Saturday, December 18, 2010

Voluntary/Manditory Federal Government Intrusion concerning your sheep and goats

I've been contacted by the Federal Government concerning their Scrapie Identification Requirements for Sheep and Goats.  It seems that I have been breaking the law and they are determined to make me comply.  For any of you who have sheep or goats, did you know about this government intrusion?  Scrapie is a fatal disease...sort of like mad cow disease.  It is only is certain sheep, primarily Suffolk, which I do not have.  In 2003 the USDA found .2 percent of cull sheep, that's 1 in 500 of cull sheep were infected or exposed.  Since 2003 scrapie has been decreased by 80% which means 1 in 2500 cull sheep.  (This isn't good, strong, healthy sheep, this is 1 out of 2500 weak, sickly sheep) Even if exposed it takes about 5 years for any symptoms to show in your animals.  It can't be transmitted to people.   
The government, in their zeal to eradicate this problem have come up with two programs.  First is the Scrapie Flock Certification Program.  It is a voluntary program in which an owner's flock/heard can be "Certified" as having a very low risk for scrapie after 5 years of participating in and meeting the requirements of the program.  In this program you identify all animals 12 months of age and older with official ear tags, tattoos, or electronic ID.  You buy the ear tags for a dollar each.  You keep required records on animals (including buyer/seller contact information); and allow annual inspection of the flock/herd and records (all animals must be accounted for)!  The benefit it you get certification of low risk after participating for five years. (It seems to me that all herds are very low risk for scrapie - but hey, what's a little government intrusion in exchange for a certificate?)
Animal Identification for the Movement of Sheep and Goats is a mandatory program that provides free official ear tags to owners to meet State and Federal movement requirements for goats and sheep.  This ID is required upon change of ownership, for the exhibition of animals at state and local fairs, and for the interstate movement of sheep and goats.  You are required to identify the animals with the ear tags, and keep written records on all animals moving interstate (and in California all animals leaving their premises and doing any moving within the state).  The government actually has the nerve to say that the benefit of this program to the producer is that you get FREE ID TAGS.  Wow.  Government intrusion into how many animals I have, who I sell them to, and who I bought them from - names, addresses, and phone numbers are required to be kept for five years.  Smile, you get the ear tags for free!  Makes me want to comply right away.


  1. Are you able to provide a link to this info for me? Are you sure it is Federal? I live in TX and NO ONE is doing this here. I have goats, a friend has both sheep and goats, I've never heard or been approached by county officials, even when I applied for my agricultural exemption. I knew about the NAIS they were trying to push through, but so far it hasn't been passed. I'd appreciate any information you can supply. I'll be doing research online as well. Thanks!

    These two links go over the rules. For more info about your state my booklet has the following names: Dr. Bob Hillman 512-719-0700 and Dr. Paul Ugstad 512-383-2400. Since they are state employees they could have retired or changed jobs but the phone numbers should still get you to the right person.