Flock masters wishing to export breeding sheep and goats throughout the EU may have their flock or herd monitored under the provisions of the Scrapie Monitoring Scheme administered by SRUC Veterinary Services. This may also be required for export to Northern Ireland from 2021 if no trade deal is reached. Registered flocks and herds undergo an annual flock inspection by the official vet and brains from all adult fallen stock should be screened for TSEs. Please see the scheme rules for further details.

What is scrapie?

Scrapie is an infectious wasting disease affecting the nervous system of adult sheep and is very difficult to control. It has been a notifiable disease in the UK since 1993 and is one of the transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs). The causal agent is resistant to normal disinfection procedures and the disease has a long incubation period. There is no cure, no vaccine, the condition is fatal and animals pass on their genetic susceptibility to the next generation.

Carcass testing

Carcases or heads from fallen stock can be submitted for testing to:


SRUC Veterinary Services

Scrapie genotyping

Scrapie gene testing enables flock masters to select breeding sheep which are resistant to Scrapie. Animals can be tested at any age using a blood or semen sample. Testing is usually limited to stud rams, ram lambs retained for breeding and ewes being selected for embryo transfer. Scrapie genotyping is not a test for the presence of the disease but does reveal if the animal were to be exposed to the disease, what chance it has of contracting it.

Scrapie Genotyping can also be used to allow the export of resistant animals or allow them to join Scrapie Monitored flocks. Genotyping performed for these purposes must be undertaken at a Defra approved laboratory and samples taken by a veterinary surgeon. The current Defra approved laboratories are APHA and SRUC.


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