SAC has launched a new Maedi Visna (MV) test package for commercial flock owners to encourage the commercial sector to act against disease.

Catriona Ritchie, SAC consulting veterinary centre manager, says while many terminal sire flocks regularly test for MV and have good biosecurity to prevent infection, the commercial sector has “largely ignored” the risk.

In response, the new SAC package aims to encourage more commercial flock owners to test for MV by providing a simple and affordable means of doing so. It involves testing only 12 of a flock’s thinner ewes and costs just £35.

Ms Ritchie says: “We are hearing more and more reports about how MV affects the productivity and profitability of flocks. MV infection has a long incubation period and it can spread unnoticed within, and between, flocks for many years before the effects of infection are seen. By this time it is likely that at least half of the flock is infected, and the economic losses incurred are so great that culling of the entire flock and re-stocking is often the only option.”

The aim of the new diagnostic package is to offer an affordable way for flock owners to pick up MV’s presence before the clinical signs are evident. Early detection makes eradication easier and much less expensive.

SAC recommends that farmers whose flocks are free of infection take advantage of this by joining the MV accreditation scheme. In addition to the benefits of being able to promote stock as being MV accredited, following the rules of the scheme significantly reduces the risk of future MV infection.

SAC can also use the blood samples taken for the MV test to carry out additional analysis, such as identifying trace elements and Johne’s disease.

Further information about the MV Diagnostic Test and the MV accreditation scheme can be obtained from the Premium Sheep & Goat Health Scheme on 01463 226995 or from www. sac.co.uk/sghs.