9 May 1997

Suffolks do differ in their susceptibility to scrapie

LATEST results from a study of scrapie in a Suffolk sheep flock support earlier findings that Suffolks coding QQ171 are highly susceptible to scrapie, while no RR171 animals develop scrapie.

The results were presented by Brian Hosie, senior veterinary investigation officer, SAC Veterinary Services, Edinburgh, to the Sheep Veterinary Society meeting in Derbyshire.

Mr Hosie also reported that almost half the Suffolk sheep from pedigree flocks tested were RR171 and only 8% were of the susceptible QQ171 genotype.

"By breeding only from RR171 rams, the Suffolk breed should be able to increase genetic resistance to scrapie quickly," he said. The genetics in other breeds were more complicated but they could also make progress by selection on genotype.

Cost of the scrapie gene test has fallen from £70 to £40 an animal. Blood samples should be taken by a vet, said Mr Hosie.

lThe Swaledale Sheep Breeders Association has won EU and MAFF cash to fund 50% of the £816,000 it will spend over five years on its scrapie gene testing programme set up to develop a pool of scrapie resistant sheep. &#42