EAST LANSING, Mich. — Scrapie is a fatal disease that damages the central nervous system of sheep and goat. The degenerative disease has no cure or treatment. The National Scrapie Eradication Program, coordinated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), has reduced the prevalence of scrapie in adult sheep sampled at slaughter by over 99 percent. However, the cooperation of sheep and goat producers is needed to find and eliminate the last few cases in the United States. Producers are required to follow Federal and State regulations for officially identifying their sheep and goats. Producers must also keep herd records, showing what new animals were added and what animals left the herd/flock.
In Michigan, all sheep and goats must be identified with official identification (ID) approved by the national scrapie program to move off a farm. There are many forms of ID which qualify as official ID for the scrapie program. Michigan State University Extension recommends against buying any animal that does not have official ID, either tattoos or eartags.
Plastic and Metal Scrapie ID Tags
At this time, the USDA is providing official metal ear tags free of charge to producers. In the past USDA has provide plastic ear tags to producers free of charge, but as of October 2017 only metal ear tags will be provided free of charge. Producers may still order plastic ear tags from an approved tag manufacturer and pay for them themselves. Producers who want to order tags should contact the USDA Michigan office at 517-337-4705. Each scrapie tag has the flock ID, the production number and an official US shield. Blue tags (metal or plastic) may only be used in animals intended for slaughter.
A scrapie tattoo must be legible and include both the scrapie flock ID and the unique herd management number. Scrapie tattoos can be placed in the ear, tail web or flank.
Official Registry Tattoos
For goats, legible official registry tattoos must be recorded in a goat purebred registry association’s book and official documentation must accompany the animals.
Use of microchips is strongly discouraged. There are many requirements to use a microchip as the sole official ID. For more details contact the USDA Michigan office.
— Mike Metzger, Michigan State University Extension
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