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If you have any questions, ideas or additions for the Scrapie program up to now or for the coming future please contact the Scrapie program co—ordinator. The Scrapie committee meets annually or upon any specific requests.

August 2005 Scrapie Canada Update

What is SFCP?

The SFCP National Standards were developed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), in collaboration with the sheep industry, as the basis for Canada’s on-farm, voluntary scrapie control program. It is intended to be a long-term, internationally recognized flock/herd scrapie control program for the sheep and goat industries. This program is unique as a CFIA approved disease control strategy. The CFIA only provides a guiding hand in ensuring that the program retains key requirements to meet international standards. The day-to-day management and verification is placed in the hands of industry. If shown to be effective, the SFCP may be used as a template for other industry-led TSE control programs.

How does the SFCP work?

Given the nature of scrapie (see ‘What is scrapie?’), infection in a flock/herd may go undetected for many years. As well, with no reliable live animal test for detecting the disease in individual animals, one-time testing and eradication not possible. Working with these restrictions, the SFCP is designed to gradually assess whether flocks/herds are currently infected and to minimize the risk of contracting scrapie in the future. Flocks/herds advance through the various levels of the program as the risk of scrapie infection decreases. Producers have the option of following one of three pathways under the program. In Pathway 1, the assessment of risk (level the flock/herd has achieved on the program) is determined by the number of years that the producer has followed program requirements and scrapie has not been detected. In this pathway, flocks/herds advance one level (E, D, C, B, A, certified) for every year that the requirements are met. In Pathways 2 & 3, other technologies, such as genotyping for resistance to scrapie, are used in combination with disease surveillance to reach certification in a fewer number of years.

Requirements for all pathways include:

  • Surveillance for the disease is made by submitting brain samples from all adult sheep and goats that die on-farm. If no animals die on farm during a 12-month period, a sample from at least one cull animal over 24 months must be submitted.
  • Producers must work with a veterinarian accredited with CFIA to deliver the SFCP.
  • Producers must make an annual, vet supervised inventory their flocks/herds and maintain documentation throughout the year on animals entering and leaving the premises.
  • The flock/herd must be closed to additions of female animals, except from flocks/herds on the same or higher program level. The source of rams, bucks and/or semen is not as restricted, although some conditions do apply in Pathways 2 & 3.

Why conduct a pilot project?

There are many reasons for controlling scrapie in the sheep and goat industries, including improved animal welfare, marketing advantages for individual producers, and strengthening the overall image of the industries. However, if the costs of the program greatly outweigh the benefits for individual producers, there will be little uptake of this voluntary program. Therefore, the primary goal of the pilot project is to generate information by testing the program on 60 sheep flocks and 10 goat herds from across the country. Producers can then apply a cost/benefit analysis of using the SFCP for managing the risk of scrapie on their own farms. In addition to determining program costs, the pilot project will test the on-farm practicality of the National Standards as developed by CFIA. Standards will be reviewed annually (or as needed) with CFIA and a producer committee to ensure the program is as user friendly as possible while retaining CFIA approval.

Why join the SFCP pilot project?

  • The SFCP is recognized by the USDA and certification with the program may be required in the future for exporting breeding stock.
  • Participating producers are eligible to continue on the certification program at the same level that they have attained during the pilot project. As the minimum time to reach certification following Pathway 1 is five years, this may provide a significant advantage to producers wishing to become certified.
  • This is a five-year project, with funding provided between 2005 and 2010. Some costs incurred by producers participating in the pilot will be covered by project funding:
    • The project will cover cost of brain sample analysis.
    • Producers will be reimbursed $50/year for a minimum of the first two years on the project for vet bills incurred through inventory and obex (brain tissue) removal.
  • Producers participating in this project will provide an important step in moving us toward a TSE-free industry.
Two Sheep

Scrapie Information & Facts



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PHONE: (403) 292-4301
Fax: (403) 292-5707


Project Partners

The National Genotyping Survey

What is the National Genotyping Survey?

Variations at three regions of the sheep prion gene (codons 136, 154, 171) are associated with how easily sheep exposed to scrapie will become infected. By genotype testing, it is possible to determine which animals are genetically resistant to scrapie and will pass that resistance on to their lambs. Through this project, sheep breeders are offered the opportunity to genotype registered sheep at a discounted rate. Targeting purebred animals will hopefully lead to an eventual increase in scrapie resistance of the entire national flock.

Although genotyping is used in scrapie control programs in many countries, this project is currently the most extensive testing program in the world. Because the Canadian project includes ewes as well as rams, producers are better able to use the information to develop breeding programs that consider quality and performance first and then look at scrapie resistance among those top performing animals. There is no requirement for producers testing with this project to cull animals of a particular genotype. It is important to note that animals with susceptible genotypes do not have scrapie; only a greater potential of contracting the disease if they are exposed. The desired outcome of the project is to maintain flock productivity while increasing the scrapie resistance of the flock. This may include selective mating of highly productive animals with a genetic susceptibility to contracting scrapie with those of a more resistant genotype (Please see the accompanying article ‘Tips for using genotype information to breed for scrapie resistance in sheep’).

The National Survey of Scrapie Genetics at a Glance:

  • Samples will be accepted between June 2005 and November 2006, with funding available for 36,000 head.
  • Discounted rate ($10/sample) for lab analysis of three codons of the sheep prion gene (codons 136, 154, 171)
  • All sheep tested must be registered with the Canadian Livestock Records Corporation.
  • Producers must use a veterinarian for collecting the blood samples
  • Part of the vet visit (75% up to $6/sample) and shipping cost (50%) will be reimbursed, provided producers send in vet invoice within 90 days of sampling.
  • Results will be forwarded to a national database, which already includes data from the Nova Scotia and British Columbia provincial genotyping projects. The database will be expanded to link Canadian Livestock Records Corporation records with the new genotyping data. Information on individual flocks will be password protected and accessible only by the flock owner. However, project summaries and a forum for posting tested animals that are for sale will be open to all producers.
  • In order to include as much information as possible in the database, producers genotyping registered animals between June 2003 and June 2005 are eligible to receive $5/animal when they submit official lab reports of genotype results. The analysis must have been paid for completely by producers and not funded through various provincial projects.
  • This project is intended to provide producers with information to make breeding decisions for their own flocks and is not part of the certification program.

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