8 June 2001

Scrapie proving tough customer to combat

CASES of scrapie in sheep remained above the 500 mark in 2000, continuing the pattern of the past five years, according to the MAFF report Animal Health 2000.

Commenting on the report, NSA chief executive John Thorley says the figures are as expected, but should improve over the next three to four years as the National Scrapie Plan gets into gear.

"The plan aims to eradicate the disease from the industry by selective breeding of rams which are naturally resistant to the disease," he says. "It started by identifying which rams of sire breeds are scrapie resistant.

"Producers should now start looking out for scrapie-resistant lambs as they become available within the plan. A lot of work and effort has already been undertaken by breeders to produce these resistant lambs."

Mr Thorley is confident that the UK sheep industry will become free of scrapie by implementing the plan. Also, producers are promptly identifying and reporting new cases because the symptoms of scrapie are well known.

MAFF compensation rates for confirmed cases are based on average cull prices, but this cannot be calculated because of the loss of the markets with foot-and-mouth. MAFF announced recently that the April rate of £28.95 would also apply in June. &#42