Reminder for Colorado sheep and goats

News
Nov 20, 2009
by WLJ
Reminder for Colorado sheep and goats

The Colorado Department of Agriculture reminds Colorado producers to tag and identify their sheep and goats for scrapie prior to a change of ownership or going to a livestock show.

“This is the time of year when many producers will be taking their livestock to market and most sheep and goats are required to be tagged; this is an important step in protecting the industry,” said Colorado State Veterinarian Dr. Keith Roehr.

In 2001, USDA announced an accelerated program to eradicate scrapie in the nation’s sheep flocks and goat herds. The National Scrapie Eradication Program includes participation by state governments and industry, particularly producers.

Scrapie is an infectious and fatal disease of sheep and goats which causes production losses and a degeneration of the central nervous system resulting in a variety of behavioral and locomotive changes. Symptoms include tremors, scratching or rubbing, weakness, weight loss, biting of feet and limbs, lip smacking, lack of coordination, and gait abnormalities including high-stepping of the forelegs, hopping like a rabbit, and swaying of the back end. The scrapie agent is thought to be spread most commonly from the ewe to her offspring at lambing and through contact between infected and susceptible sheep and goats.

The presence of the infection prevents the export of breeding stock, semen, and embryos to many other countries and costs the sheep industry between $20-25 million per year.

“Producers are required to tag goats due to Colorado’s loss of commercial goat status,” continued Roehr. “If Colorado is to receive that status again, we must remain vigilant in protecting our herds from this disease.”

Sheep required to be officially tagged:

• All sexually intact sheep regardless of age and wethers 18 months of age and older upon change of ownership or cull animals moving to slaughter.

•All sexually intact sheep regardless of age and wethers 18 months of age and older for show or exhibition.

•All breeding sheep regardless of age upon change of ownership or cull animals moving to slaughter.

•Exception: Lambs moving directly to feedlots for slaughter and federally inspected slaughter facilities.

Goats required to be officially tagged:

•All sexually intact goats regardless of age and wethers 18 months of age and older upon change of ownership or cull animals moving to slaughter.

•All sexually intact goats regardless of age and wethers 18 months of age and older for show or exhibition and do not have a registration tattoo with registration or the tattoo is illegible.

•Due to scrapie found in goats in Colorado, all commercial sexually intact goats regardless of age and wethers 18 months of age and older not in slaughter channels.

•All breeding goats regardless of age upon change of ownership or cull animals moving to slaughter.

•Exception: Kid goats moving directly to feedlots for slaughter and federally inspected slaughter facilities.

The Colorado Department of Agriculture is charged with regulating and reporting tagging rates, disease control, and is available to advise producers on the tagging process. — WLJ

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