Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Another Ballad Twin by Llwygy X1

Somerhill Xtra
This guy will be for sale, too, either later this fall after I have a chance to evaluate him, or as a yearling - hopefully at the national show and sale in May. He will soon be codon tested, as will the rest of the X1 ram lambs.


Celtic Hare said...

What is 'codon testing'???

Somerhill said...

Sheep can have a fatal disease called "scrapie" that causes degeneration of the brain tissue. Its similar to "mad cow". There is a national plan all shepherds follow to erradicate it from the national flock. Every sheep sold has to have a flock ID tag, and brains are tested randomly at slaughter facilities. We are in the top level of this plan - the certification program. Since 1999 our flock has been monitored by USDA-APHIS for the disease, and we are now certified to be free of it. Research has found genes that show either a genetic susceptibility or resistance to the disease, and the Bluefaced Leicester association encourages testing rams to find what their genetic resistance potential is. All the rams we've had semen collected from and imported have been of the highest resistance. So a selling point for a flock is to have rams tested. In reality, scrapie has never been detected in a Bluefaced Leicester in the UK or the US - possibly because the breed has a high percentage of the resistant genetics.

Celtic Hare said...

Yikes! I had no idea! How many other sheep breeders are using the same screening program? Are there any known breeds that are more susceptible to this disease?

Somerhill said...

You can learn more about the certification program here. There are 50 flocks enrolled in Ohio.
We got in the program originally when we started doing AI from UK semen, because it was part of the requirements to import semen.
I've noticed that since the scrapie program became manditory - requiring all flocks that sell breeding stock or produce lambs that go into slaughter channels to have permanent ID tags so that any infected animals could be traced back, the certification program has fallen out of vogue. Even the USDA-APHIS vets don't really push it anymore. They've found it more cost effective to test sheep at slaughter facilities, and if something is found, they just trace it back to the original flock and any other flocks that might have been exposed, and work with the flock owners to find any other sheep that might be exposed or infected. Ohio had quite a few trace-backs in the first few years of the program, mostly in blackfaced flocks. That seemed to have cleaned up most of the problem, because there are fewer and fewer tracebacks each year.

Did you know that goats can also get it?

Water water

I seem to be drawn to water lately.  This is the Tuscarawas, one of 5 rivers in our county.  The others are the Walhonding, Mohican, Kokos...