What diseases do you test for in your flock?

OPP: We have a history of whole-flock testing negative for OPP, the last one was in winter 2015. Weare now in a monitoring status, where a percentage of the flock is tested each year; the last test was in Q1 2017. Incoming sheep are tested upon arrival, before being mixed with the flock. OPP is common everywhere in the U.S., is definitely in our area, and can have a devastating affect on flock productivity over time. Testing is expensive, but offers an insurance policy against a future crisis. Sure, you can pick up less expensive ewes from people who don’t test and just hope for the best. But you risk losing lambs, and ewes in the prime of their lives in years to come! Once you have it and it has spread throughout the flock, it’s a very emotionally painful, costly, and labor-intensive process to eliminate it.

CL: We had done some spot-testing in the past, and were all-negative; but then used the CL vaccine for several years. We eventually abandoned that practice, because the vaccine caused such irritating lesions. But, all the ewes that have been vaccinated have the potential to test positive for the bacteria. We will be embarking on a sampling program this year, to test all unvaccinated ewes and confirm clear status of the flock. Our flock has never had CL-like lesions externally, nor have they ever been observed on necropsy; and all sheep that die here are necropsied.

Johnes: We have only spot-checked for it historically and have never had a positive case, nor have we observed the symptoms in sheep here.

Scrapie: We are enrolled in the export-monitored program of the USDA Scrapie Flock Certification Program (SFCP) since 2009; and our current status date (due to bringing in new breeing stock) is August 2016. We mostly use RR rams, so most of the lambs born here will be QR or RR, and thus, resistant to classical scrapie.  Scrapie is on its way out in the U.S., with only a few source flocks still in existence. It hasn’t been found in Washington state in over a decade, and is also less common in whiteface breeds. Thus, we feel that focus on this disease is no longer warranted for Katahdin flocks in WA state. We do still test breeding rams for RR/QR/QQ status, so that buyers can make an informed decision.