Defra has agreed that the results of scrapie genotyping tests carried out by SAC can be used for breeding sheep bound for export within the EU.
Blackface sheep at SAC's Kirkton Farm
Previously, sheep tested by SAC had to be re-tested in another laboratory before leaving the country.
Scrapie genotyping underpinned the National Scrapie Plan (NSP) which excluded those sheep with the particular groups of genes that made them susceptible to scrapie. It was introduced in 2002 following fears that BSE may have passed into the sheep population and perhaps be mistaken for sheep scrapie, a similar disease but one that has never been found harmful to humans. Following advice that there was no evidence that BSE was established in British sheep the government withdrew the NSP in 2008.
However, the correct scrapie status is important to many flock owners, including the 3,000 British members of SAC’s Premium Sheep and Goat Health Scheme. Most of these breeders are members of the Maedi Visna (MV) Accreditation Scheme while some are members of the EAE Accreditation Scheme. Both these schemes involve blood testing and, with this latest development, it is expected that breeders will seize the opportunity to ask their vets to also test for scrapie genotype.
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