs

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    Right.. you've got #1 right... just because you and another farm are in the Scrapie program it doesn't mean you can swap sheep without jeprodizing one farm's status. The most recent entry into the Scrapie program becomes the default date for both farms. Now... some people may not care about this. But anyone who is going for commercial value will, and anyone who is playing around buying AI'd Icelandics or papered stock probably cares at least a little about their Scrapie status.

    Having said this.. I do think the person who inspected your flock should have explained this to you. I rather think it is part of their job to make sure you understand the program. But that's just me being crabby at government officials!

    We started out with 2 ewes and one ram lamb. The ram lamb did his thing, and then into the freezer he went... since we only had one pen to play with, this worked through the first couple of years. Then things started getting complicated because we now have polled and horned and I'm breeding for specific colors and fleeces. But the basic premise remains the same... for certain ewes I will hold back a ram lamb who shows good promise, breed him, then slaughter him in December so I don't have to carry him over the winter.

    It is my opinion that there are very few rams that are so perfect that slaughtering them for the freezer is a crime. If he's that great, I'll see it in the offspring, which, if I've done my breeding correctly, should be an improvement on their sire anyway. But I just don't have the space or resources to keep rams around, or rather, didn't when we were just starting out. And, (this is an important consideration for us) some ram fleeces are wonderful, but rams don't grow fleece back the way ewes do. So I often don't get a useable fleece from a ram after the lamb fleece (which I do take). So I've got a ram hanging around for a year waiting for the following season... he has to be one heck of a ram for me to have him hanging around if I can't even get a fleece out of him!

    An Icelandic lamb born in April is mature enough to breed at the end of November, so that sounds about right. You want, however, to confine the ewes (and ram) in a relatively small space. The first year we did this the ewes had quite a large pasture to work with and to say they were "uncooperative" would be an understatement. The poor ram was dragging around on his knees from the effort of chasing these two ewes! Ram lambs are inexperienced, unproven, and need the help of a little confining space so they can figure it all out!
     
  8. james dilley

    james dilley Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Have you checked inti A I for the Ewe????
     
  9. SilverVista

    SilverVista Well-Known Member

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    :confused: So once you're in the voluntary program, if you need new blood, you are limited to sheep with dates equal to or better than yours? Interesting -- it forces you to buy from the most progressive rule-follower rather than from the breeder whose sheep display the phenotype your flock may need. And a smaller flock that is kept closed for any length of time.....well, let's just hope it isn't ME choosing who to inbreed to who, I'm terrible at that! Obviously, it would behoove anyone interested in the program to be preachin' the Scrapie Eradication Gospel to their fellow breeders in order to have some range of choice 7 years down the road!
     
  10. MorrisonCorner

    MorrisonCorner Mansfield, VT for 200 yrs

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    Well, while I understand what you're saying on a hypothetical level Silver, as a practical matter I don't know of an Icelandic breeder who would have a phenotype I'd want who isn't in the scrapie program and hasn't been in it for some period of time.

    Where it becomes an issue is if I want to sell from my flock to theirs.... and much as I love my sheep and think they're fine animals, well, where do you think they came from? Yep, those more established bloodlines. I've got nothing on my farm that one of the more established farms doesn't already have.

    Now, if I decided to make the investment in AI, then I might have a "problem," assuming I suddenly found myself with such amazing stock the more established farms wanted a piece of my action. But realistically, since Icelandics only reproduce once a year, it takes some time to be able to produce the kind of stock you'd want to invest AI in. And.. by then... yep, I'd be Scrapie Certified, and could sell to the more established farms.

    But there is that loophole. IF your stock all comes from Scrapie Certified farms, and if there is an unbroken chain of custody (from them to you) I believe your farm takes on that farm's higher status.

    But all of this is neither here nor there IF:

    You're not interested in first generation AI or doing an AI breeding yourself.

    You don't intend to sell breeding stock to a scrapie program flock.

    You don't intend to market you animals as participants in the scrapie program.

    You don't intend to market your meat as being part of the scrapie program (which is tricky anyway and a little deceptive since you can't really say 'scrapie free' but more like "no known cases of.." which sounds decidely less delectible!).

    If all you're doing is keeping a few animals for fleece and meat with no intention of doing anything more with them.. who cares? Skip the program and skip the paperwork.
     
  11. SilverVista

    SilverVista Well-Known Member

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    You're right about the Icelandics, MorrisonCorner, in fact, if you look up the names of all enrolled flocks, there is a predominance of Icelandic, Shetland and other primative breeds. But for those of us more backward people with, say, Oxfords, there are plenty of blood-tested flocks but not many if any at all enrolled in the voluntary program. So enrolling would have a serious effect on the range of choices. Hypothetical to the original poster, yes, but very educational and lots to think about for me! Thanks for a good discussion.
     
  12. Shahbazin

    Shahbazin Well-Known Member

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    I guess one of the questions is, are you in the mandatory program, or the voluntary program? The voluntary program is stricter (& the one for the F1's), & what happens if you bring another animal in is, if they're in the program less years than you, your sheep farm's status is "reset" to their years; ie, you've been in 5 years, they've been in 1 year, you get a sheep from them, you're at the 1 year level again. If you're in the mandatory program, it's just tracking, you tag them & keep a record of who they're sold to.
     
  13. MorrisonCorner

    MorrisonCorner Mansfield, VT for 200 yrs

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    Interesting Silver... when researching breeds it didn't occur to me that the scrapie thing would be an issue if we went with another breed. It was so ubiquitous in the Icelandic/Shetland world I just assumed "everyone" was tracking.

    But then, of course, as far as I know (I could be wrong... but as far as I know) there hasn't been an incident of scrapie in the US Icelandic world. Which makes it "easy" for us to tag and track... we don't really have anything to worry about. On the other hand, if there were scrapie in my breed, I think I'd want to be in the program even more. After all, I'm the one eating these things!

    The "selling the idea of the scrapie program" among breeders was done long before I came along, probably some 7-10 years ago, but the cooperation among serious breeders must have come very quickly and cooincided with the rise in AI. And I think you'll see pretty much every farm on board (icelandic farm) very shortly as we introduce vaginal AI over the next couple of years. Much easier to do, much less invasive, and apparently, much more reliable. It makes AI available to even the smallest farm... a big plus if you don't want to keep a ram.

    I personally find the tracking and tagging a convenient way to keep my sheep straight. My scrapie tags are color coded by line, so a glance out in the field (or at a lamb racing by during the worming circus) will tell me who belongs to whom... I've got two solid moorit ewe lambs, both with spotting.. and their markings are so identical that if it weren't for the color coded tags in the ears you'd swear they were the same lamb. The numbers on my tags are nice and big, but having them color coded was a bit of mild genius on my part.