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Stackyard News Apr 09

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    New HISHA Contract for Healthy Sheep from the Highlands

A new arrangement between SAC and HISHA (the Highlands & Island Sheep Health Association) allows sheep farmers in the Highlands and Islands to continue delivering breeding stock to UK customers that is free from Enzootic Abortion.

blackface ewe

While the HISHA scheme has been running well for over 20 years there were fears the dwindling numbers of Highland flocks placed the regime at risk. Under the new contract, SAC will now administer the programme on HISHA’s behalf.

HISHA is a farmer-led organisation which was established in 1988 with the remit of keeping Enzootic Abortion of ewes (EAE) out of the breeding and hill flocks in the Highlands & Islands area. Enzootic Abortion (chlamydiosis) is an infectious disease that can lead to aborted or weakly lambs and poor fertility. While it affects mainly sheep and goats, pregnant women may be susceptible.

The HISHA scheme has guaranteed the sheep produced by members in the area are of high health status and are available for sale to flock masters throughout the UK. The HISHA organisation is funded by a levy based on breeding ewe numbers which is also used to promote effective marketing. For over 20 years blood testing of the sheep and the award of accredited status to flocks has been undertaken by SAC Consulting: Veterinary Services.

Following the large scale reduction of flocks in the Highlands & Islands area, the HISHA board re-evaluated their operation and issued tenders for blood testing and business administration. An EGM of HISHA in Dingwall Mart decided to award the tender to the Premium Sheep & Goat Health Scheme (PSGHS) operated by SAC Consulting: Veterinary Services.

SAC’s Ian Pritchard (PSGHS) is delighted that HISHA appreciates the valuable service that SAC has delivered and looks forward to working more closely with the HISHA board.

According to Ken Fraser, HISHA Chairman, flock masters throughout the British Isles should recognise the value of buying sheep with accredited status for EAE.

“Board members have worked hard to try and ensure the continuation of the HISHA scheme at a time when declining sheep numbers and strained finances are hitting the industry hard and hopefully, with this new arrangement, there will be benefits for HISHA members, SAC and, very importantly, UK sheep farmers for whom there is a continued source of quality, healthy, EAE-free breeding stock."

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