Breeders of 11 sheep breeds (see below) submitting rams with any scrapie susceptible allele for semen collection by the Semen Archive can now receive an incentive of £50 for every ram from which semen is frozen.

Breed societies for these 11 mainstream breeds will also receive £50 for every ram carrying any susceptible genotype approved for semen collection, says Semen Archive breed liaison manager Simon Farmer.

Also for rams with a VRQ allele an incentive of £50 is available to the relevant breed society if it approves a ram’s nomination. “Sufficient numbers of VRQ allele rams need identifying soon because of the introduction of the compulsory ram genotyping scheme next year.  This scheme will make it a legal requirement for VRQ carrying rams in purebred flocks to be culled or castrated,” explains Mr Farmer.

Similar incentives will be available to Northern Irish breed societies and breeders submitting rams to the Northern Ireland, although the payment for all susceptible genotypes will be limited to three mainstream breeds.

Semen Archive Management Board chairman Peter Baber says the new incentives recognise the vital roel that breed societies and sheep breeders will play in safeguarding the genetic heritage of the national flock.

• Scrapie susceptible alleles are AHQ, ARH, ARQ, VRQ.
• The 11 mainstream breeds for mainland UK are Blueface Leicester, Charollais, Lleyn, North Country Cheviot, Scottish Blackface, Shetland (Island), Swaledale, Suffolk, Texel, Welsh Hill Speckled Face and Welsh Mountain (Hill Flock section).
• The three mainstream breeds for Northern Ireland are Scottish Blackface, Suffolk and Texel.