Scrapie Plan Extended; SHEEP: Minister Wants Greater Take-Up of Chance to Improve the Welsh Flock

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CHANGES to the rules affecting some types of sheep covered by the National Scrapie Plan have been announced by the National Assembly.

The rules are intended to recognise the practicalities of improving the genetic resistance of the Welsh flock while maintaining momentum on the plan.

The National Scrapie Plan is a voluntary, long-term programme of breeding for genetic resistance. It encourages participating flock owners to breed from and use scrapie-resistant sheep.

The proposals now being issued would extend the 2004 deadline for two years and the 2007 deadline for a year for mainly hill breeds starting with a less-resistant genetic profile.

This will enable such breeds to increase their resistance to BSE and scrapie as fast as they reasonably can while retaining other important genetic characteristics.

Rural Development Minister Mike German said, ``The NSP for Great Britain was launched in July 2001. Since then 746 Welsh flocks have been genotyped and over 1,000 farmers in Wales have contracted in as members of the scheme. In parallel, the Welsh Assembly Government funded the unique and successful Welsh ewe genotyping scheme, which genotyped a further 25,000 ewes in Wales.''

Mr German praised those farmers who had already taken part in the plan or were planning to do so but added, ``The numbers are still too low and the Assembly government continues to work on measures to make the scheme more attractive and worthwhile to the sheep sector in Wales. …