USDA Volunteer Scrapie program

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by eb, Jan 2, 2005.

  1. eb

    eb Well-Known Member

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    Anyone know if there are any serious downsides to joining this USDA Volunteer scrapie program? Besides the cost of the vet certificate and the ear tags its easy to get in, but wondering if I will regret having done so down the road?
     
  2. YuccaFlatsRanch

    YuccaFlatsRanch Well-Known Member Supporter

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    No downside that I can see. Additionally, the ability to advertise a scrapie free flock is a positive sales tool. The vet visit and the tags and the pliers to apply the tags are free.

    Since you have to have the sheep tagged to sell them at market - why not let USDA pay for the tags.
     

  3. ShortSheep

    ShortSheep Well-Known Member

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    I've been enrolled for 2 years now and haven't had any regrets. It was a bit of a pain to get enrolled, but once we were up and running, no problems. Weird, but we had to pay for our eartags and taggers, but everything else is free including the yearly vet visits. We did get a box of free ear tags for "meat only" lambs, though.
    We show and sell lambs out of state, so we pretty much had to enroll.

    Juli
     
  4. Karen Gaietto

    Karen Gaietto Active Member

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    Right now this is a voluntary program. It will be a mandatory program in the near future whether we want it to be or not. It only costs the ear tags, since it does not cost me anything for the states vets to come out. My animals basically get a well check every year. They are starting to offer free testing for the sheep to determine susceptibility to the scrapie, I will be having all the rams tested. Been in the program 3 years, and we are a closed flock.
    Karen
     
  5. Cat

    Cat Well-Known Member

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    I was able to call and get the taqs and tagger free of charge without any type of vet check on my sheep. I only use the tags for animals that are going to auction that are over 18 months (I think it's 18, I may be wrong, though.) They are also offering free testing of flock rams however I don't have one at the moment.
     
  6. MorrisonCorner

    MorrisonCorner Mansfield, VT for 200 yrs

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    We just joined the program and we did have to pay for the tagger and tags... but as someone said, if you're tagging anyway, why not tag with scrapie tags? We also didn't have a whole lot of nerve when it came to punching tags through ears and the nice state vet took pity on us and helped us tag everyone.

    The health certificate thing though was an issue. If you're buying stock from a Scrapie flock, get a health certificate from that flock's vet and submit your application ASAP so you can use that vet certificate instead of having to have a vet come out to your place. We run a very small flock and I can't amortize a $100 vet call so someone can look over my flock and say "yep.. healthy."

    I did it for 2 reasons (ok.. three) 1) increased value in the flock going forward if I ever decide to sell breeding stock, 2) if scrapie is discovered in one of my lines, I'd sure as heck like to know about it since I eat these animals and 3) I don't see every government program as Big Bad and Evil. Like someone is going to show up on my doorstep and demand my puny flock just because of some imagined emergency... I don't think so.
     
  7. Biskit

    Biskit New Member

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    What do you need to do to enroll your flock?
     
  8. SmokedCow

    SmokedCow Well-Known Member

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    In SD here, we have to enroll otherwise we cant sell meat lambs or show stock...I think they only things that dont need them is breeding bucks or ewes...I might be wrong tho...My father handles all that....I just take care of them :haha:
    AJ
     
  9. MorrisonCorner

    MorrisonCorner Mansfield, VT for 200 yrs

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    Call 1-866-USDA-TAG toll free and they'll give you chapter and verse.

    You need to keep records for 5 years: who has what number, who was bred to whom, and the numbers of the offspring. Think "spread-sheep!" ;-)

    You need to get a vet's certificate before transporting the sheep across state lines for breeding, exibition, or "commerce," which I assumes means "selling them for any use including eating." I do not believe you need a vet certificate (at least, this is how I understand it) to use your own rams and ewes for breeding.

    You are not supposed to house a Scrapie flock with a non-Scrapie flock, which makes housing at shows problematic and is why many farmers either sell their sheep at the show or take them directly to a butcher, especially if they're running a closed flock. Or you'll find farmer's going to great lengths to segregate their flock within the confines of show pens... putting up tarps and other barriers to keep other animals "away" from their own.

    And your "Scrapie date" is based both on the date your farm entered the program AND on the date of the farm you bought from. So if your farm has been in the program 5 years, and you buy stock from a farm that has been in for only 2, you get "knocked back" to a 2 year farm. This adds value to the long term participant in the Scrapie program's flock. As time goes on, I'll be increasingly reluctant to introduce animals to my flock which will jeaprodize my scrapie enrollment date.

    Is this a bunch of foolishness? I dunno.. another mad cow was located recently. If scrapie is found in my lines, I'd sure want to know about it, and if I'm not in this program the only way I would is by word of mouth. Probably long after the fact.
     
  10. kesoaps

    kesoaps Well-Known Member

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    That's certainly true. Hadn't considered that aspect, but obviously those of us with 4-H kids wouldn't have an easy time of it.

    I would think the scrapie enrollment date would be a detriment...or am I thinking backwards? If a person had a small flock, they'd need to be able to bring in outside animals to add to the genetic diversity. But getting bumped back each time sounds rather discouraging...
     
  11. MorrisonCorner

    MorrisonCorner Mansfield, VT for 200 yrs

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    It certainly is a deterent to buy from a younger flock... so the established farm I bought my stock from would not purchase stock back from me anytime soon. But then, why would they? Their lines, since I bought from them, are obviously my lines!

    But once you've been in the program a while and you've got stock you're using to establish other farms, the scrapie certification is a plus.

    That said, there certainly is a case for not bothering with the program if you're small enough and "hobby-ish" enough.

    However, in the case of Icelandics (and presumably other breeds as well) the only way to get genetic diversity and the characteristics we're looking for is to buy semen straws directly from Iceland and AI. If you AI your sheep, or want to buy an AI'd Icelandic lamb, you must be in the scrapie program.

    I knew when I got into this that I wanted genetic material from "outside" the established American flocks. There are many Icelandic farmers, but only so many lines.. and you can't bring sheep across the Canadian border any more, further depleting the options. So your only real option for keeping lines open and clear, or improving characteristics, is to AI.

    *sigh* To say nothing of the fact that AI would mean I could eat my ram lambs instead of standing around wondering if they've finally "figured it out" or not.

    Is there an ept test for sheep?
     
  12. lisarichards

    lisarichards Well-Known Member

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    I wonder about that all the time. I have an Icelandic ram (Sue) who I can only breed with two of my ewes, because my other five are his daughters. What do people do about that? Do you trade rams for a season? Does that mean I have to find another Icelandic herd here in NH?
     
  13. kesoaps

    kesoaps Well-Known Member

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    Lisa, I believe people breed fathers to daughters quite frequently. Or mothers to sons. The real problem from a genetic standpoint are sister/brother type crosses. You'll see it done pretty much across the animal kingdom with breeders, from rabbits to sheep to whatever they've got in order to establish a herd.

    I heard just a couple days ago that our big vet clinic here is beginning to do the ai thing with sheep and goats now due to the diminishing farms. Folks who've only got a few acres but still want to raise livestock are on the rise, and most haven't the room or desire to keep a ram.

    I'd personally like to find some East Freisians, but like the Icelandic, they're hard to come by, and at least here where I am the genetic diversity is low. Guess I'll need to do some homework on the subject!
     
  14. Cat

    Cat Well-Known Member

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    Don't be too certain about that. A friend of mine that raises exhibition waterfowl had her entire farm quarantined a year or so ago due to an undiagnosed illness in her birds. They assumed it to be West Nile however the state came out and quarantined the place putting signs up along the property line that there was a quarantine in place and that no birds were to enter or leave the premises until further notice. I am thinking that no one outside of the family members was allowed on the farm however I can't say that with any certainty, I just don't know. Luckily the reason they knew to quarantine was because my friend had taken the dying/dead birds to the state lab to be tested so she was doing the right thing but in the meantime she wasn't able to sell, kill, eat, a bird on the farm. If your neighbor has an unknown illness on their farm chances are highly likely that your farm too would be put under the microscope until the gov't. could guarantee that your flock/land was clean.

    There was a point in time where a certain state stopped all transporting of birds across state lines due to an Exotic Newcastle Disease threat. Another friend in this circumstance who happens to have an extremely valuable, closed line of birds nearly had to smuggle birds out so that in the event the state demanded that birds be destroyed he would have the genetics intact to continue this line. Many of the poultry/waterfowl people I have come to know recently have a practice where they send off breeding pairs of their line of birds to friend's farms so that in the event something happens and their birds are destroyed by the state, they have a start in another part of the country.
    It's pretty easy to label them as "conspiracy theorists" however these are well educated, extremely successful people who base their practices on what it takes to insure their line will continue beyond today.

    *edited to add info.*
     
  15. MorrisonCorner

    MorrisonCorner Mansfield, VT for 200 yrs

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    You know... you see this as "bad and evil" but I see this as potentially life saving. Suppose her birds had been sick with something very toxic? She would then have wanted to eat them?

    I'm assuming not.

    It seems, on the surface, draconian, when it all comes to naught, but if it hadn't come to naught, I think she'd have been pleased they hadn't been eating the flock, or selling it to friends, etc.

    Just my .02
     
  16. MorrisonCorner

    MorrisonCorner Mansfield, VT for 200 yrs

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    If you're involved in the Scrapie program you'd need to trade rams with someone who is roughly the same "age" in the program that you are... but that's an excellent idea. I hadn't thought of swapping a good ram out for another one, then taking him back for the resulting generation. I'm sort of bad and evil... I use them for a few years, butcher them, and bring in a new one.

    :-( Bad shepherd!

    But a Scrapie farm can sell to a non-Scrapie farm, so you could easily pick up another ram, especially a ram lamb, use him for the season and slaughter him in December. I HIGHLY recommend taking him to a slaughterhouse if you're not into doing this at home. Highly. Really, really highly.

    Did I mention I recommend the nice people at the slaughterhouse? Especially if you're like us and name your rams and make pets out of them. These guys have seen it all, and are actually surprisingly sympathetic.

    I don't agree with line breeding (brother/sister, son/mother) because while you can magnify the positive, you can accentuate the negative as well. And too, I have a friend who has been line breeding for some period of time (5 years) and the last year he did it he had a large lamb loss. He brought in a new ram this past season and had no lamb losses, and visibly more robust offspring. He's now totally sold on "rolling" his ramstock.
     
  17. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    When you breed so close it is inbreeding not line breeding. My brain hurts tonight but there are some mathematical formulae that will allow you to calculate an inbreeding co-efficient Wrights co-efficient of inbreedign is probably the best known but there is a better one. I'll try to post some links if anyone is interested. We just roll our ram stock for about 90% of our rams. I do keep the occasional home bred ram especially if he has an unrelated dam.
     
  18. Cat

    Cat Well-Known Member

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    You're putting words into my mouth. My point was that you shouldn't assume that just because you have a "puny" flock that you're going to be exempt from government restrictions. If the powers that be decide that your flock needs to be exterminated for reasons real or imagined your flock will be exterminated no matter how puny.

    Neither am I questioning the quarantine placed on her farm. As I said she was taking the birds to the State to be posted, not because the government requested she do so but because she uses that facility quite often when she has an unexplained death. It was only after she took the birds that the State Vet's office came to her farm to place it under quarantine.
     
  19. MorrisonCorner

    MorrisonCorner Mansfield, VT for 200 yrs

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    Sorry.. you're right. I thought you were responding to my "Bad and Evil" with an example of the government "overstepping" and being "bad and evil."

    And here in VT, where one farm waged a multi-year war against the extermination of their flock (and lost), we're well aware of the pain which can fall on a farm if the government determines something is "wrong" with the flock/herd.

    However, we do have the example of this farm in front of us, we know what they did "right" and where they went wrong... and ultimately, the risk of not knowing my flock carries scrapie trumps the possibility that the government will suddenly go off its collective rocker and go after my flock for no particularly good reason.
     
  20. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Aren't all quarentine rules and protocals extreme by design? If hoof and mouth (which is the big boogie monster of farm diseases) shows up in N America, expect door to door searches within the quarentine area, and some sort of penalty for attempting to hide livestock. Sound reasoning or not its how things are done. H+M is considered a potential bio terror threat BTW, so yeah they'll search. We get lots of people from around the world into our farm, for our kennels. Their movements are carefully restricted; however, if my sheep get hoof and mouth the govt. will quarentine and eradicate every grass chewing animal for miles around me registered or not. A single case of scrapie which is a reportable disease would just zap my flock. Nasty but seemingly essential.