Lambing season prompts reminder for Colorado sheep and goat owners

News
Mar 19, 2010
by WLJ

The Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) 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.

“Lambing season is a good time for producers to consider when to tag their sheep and goats; not only are herd sizes expanding, but there is typically an increase in livestock movement and county fairs will be starting soon,” said 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 (NSEP) 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.

In 1947, the first case of scrapie was diagnosed in the U.S. in sheep originating from Britain via Canada. 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.

NSEP set tagging rules to help protect the sheet and goat industry:

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 under 18 months of age moving directly to feedlots for slaughter and 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 under 18 months of age moving directly to feedlots for slaughter and slaughter facilities.

CDA 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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