landing picture

National Scrapie Eradication Program

Scrapie is a fatal, degenerative disease that affects the brain, muscles, and central nervous system of sheep and goats. The disease is believed to be caused by an abnormal protein, known as a prion, which acts as the infectious and contagious agent. Scrapie is likely spread from mother to offspring and/or other herd/flock members through contact with afterbirth. Sheep or goats infected with the disease may exhibit behavioral changes due to damaged nerve cells. These signs progress until the animal dies. There is currently no cure or treatment for scrapie.

Minnesota is part of a nationwide program to eliminate scrapie across the United States. As part of the Scrapie Eradication Program, anyone who buys or sells sheep or goats in Minnesota is required to register with the Board. In addition, all sheep and goats must be officially identified when they leave the farm and before they are commingled with sheep or goats from other flocks or herds. Official identification is important because it makes it possible to trace a diseased or exposed animal to its flock of origin where disease control strategies can be implemented.

The Scrapie Eradication Program consists of the following components:

  • Identification of infected sheep or goats through nationwide slaughter surveillance.
  • Tracing of infected animals to their flock or herd of origin.
  • Quarantine and testing of exposed animals sold from an infected or source flock or herd.
  • Voluntary genetic testing of sheep to determine susceptibility to scrapie.

Producers may register their herd/flock by contacting the Board at (651) 201-6809 or by submitting the online form available by clicking on this link.

General Requirements for Owning Sheep and Goats

Official Identification

All sheep and goats, including wethers, must be officially identified upon movement from one flock/herd to another and before they are commingled with sheep and goats from other flocks and herds. Official tags are available to Minnesota producers after registering for the National Scrapie Eradication Program using this online form.

Please be aware, the USDA has made changes to the official identification guidelines. Click this link or contact the USDA at 1-866-873-2824 for more information about obtaining official flock/herd ID tags and applicators.

Producers should never allow other producers to use their official scrapie ID tags. If an animal loses an ear tag, it can be replaced with an official scrapie tag assigned to the producer; as long as records indicate the animal’s origin. When the animal’s origin is unknown, producers should not use their assigned scrapie tags to replace the lost ID. For more information regarding lost ear tags, contact the Board at 651-201-6809.

Record Requirements

Anyone who applies official identification that has been assigned to a producer must maintain the following records:

  • Date the identification was applied.
  • Number of sheep and goats identified.
  • Identification numbers applied.
  • Name and address of the flock of birth, if different from the current flock.

Anyone who applies official identification that is not assigned directly to the producer must maintain the following records:

  • Date the identification was applied.
  • Number of sheep and goats identified.
  • Serial tag numbers applied.
  • Name and address of the flock where the animal currently or most recently resided.

All records pertaining to the movement of sheep and goats must be maintained for at least five years after the sale or disposition of the animal. Records must be available for inspection and copying at any reasonable time by an authorized agent of the Board.

Owner/Hauler Statements

The USDA’s Scrapie Final Rule, effective April 24, 2019, requires that any sheep or goat (excluding wethers under 18 months) moving in slaughter channels or moving without official identification have an owner/hauler statement in transit.

When is an owner/hauler statement (OHS) required?

In each of the below situations, sheep or goats are required to move with a completed OHS that includes all federally required information.

Movement within Minnesota

The following groups of sheep and goats are excluded from the requirement to move with an OHS: wethers under 18 months, animals that have never been in slaughter channels, and animals that have never been in interstate commerce.

Sheep and goats that were born on a Minnesota farm where they have resided only with other animals born into that flock/herd are considered to have never been in slaughter channels or interstate commerce. Therefore, these animals may move without an OHS to a state or state/federal approved livestock market without official identification if they are officially identified at the market before being commingled with sheep or goats from other flocks, and if all required information from the OHS is captured upon arrival at the market. The seller will be liable for any incurred charges associated with market personnel identifying the animals upon arrival.

An OHS is required for movement to the following Minnesota destinations, unless an exclusion above applies:

  1. A state or state-federal approved livestock market.
  2. A slaughter establishment.
  3. A state-approved terminal feedlot.
  4. An individual’s premises for personal slaughter.
Importation into Minnesota

Please see our ‘Import Regulations’ page for a complete set of requirements. An OHS is required for:

  1. Sheep or goats under 18 months of age (excluding wethers) in slaughter channels moving from a farm of origin to a state/federal approved livestock market. Note: The only sheep or goats that may be imported to a state/federal livestock market without official identification are those under 18 months in slaughter channels that will be slaughtered by 18 months of age.
  2. Sheep or goats (excluding wethers under 18 months) moving to a federally inspected slaughter establishment.

An owner/hauler statement requires the information below.

There is no required form. Please see the link to the right ‘Owner/Hauler Statement Template’ as one option that may be used for sheep and goats entering Minnesota or moving within Minnesota.

  • Name, address, and phone number of the owner and, if different, the hauler.
  • Date the animals were moved.
  • Flock identification number or PIN assigned to the flock or premises of the animals.
  • If moving individually unidentified animals or other animals required to move with a group/lot identification number, the group/lot identification number and any information required to officially identify the animals.
  • Number of animals.
  • Species, breed, and class of animals. If breed is unknown, for sheep the face color and for goats the type (milk, fiber, or meat) must be recorded instead.
  • The name and address of point of origin, if different from the owner’s address, and the destination name and address.
  • For imported animals the destination must be a federally inspected slaughter establishment or a state/federal approved livestock market (where animals will be sold only to an authorized slaughter buyer or a state approved terminal feedlot). Must include a statement that the animals are in slaughter channels. Within Minnesota only, the destination must be a state or state/federal approved livestock market, a state approved terminal feedlot, a slaughter establishment, or an individual for personal consumption. For animals moving within Minnesota in slaughter channels, the OHS must include a statement that the animals are in slaughter channels.
  • Signature of owner or hauler.

Scrapie Susceptibility and Genetics

Genetic testing also referred to as DNA testing or genotyping can determine a sheep’s susceptibility to scrapie. Scrapie resistance is determined by gene factors called codons. The most important codons relating to scrapie resistance are the codons numbered 171 and 136.

A blood sample is all that is required to test for scrapie susceptibility. It should be noted that genotyping only indicates an animal’s susceptibility to the disease and not the presence or absence of the actual scrapie disease agent.

In general, codon 171 yields “Q” or “R” factors and codon 136 yields “A” or “V” factors. It is desired to breed with rams that have at least one “R” factor. Selecting and retaining rams with “RR” in their genetic code will have the most impact on developing a scrapie-resistant flock.

 

Genotypes related to scrapie susceptibility
QQAA – highly susceptible QRAA – rarely susceptible
QQAV – highly susceptible QRAV – susceptible to some strains
QQVV – highly susceptible QRVV – susceptible to some strains
RRAA – Scrapie resistant genotype

 

At this time, there are no approved official genetic tests for goats. The United States Department of Agriculture is currently conducting research in order to determine which codons affect scrapie susceptibility in goats.

Genotype testing is available through private veterinarians, or the test may be conducted by producers for management purposes. For further information regarding genotype testing, and for a list of approved laboratories, contact the Board at 651-201-6809.

 

Scrapie Free Flock Certification Program

The Scrapie Free Flock Certification Program (SFCP) is a voluntary program for sheep and goat producers to enhance the marketability of their animals by certifying their flock as scrapie-free. The SFCP monitors flocks by through annual inspections and/or testing of animals depending on which enrollment option is chosen.

The longer a flock is enrolled and in compliance with program requirements, the greater the likelihood that the flock is scrapie-free. The United States Department of Agriculture registers flocks and maintains records.

For more information, including a list of enrolled flocks, approved ear tags, and program requirements and standards, visit the USDA Scrapie-Free Flock Certification Program web page.

To apply for the SFCP, contact Kelly Neisen at (651) 260-4570 or by email at kelly.j.neisen@aphis.usda.gov.

Ovine Progressive Pneumonia/Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis

Ovine progressive pneumonia (OPP) and related caprine arthritis-encephalitis (CAE), collectively known as small ruminant lentiviruses or SRLVs (also called Maedi-Visna in other parts of the world) are slowly progressive viral diseases resulting in reduced profits. OPP affects nearly half of Minnesota sheep flocks and transmission between sheep and goats has been well documented. Common early signs are loss of body condition and labored breathing or coughing while at rest, as well as swollen joints and lameness. The viruses can also cause “hard bag,” an enlarged, firm udder with little or no milk flow. Infected animals remain so for life though many will never exhibit clinical signs of disease.

There is no vaccine or cure, and earlier eradication methods involved costly rigid culling of test-positive animals and/or orphan rearing of young stock. Minnesota recently completed a 4-year trial documenting
a less expensive eradication method. Click this link to learn more about the trial and review the OPP Eradication Trial Report.

OPP/CAE Program

In 2006, in partnership with USDA-APHIS Veterinary Services and the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, and the OPP Concerned Sheep Breeders Society, the Board of Animal Health introduced a voluntary OPP/CAE pilot program. Originally offered as an optional add-on to USDA’s voluntary Scrapie Flock Certification Program, this is now a stand-alone program and any flock or herd in Minnesota may enroll.

For information about the program, refer to the OPP/CAE Program Guidelines. To participate, complete the OPP/CAE Program Application and follow the instructions for submitting to the Board.

The following Minnesota flocks/herds are enrolled, complete testing requirements and follow program guidelines in an effort to achieve and maintain test-negative status:

OPP Program Flocks – Updated June 2019
Flock Owner Farm Name Farm County Enrollment Date Flock Status Breed
Diane Ayers Flat Rock Farm Todd 08/08/2014 Test-negative Border Leicester, Jacob
Jessica Blair Fire Rock Farm Pope 05/05/2017 Enrolled Polypay x Katahdin
Michael Curley Curley Family Suffolks Cottonwood 07/11/2006 Test-negative Suffolk
Jean/Steve Froehlich Family Snake River Lincolns Kanabec 10/17/2017 Test-negative Lincoln
Phillip Gill Gill Farms Brown 09/12/2016 Enrolled Hampshire x Suffolk
Robert Goerger Ovine Ranch Lac qui Parle 01/30/2018 Enrolled Cross breeds
Dan Hammond Fish Creek Farm Todd 06/24/2016 Test-negative Columbia x Dorset
Margo/Ray Hanson Marsh Creek Crossing Norman 03/02/2009 Test-negative Border Leicester, Border Leicester x Siremax
Margaret Johnson Fellwoods Farm Rice 04/24/2019 Enrolled Border Leicester
Judy Lewman Spring Creek Farm Hennepin 03/24/2006 Test-negative Border Leicester
Holly Neaton Neaton Polypays Carver 03/10/2019 Enrolled Polypay
Bets Reedy Bramble Hill Houston 08/02/2006 Enrolled Clun Forest
Tim Reese Gale Woods Farm Hennepin 03/03/2006 Test-negative Border Leicester, Finnsheep, Border Leicester x Finnsheep x Corriedale
Karen Stormo Avalon Farm Clearwater 08/20/2016 Enrolled Border Leicester, Columbia, Icelandic
Susan Wiegrefe Prairie Plum Farm Fillmore 04/22/2019 Enrolled Babydoll Southdown, Finn

OPP Eradication Trial (2013 - 2017)

In 2013 selected producers tested a new OPP eradication strategy based on USDA research findings. This was a collaborative effort with the  Minnesota Lamb and Wool Producers Association, the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, UDSA-APHIS Veterinary Services, the Board of Animal Health, the ‘Minnesota Grown’ Program, and the OPP Concerned Sheep Breeders Society.

The trial ended in late 2017 and four producers participated for the entire four-year trial. Two of the four have now received two consecutive annual 100-percent negative tests and one flock has doubled in size since the start of the trial. Methods used in the trial do not require premature culling of test-positive adults or orphan rearing of lambs and can be applied in any flock/herd. Click this link to review the OPP Eradication Trial Report on the OPP Society website.