19 October 2001

Suffolks join the scrapie plan

MORE than 600 Suffolk breeders have registered with the National Scrapie Plan, leading the way in the recently launched government eradication scheme, says the Suffolk Sheep Society.

"Nobody has had much time to think about scrapie resistance, but as foot-and-mouth ebbs away it is going to become increasingly important," says breed society chairman, Philip Long.

"It wont be long before commercial lamb producers come under pressure to demonstrate a degree of scrapie resistance in their lambs. Suffolk genotypes are proven to be 50% totally resistant and 92% predominantly resistant."

Mr Long is keen for all registered Suffolk breeders to use the Suffolks scrapie resistant gene-bank by signing up with the NSP. "This scheme is currently free. It wont continue indefinitely, but there are a few misconceptions of which breeders should be aware."

Breeders who are already scrapie genotyping, or have purchased genotyped rams, still need to register with the NSP, he says. In addition, the NSP does not replace the scrapie monitoring system, required for export.

The NSP will test whatever number of rams are available in the flock and where appropriate will top up numbers with ewes. Breeders planning to disperse their flock can still test for scrapie resistance free of charge.

He also stresses that there will be no enforced culling on Suffolks, because they do not carry "V at 136".

Additions to the NSP announced by DEFRA last week also mean that purebred flocks not registered with breed societies can join the scheme. It hopes this will speed up scrapie eradication in the national flock. &#42