10 May 2002

Rare breeds being forced out of NSP

BREEDERS are being forced to opt out of the rare breeds section of the National Scrapie Plan (NSP), as a break in testing will leave many producers without approved rams for use this season.

While more than 8000 samples have been taken from rare breeds, there is now a block on taking more samples until at least September, says DEFRA.

"The intervening months have been reserved for testing under the mainstream pedigree and purebred sections of the NSP," explained a DEFRA spokesman. "However, producers who wish to have stock tested before the autumn can defer to the mainstream scheme."

Some breeders, concerned at not having certified rams available for use this season, have chosen to remain outside of the rare breeds section and stay within the mainstream NSP. However, there may be a shortage of approved tups if other members of their breed society have opted to be tested under the rare breeds section.

All breeders who returned expression of interest forms to DEFRA by the end of March will have stock sampled by the end this year, according to DEFRA. This should mean that all breeds will have certified rams available for use next season.

One rare breed which is largely remaining outside of the rare breeds scheme is the Oxford Down, says society secretary John Brigg.

"In private testing before the launch of the NSP, all Oxfords tested were in the top two resistant categories. We recommended members to join the plan." &#42