Scrapie Requirements: Identifying Sheep and Goats
Wed, 28 Nov 2001 17:12:56 -0600
carla everett firstname.lastname@example.org
The following is the text from a new brochure available from
the Texas Animal Health Commission. To order copies, please e-mail
with your address and quantity needed, or call 1-800-550-8242, ext 710.
State and Federal Scrapie Requirements:
Identifying Sheep and Goats
Information from the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) and the USDA's
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Veterinary Services in Texas.
Box 12966, 2105 Kramer Lane
Austin, TX 78711-2966
TAHC web site: www.tahc.state.tx.us
Ear Tags for Sheep and Goats?
YES. Beginning November 2001, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
requires that certain classes of sheep and goats have PREMISE
identification ear tags applied BEFORE they are moved from their farm to be
sold in interstate commerce OR comingled with sheep and goats from any
other farms. Compliance action in Texas will not be taken until April 1,
Identification requirements extend to:
* ALL sheep 18 months of age
* ALL breeding sheep regardless of age.
* Sexually intact show or exhibition
sheep and goats.
* ALL goats 18 months of age or
older that are or have been
comingled with sheep.
* ALL breeding goats that are or have been comingled with sheep.
NOTE: Identification for goats: Tattoos may be used to identify registered
or meat and dairy show goats, as long as the animals are accompanied by
their registration papers. A PREMISE identification number should be
obtained and the ear tags should be applied to animals being culled or
animals no longer accompanied by registration papers.
Commercial goats and wethers that have not had contact with sheep are
exempt from identification requirements.
The Texas regulations for intrastate movement, will be drafted and
presented to the Texas Animal Health Commission in February 2002. TAHC
regulations will mirror the USDA premise identification requirements.
How Much Will Tags Cost?
Aside from the time it takes to attach the eartag prior to loading sheep
and goats for shipment, there is no cost, if you use the white metal or
white plastic tags provided through the state-federal program. In meetings
with industry representatives, a preference for a PREMISE identification
system was expressed. Therefore, owners will be assigned a unique,
permanent PREMISE identification number. Supplies of ear tags will carry
this number, and a sequential number on the reverse side, which owners may
use in maintaining individual animal records.
A free pair of tag pliers will be provided with the first shipment of tags.
To get your PREMISE identification number and order free tags, call the
toll-free designated toll-free "tag line" at 1-866-873-2824.
Tags are shipped by UPS, so be prepared to provide a physical shipping
Approved vendors offer other styles of official PREMISE identification tags
that may be purchased after you get your premise number. A list of approved
vendors can be obtained by calling the toll-free "tag line," or checking
the web site:
Tagging and Records
Identified sheep and goats may carry several ear tags, depending on how
many premises or flocks from which they have been moved or sold. Tags are
to accurately reflect the premises on which the animals have been comingled
with other sheep or goats.
Federal regulations require that records on purchases and sales be
maintained for five years for disease investigation purposes. To comply
with record keeping requirements when selling sheep and goats at the
livestock market, have your premise identification number recorded on the
market check-in document.
For private treaty transactions, be sure the seller has met tagging
requirements and record the seller's premise identification number on your
receipt or bill of sale.
In l947, scrapie, a fatal degenerative brain disease affecting sheep and
goats, was accidentally introduced into the U.S.
Although older animals can be exposed and become infected, lambs and kids
are most susceptible to the disease. Usually, lambs and kids are exposed to
scrapie through fluids and tissues associated with birthing,
Scrapie develops slowly, and infected animals usually don't show signs of the
disease -- including weight loss, tremors, loss of coordination, swaying,
or wool pulling -- until they are 18 months of age or older. Infected dams
may shed the infectious agent -- or prion -- during lambing without showing
clinical signs of disease.
The true prevalence of scrapie in the U.S. is not known. In the past,
surveillance, animal identification methods and eradication programs
haven't been successful. The PREMISE identification system will enable
epidemiologists to traced diseased animals to their flocks or herds. This
a key element in this disease eradication
An Issue Affecting Trade
Animal industries in today's global marketplace must conduct adequate
disease surveillance and provide accurate information on disease prevalence
and eradication to maintain trade opportunities for live animals and animal
products, such as breeding stock, semen and embryos.
The American Sheep Institute (ASI), in l998, identified scrapie as an
important trade issue, estimating the industry loses more than $20 million
each year in lost export sales, extra disposal costs for dead sheep and
offal, and lost
productivitiy. In the settlement of an ASI-filed trade action suit,
federal funds were committed to support a national scrapie eradication
Eradicating the disease will heighten the industry's credibility and
reputation for supplying wholesome and healthy animals and products. By
2010, U.S. animal health officials and sheep industry leaders say scrapie
can be eliminated.
By 2017, the U.S. goal is to be declared officially scrapie-free by
Historically, black-faced or black-faced crossbred sheep have been stricken
with scrapie most often. For international trade purposes, the livestock
industry must prove that other sheep breeds, and goats, are not affected.
The benefits of eradicating the disease? Australia and New Zealand, have
scrapie-free designations, and these nations freely sell breeding stock
worldwide with minimal restrictions.
After Ear Tags, What?
Slaughter surveillance for scrapie in sheep will begin soon, as a disease
detection tool. For the first time, this will allow the industry to know
the incidence of this disease.
The incidence of scrapie in goats has been extremely low, so slaughter
sampling for this species will not be conducted at this time. However,
goats are susceptible to scrapie, and when they are comingled with sheep,
registered, breeding, or exhibition goats must be identified as discussed
earlier in this brochure.
Scrapie in My Flock?
Based on the exposure risk, owner's needs, and applicable regulations, a
state or federal regulatory veterinarian will develop a clean-up and
monitoring plan for diseased and exposed flocks. This may include a
combination of partial depopulation and movement restrictions to prevent
potential disease spread.
The use of pilot projects will provide more options to producers for the
elimination of scrapie, while retaining valuable genetics.
An federal indemnity payment, based on fair market value will be available. A
premium will be paid for registered animals, based on their age.
In the past, the only way to detect scrapie was to examine brain tissue. A
animal test, called the "third eyelid test" is expected to be approved by
late 2002 and will be used to test suspect or exposed animals. Genetic
testing is also being evaluated to determine disease-reistance of animals.
Moving Sheep & Goats
As always, it is a good idea to check with the state of destination before
moving livestock across state lines.
An voluntary scrapie certification program has been instituted, and if
you'd like to know more, call Texas' USDA-APHIS -VS office in Austin at
1-512-916-5552. A brochure also is available by mail, or on the "web" at