Source: AgriLife Today
A switch from plastic to metal ear tags could spell trouble for sheep shearers and the animals they shear if the tags are incorrectly applied, said a shearing expert.
Dr. Reid Redden, state sheep and goat specialist at San Angelo, said the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Animal Plant Health Inspection Service recently quit providing free plastic scrapie program ear tags to the sheep and goat community as a cost-saving measure. They are, however, still offering the less expensive metal tags free to producers.
Scrapie is a prion disease of the central nervous system in sheep. Scrapie tags are used to trace the disease in sheep and goats to their point of origin anywhere in the U.S. While the metal tags are free, plastic tags still can be purchased from approved suppliers.
“This program has done a great job of cleaning up scrapie, and we are on the verge of eradicating scrapie in the United States due to USDA-APHIS’s work, so we applaud them for that,” Redden said.
“However, if ranchers switch from using a plastic tag to a metal tag, they do need to pay some attention to where that tag is placed, because metal tags inadvertently hit by sheep shearers while they are shearing do pose a risk,” he said.
For more information, contact Redden at 325-653-4576, Reid.Redden@ag.tamu.edu.
Through the application of science-based knowledge, AgriLife Extension creates high-quality, relevant continuing education that encourages lasting and effective change.
Learn more about Opportunities to Support Extension.