TDA Implements Emergency Rules to Protect Small Ruminant Industry

Sunday, October 22, 2006 | 07:00pm

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Department of Agriculture announced the implementation of new emergency rules to help protect sheep and goats from the threat of scrapie and to ensure market access for Tennessee producers.   

The new rules require sheep and goats that are moved within the state to be permanently identified to allow animals to be traced to their flock or herd of origin.  The new rules also reinforce the requirement that sheep and goats imported into or through Tennessee have a health certificate from an accredited veterinarian.  The emergency rules, which became effective Aug. 30, will become permanent on Dec. 30.

According to State Veterinarian Ron Wilson, the new rules apply to all sheep, with the exception of wethers that are not participating in shows or exhibitions.  Wethers are young castrated male sheep under 18 months in age.  All registered breeding goats, goats that have been commingled with sheep, goats for exhibition and dairy goats are required to have official identification.

“These emergency rules are designed to help protect Tennessee’s growing sheep and goat populations from the threat of scrapie,” said Dr. Wilson.  “The rules also help bring Tennessee in line with federal scrapie program requirements, and more importantly will help ensure the marketability of Tennessee sheep and goats.”

Scrapie is a fatal, degenerative disease affecting the central nervous system of sheep and goats.  It is among a number of diseases classified as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, or TSEs.  Infected flocks that contain a high percentage of susceptible animals can experience significant production losses.  The presence of scrapie in the United States also prevents the export of breeding stock, semen and embryos.

USDA has initiated an accelerated scrapie eradication program based on the early identification of infected sheep, surveillance and better herd and flock management.  According to Wilson, in order for the federal program to work, states have to be able to control the intrastate movement of sheep and goats. 

For more information about the new rules or acceptable methods of permanently identifying sheep and goats, contact the Tennessee Department of Agriculture State Veterinarian’s Office at (615) 837-5118, or visit online at and select the Animal Health link.

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