You are purchasing a sheep from a flock enrolled in the SFCP - Export Category with a status date of 27 September 2015. Included in the packet I give my sheep purchasers will be an Owner's Statement (a requirement of the program).
testing = send tissue samples or blood samples to a certified lab to find out the genotype of your sheep at codon 171 (RR, QR, QQ)
sampling = refers to procedure performed to find out if your sheep has scrapies
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 (TSE). Infected flocks that contain a high percentage of susceptible animals can experience significant production losses. Over a period of several years the number of infected animals increases, and the age at onset of clinical signs decreases making these flocks economically unviable. Animals sold from infected flocks spread scrapie to other flocks.
The presence of scrapie in the United States also prevents the export of breeding stock, semen, and embryos to many other countries. TSEs are the subject of increased attention and concern because of the discovery of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in cattle, the link between BSE and variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) in people, and feline spongiform encephalopathy (FSE) in cats in Europe. See Fact sheet for more detail.
Although rare, there has been verified cases of scrapie in Babydoll Southdown flocks.
I would also like to address the difference between the mandatory and voluntary scrapie programs. The program I am enrolled in is voluntary. The National Scrapie Eradication Program is mandatory. I believe a lot of breeders are not aware of the statutory nature of the NSEP. If you purchase a Babydoll Southdown from anyone, make sure it has an official USDA approved ear tag. A common misconception is the ear tags are required only if the sheep crosses state lines. If a sheep leaves your property, there are very few instances when ear tags are not required.
The National Scrapie Eradication Program (NSEP) - This is a mandatory program that began in 2001 and remains in effect. This program requires sheep and goats to be officially identified before leaving the owner’s property, even if just for a brief show or exhibition. There are a few exceptions to this requirement. The main purpose of this program is to provide trace-back capabilities in the event of a scrapie outbreak. In addition to identifying the animals, producers are required to keep general records for five years (births, deaths, sales and acquisitions). Official identification includes a USDA scrapie tag (available for free by calling 1-866-USDA-TAG). The tags can take two weeks to arrive, so call ahead. Your order will include a free applicator. With certain restrictions, tattoos may be used as official identification, instead of tags. Call for further details about tattooing options. In either case, a Scrapie Premises Identification Number will need to be assigned, which is also available by calling the number above.
Scrapie Flock Certification Program
- This program was established in 1992 through the combined efforts of
APHIS, the States, and the sheep and goat industries. The
a voluntary program for sheep and goat flock owners who wish to reduce
or eliminate the risk of introducing classical scrapie into their
flocks. Flock owners who join the SFCP commit to monitoring their
evidence of scrapie and reporting all clinically suspect animals to
APHIS or State authorities for testing. Monitoring includes
individual animal identification, accurate record-keeping, observation
and evaluation of animals for clinical signs of scrapie (including
death), and testing a specified number of test eligible animals for
scrapie. Participants in the SFCP benefit by decreasing their risk of
introducing the classical scrapie into their flocks. Many
participants also benefit from the increased marketability of sheep
and goats monitored in this program.
SFCP participants choose to participate in 1 of 2 categories: Export Category or the Select Category.
The Export Category is intended for sheep and goat producers who wish to certify their animals as originating from a flock or herd of negligible scrapie risk for increased marketing opportunities, including export. After seven years in the Export Category, producers in the SFCP are eligible to become a Certified flock if all requirements have been met. Participants in this program are listed, by state, on the following website.
The Select Category is intended for flock owners who wish to participate in scrapie risk mitigation with significantly fewer requirements. There are no annual inspections; however flocks in this category will be required to test a minimum number of animals for scrapie. There is no path to certification in this category.
|NSEP||SFCP Export Category|
|Official ID tags required||Official SFCP ID tags required (i.e., tamper evident)|
|ID all animals = 18 months upon change of ownership and all sexually intact animals < 18 months upon change of ownership unless moving in slaughter channels||ID
all animals in flock = 12 months of age
ID all animals < 12 months upon change of ownership unless moving in slaughter channels
|Records of sales/dispositions and acquisitions & Records of tags applied||Additional record keeping requirements|
|No inspections||Annual inspections|
|Can purchase from anyone||Flock status and status date can be affected by additions and commingling|
|No sampling required unless part of an investigation or upon assignment as an infected or source flock||Sampling requirement, all clinical suspects, all found deads, annual sampling minimum, sampling minimum to reach|
At the end of October of 2012, I submitted my application to have my flock become an Export Monitored flock in the SFCP. It was an easy process. I filled out the VS FORM 5-22 JUN 2007 which is available if you call your local State Veterinarian. I mailed the form to the address they had provided me and within a couple of days of mailing it off, I was contacted to set up a date for the Veterinary Medical Officer (VMO) for my area to come out and inspect my farm and sheep. Prior to enrolling in the program, I had already had all of my sheep tested for their genotype at codon 171 and 136 (if the sheep were not RR at codon 171) using the ear tissue collection method and sending the tissue samples to Gene Check, Inc. Since the collection was not "official", I elected to have all of my sheep retested so that APHIS would recognize the results even though it is not a requirement to have your flock officially genotyped to be in the program. My initial flock inspection entailed my VMO drawing a tube of blood from each of my sheep to be sent off to have them "officially" genotyped, checking that each of my sheep had an official USDA approved ear tag and checking the ear tag number and the number of sheep on my premises corresponded with what I had put on my application. He also did a general once-over of each of my sheep and my farm.
The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) will only recognize the results of genotype tests as official if:
- The blood is drawn by an accredited veterinarian or a State or Federal animal health official;
- The sheep is officially identified;
- The sample is submitted with a VS Form 5-29 or State equivalent; and
- The laboratory has been approved by APHIS.
Once the results came back, all of my sheep tested were either RR or QR except for two of my sheep that are QQ. (The results of the "official" tests duplicated the results I had already received.)
Common Genotype Susceptibility/Resistance Combinations
1. AA RR – Sheep that are resistant.
2. AA QR – Sheep that are rarely susceptible.
3. AV QR – Sheep that are susceptible to some scrapie strains*.
4. AA QQ – Sheep that are highly susceptible.
5. AV QQ – Sheep that are highly susceptible.
6. VV QQ – Sheep that are highly susceptible.
*These strains are believed to occur with low frequency in the United States.
At this time, no resistant genotypes have been conclusively identified in goats. There is some preliminary literature suggesting that lysine (K) at codon 222 may be resistant; however, K at codon 222 is uncommon in U.S. goats tested to date. All goats, therefore, should be assumed to be susceptible.
Any sheep that are QQ qualify as test eligible animals and can be sampled for Scrapie to meet ones sampling requirements. There is now a live sampling procedure that can be performed as opposed to the submitting the head to be sampled. In some instances, a head could still be required to be submitted. My two genoytype QQ sheep have been live tested for scrapie. The procedure took less than a minute to perform (it took longer to get them on the fitting stand!) and neither of them reacted at all as if it was painful for them. They were given a local anesthetic before the sample was cut. Neither my ram nor my ewe tested positive for scrapie.
My application was been approved and I am listed on the USDA - APHIS SFCP Current Certification Program Reports pages. In May 2016, updates were made to the SFCP. Here is a link to the National Scrapie Eradication page where the updated standards for the SFCP can be found.
Because the number of scrapie cases continues to decline, many feel the programs are a waste of time and money. However, until it can be documented the U.S. is scrapie free for 7 years, we will not be recognized as a scrapie-free country.
The objective of the National Scrapie Eradication Program is to find and remove the last remaining sheep and goats infected with classical scrapie in the U.S., and then document the absence of the disease for a period of 7 years to gain international recognition as a scrapie-free country.
The USDA-APHIS is now challenged to not only maintain current levels of surveillance through traditional channels such as the mandatory NSEP and the Regulatory Scrapie Slaughter Surveillance program (RSSS) but also to increase flock-level sampling to find the last remaining cases of classical scrapie which is done via the voluntary SFCP.
Because of budgeting issue, the scrapie programs were evaluated with several options considered so revisions could be made to direct every budget dollar toward the most impactful components of the program. In January, 2012, Dr. John Clifford, APHIS Deputy Administrator, signed off on Option 4 which eliminates the Complete Category, revises the Selective category with no annual inspections but with sampling requirements, and maintains the Export category.
Being in the program requires a flock owner to comply with all of the program requirements applicable to their category of participation -- Export Category (standard sampling Protocol, alternative 1 sampling protocol, or alternative 2 sampling protocol), or the Select Category. The revised standards for the SFCP is 73 pages of "government speak" long. In addition, it is helpful to have a copy of the 12 pages of "additional government speak" definitions from the Scrapie Eradication Uniform Methods and Rules, June 1, 2005. I read the documents from cover to cover several times and had many questions. Most of the questions revolved around how I would ever be able to meet the sampling requirements with my small flock and eventually be Export Certified. After almost three months of communication, Dr. Alan Huddleston, VMD, Associate National Scrapie Program Coordinator, and his team wrote and approved for distribution the SFCP - Export Category Sampling Requirements in Genetically Resistant and Genetically Susceptible Flocks Following the Standard Sampling Protocol. I believe these sampling requirements will allow me, as well as others with small flocks, to be able to progress in the program and become Export Certified. The updated SFCP standards address the above.
I urge you to do your part in helping the United States gain international recognition as a scrapie-free country. If you have questions about the scrapie programs, please feel free to contact me.Possible Genotypes of Lambs
Based on the sire and dam's genotype, the following tables represent the probability of the genotypes that EACH offspring will have. Each of the four highlighted squares represents a 25% probability.
If two "QQ" animals are bred, ALL offspring will be "QQ". If two "RR" animals are bred, ALL offspring will be "RR". This is because both parents are passing on the same gene.
If an "RR" animal is bred to a "QQ" animal, the resulting offspring will ALL be "QR" because one parent is passing on an "R" and the other is passing on a "Q".
If a "QR" ram is bred to an "RR" ewe (it doesn't matter if the genotypes are reversed e.g. the ewe is "QR" and the ram is "RR"), the ewe can only pass on an "R" gene, but EACH of the offspring have a 50% chance of receiving a "Q" gene and 50% chance of receiving an "R" gene from the ram.
If a "QR" ram is bred to a "QQ" ewe, the ewe can only pass on a "Q" gene, but EACH of the offspring have a 50% chance of receiving a "Q" gene and 50% chance of an "R" gene from the ram.
|R||QR||Q R 50%|
If a "QR" animal is bred to another "QR" animal, the offspring may be one of the three genotypes. The odds are 50% "QR", 25% "QQ", and 25% "RR".
|R||QR 50%||RR 25%|
Keep in mind, an "RR" flock is optimal for reduced scrapie risk. However, if you are breeding to sell breeding stock, there is a lot more to consider in a well-rounded breeding program than just your sheeps' genotype, e.g. conformation, mothering abilities, coeffient of inbreeding, etc.* information obtained from USDA - APHIS website and contact with regional and local VMOs