A new U.S. Department of Agriculture regulation to improve disease traceability in sheep and goats has been published in the Federal Register. The rule, which was first proposed in 2015, has been anticipated by the U.S. sheep and goat industry since 2016.
A foundational component of the scrapie eradication program is the ability to trace diseased animals to their flock of origin. The new rule makes the identification and record keeping requirements for goat owners consistent with those requirements that sheep owners have followed for many years.
Like sheep producers, producers of goats for meat or fiber and slaughter goats more than 18 months of age will be required to officially identify their animals to their flocks of birth or flocks of origin, and to maintain certain identification records for five years.
There is flexibility in the type of official identification that can be used, but the device or method must be approved in accordance with USDA regulations.
The American Sheep Industry Association’s Peter Orwick said goat producers will notice some changes as well as those moving animals in slaughter channels or transporting unidentified sheep or goats.
“This latest installment is a regulatory update by USDA APHIS to take the final step for eradication of scrapie in sheep in the United States,” said Orwick. “So, for most producers there won’t be a change. If you’re a goat producer, this rule brings you closer on par with what sheep producers have already been doing for nearly 20 years in scrapie eradication and animal I.D.”
He added the new rule finally recognizes the work by U.S. sheep and goat producers as APHIS is recognizing the genetic testing done over the last 15 years to get scrapie resistance built into our commercial herds, particularly purebred and breeding animals.
Offiicials also want to recognize the sheep industry’s I.D. system, which can’t be replicated in livestock.
Orwick said the new regulation also ensures the overall health and safety of U.S. sheep and goats to customers.
“If you have breeding stock to sell that are disease free, you’re able to trade seed stock with other countries,” he said.
The new rule takes effect on April 24.
-Reported by Russell Nemetz/MTN News