What's New?

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.

October 2007 Scrapie Canada Update

Information on the National Genotyping Survey

The National Genotyping Survey has been running since July 2005 and to date has collected 6,127 samples. In light of the fact that the project’s original aim was to collect 35,000 samples; the current collection has not lived up to expectations. This is good news and bad news. The bad news first- it means fewer samples will be added to the national database, producing a smaller sample to perform important research on. The good news- it means there is still time and money available for producers who wish to genotype their purebred sheep at a rebated price. It has been hypothesized that the slow uptake on the National Genotyping Survey may be accounted for by a lack of knowledge on what the project is, and what it actually means to genotype test your sheep. In response to this suggestion, the following article attempts to put the ins and outs of the National Genotyping Survey in the simplest of terms.

What is it?

The National Genotyping Survey is a government funded project which allows producers to genotype test their sheep at a subsidized price. The project will be run until March 31, 2008. All producers of purebred sheep registered with the Canadian Sheep Breeders Association, the Canadian Katahdin Sheep Association, and the Canadian Finnsheep Breeders Association can participate. Producers can genotype test any registered purebred sheep or any unregistered offspring of two registered purebred parents.

How is it done?

A blood or DNA sample must be taken from each sheep and sent to a designated lab. If taking blood samples, producers must make an appointment with their vet, who will come to the farm to draw the blood. A DNA sample can be used to test as well. By injecting a special ear tag into the sheep, a DNA sample is collected into a small vile, which is then sent to the chosen lab. A vet is not required to collect the DNA sample; however, producers must order both the tags and the tagger from Saskatchewan Sheep Development Board (306-933-5582).

Genotype Testing

Once at the lab, the blood or the DNA sample is genotype tested, which means….. Results are then sent out to both the producer and to Scrapie Canada. Scrapie Canada keeps a copy of all test results and then forwards this information onto the Nova Scotia Agricultural College (NSAC), where it is input into the National Database. As part of the program, results are uploaded to the GeneNovaS website (www.genenovas.ca), where producers can go online and view their individual results. The lab technicians at NSAC will also work with producers to answer any genetically based questions, as well as develop breeding programs that can potentially build scrapie resistant flocks.

The Cost

The cost of the genotype testing is subsidized through a grant provided by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. The full price of the test is usually about $35/sheep depending on the lab, however, through the National Genotyping Survey, producers pay $10 (plus provincial taxes) per sample. Producers can also obtain a reimbursement for the cost of the vet call, receiving $6/sample up to 70% of the total cost. Half of the cost to ship the samples to the lab is also covered by the program. To receive this reimbursement, producers are required to submit a copy of their vet invoice to Scrapie Canada.

As the long hours of the summer days are now behind us, and the fall is quickly coming and going, it is a good time to consider various options for your farming operation. Knowing the level of scrapie resistance on your farm can be used as both a marketing tool and a flock management tool. Genotype testing adds market value to your breeding stock, with many producers now inquiring about the DNA make up of sheep, and in many cases, paying more for an animal that has already been tested. Genotyping also provides producers with valuable information, which can be used to develop healthy breeding programs, which can plan for a scrapie resistant productive flock.

For more information on the National Genotyping Survey, please contact Scrapie Canada at 1-866-534-1302 or by e-mail at admin@scrapiecanada.ca.

Two Sheep

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