Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Mandatory Indentification of Sheep and Goats in Pennsylvania

Scrapie is a fatal disease of the central nervous system of sheep and goats. It is characterized by the formation of holes in the cells of the brain. Scrapie causes the loss of nervous system functions. Symptoms include weight loss, biting at legs or body, tremors, star gazing, uncoordinated hind leg movement, falling, stumbling, wool pulling, and death.

Since 2000, sixteen flocks have been in infected and seventy five flocks were exposed to scrapie in Pennsylvania. Each year, the presence of scrapie costs US producers between $20-$25 million dollars. Scrapie tags are necessary to trace scrapie positive animals back to their original flock to help prevent this fatal disease from spreading. Since January 1, 2009, scrapie identification of all sheep and goats is mandatory. It is now illegal to transport sheep and goats without official scrapie identification. This includes lambs born in Pennsylvania as well as imported animals.

People transporting sheep and goats without official scrapie identification may be subject to criminal and/or civil penalties of up to $10,000 per violation. You may obtain your FREE USDA issued ear tags and ear tag applicator by calling the United States Department of Agriculture- Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service office in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania at 1-866-873-2824.

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