Susan Schoenian, University of Maryland Extension, Sheep and Goat Specialist
As part of efforts to eradicate scrapie, US sheep and goat producers are required to follow federal and state regulations for officially identifying their sheep and goats. Prior to October 1, 2017, the National Scrapie Eradication Program provided free plastic ear tags and applicators. As of October 1, the program will only provide free metal tags.Producers who already have premise IDs can call 1-888- USDA-TAG to get metal tags free of charge. Producers who don’t have a premise ID need to request one from their area APHIS office before ordering tags. Producers who don’t want to use the metal tags will need to purchase their own identification tags/devices from approved companies.
According to federal regulations, sheep under 18 months of age that move directly into slaughter channels do not need to be identified. Wethers under 18 months of age do not need to be identified. Low risk commercial goats, slaughter goats, and castrated goats do not need to be identified, according to the federal regulations. State regulations may be stricter than federal requirements and require additional animals to be identified.
Scrapie is a fatal, degenerative disease affecting the central nervous system of sheep and goats. There is no cure or treatment for scrapie. While the incidence of scrapie has been significantly reduced, the goal remains: to have the US eventually declared scrapie-free by international animal health organizations.