6 June 1997

Group system to aid testing

SCRAPIE test results are likely to be available under a simpler group system within the next few months.

According to SAC senior veterinary investigation officer Brian Hosie, the group system would be used to indicate susceptibility across all breeds, and should make selection for scrapie resistance easier.

"We are due to meet with the Central Vet Lab and Institute of Animal Health in early June to work out the exact details," he told members of the Elite Texel Sires sire reference scheme.

The new grouping system would classify all animals which were highly susceptible to scrapie in one group. These were best avoided where breeders wished to breed-in scrapie resistance, he said.

Sheep with some resistance to scrapie would form the next group. These were animals with some resistance, but which breeders should be careful about using.

The third group would be animals with better resistance, while the fourth group would be those sheep which scrapie was not known to affect – they were resistant to scrapie and were most suited to breeding, said Mr Hosie.

"It is a tool for use in selection, but its not the be all and end all. When you are selecting sheep for breeding or buying them the groupings should mean you know where you stand in any situation. &#42