Providing practical information to help you protect your farm from biosecurity risks

Incentive doubled for sheep brain tests

February 7, 2014

Shorn sheepKeeping a close eye on your sheep flocks for any sign of the disease scrapie is not only good on-farm biosecurity practice, but could earn you money at the same time.

Thanks to funding from WoolProducers Australia and the Sheepmeat Council of Australia, the incentive payment for producers submitting sheep brains for scrapie testing has doubled to $100.

Animal Health Australia’s Biosecurity Officer, Dr Rob Barwell, said sheep producers can play an important role in ensuring market access for Australia’s livestock.

“The incentive is part of the National Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies Surveillance Program (NTSESP) managed by Animal Health Australia (AHA). The NTSESP enables Australia to prove to our trading partners and the World Organisation for Animal Health that Australia is free from transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, including scrapie in sheep.

“The Bucks for Brains program plays an important role in the collection of samples to test for the NTSESP. The increase in the incentive payment is designed to ensure that we continue to receive our quota of animals for testing and retain our scrapie free status,” said Dr Barwell.

Eligible sheep must be examined by a veterinarian or government animal health officer and display scrapie-like signs. Scrapie is a degenerative disease that affects the nervous system of sheep and goats. Clinical signs can include behavioural changes, scratching or wool loss, stumbling and difficulty in walking. Sheep displaying these signs must be at least 18 months old and preferably under five years of age.

If you see any signs of the disease, contact your local vet or state/territory government animal health officer. For further information about the NTSESP or more information about the diseases visit the AHA website.