Approximately 8,600 purebred sheep from across Canada have been genotype tested through the National Genotyping Survey- an initiative developed by government and industry and administered by Scrapie Canada. Launched in June 2005, the survey is open to all Canadian purebred producers with registered sheep. Although the program was slated to run for one year, extension requests have made it possible for the survey to continue for three and a half years.
The last extension request permitted the program to run until December 16, 2008- the final day producers can complete genotype testing through the survey. After December 16, a rebate will no longer be offered to Canadian producers interested in genotyping their purebred sheep. Any producer who is interested in genotyping their flock- or even just one of their animals- should do before the December 16th deadline.
If there are any producers still uncertain about what the National Genotyping Survey has to offer, or why it is important, the following information may apply.
The National Genotyping Survey has been important for both producers and the industry for many different reasons.
For producers, the financial reimbursement offered by the program has made genotype testing purebred sheep more affordable. The normal cost to genotype test one sheep is about $30 (depending on the lab). Producers testing through the program only pay $10 per head. Secondly, money is also reimbursed to the producer for the cost of the vet visit (to draw the samples) and shipping the samples to the lab. Through the program, producers receive $6.00/ head (up to 70%) for the vet visit as well as half of the shipping fees.
Genotyping also benefits producers by providing valuable genetic information. All samples tested through the program are entered into the national database, where producers can go online and view their individual test results at http://web3.nsac.ca/eng/research/gen/public/index1.html. Using their test results, producers can establish breeding programs back on the farm, which can eventually breed for scrapie resistance. Through the survey, producers also gain access to the GeneNovaS Market Place- an online listing of genotyped animals for sale.
When it comes to the Canadian sheep industry, the National Genotyping Survey has been valuable as well. Unique to Canada, the program has gathered a knowledge base for increasing resistance of Canadian flocks to scrapie. And because the Canadian project includes ewe testing, it is one of the most advanced in the world.
By genotyping, Canadian producers can pro-actively work towards increasing the resistance of the national flock to scrapie. Extensive testing makes it possible to decrease the negative impacts of this disease, including: financial loss to producers; high-cost government programs; and animal welfare concerns for producers forced to de-populate their flocks/ herds.
Genotyping the national flock also allows Canada to be at par with countries throughout the world that also have genotyping programs in place. For example, as part of their scrapie eradication plans, both the US and Europe have developed and implemented well-established genotyping programs.
For more information on Canada’s National Genotyping Survey, please call Scrapie Canada at 1-866-534-1302 before December 16, 2008.