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April 21, 2021 30 min

If you ever wanted to sell your goats or sheep to someone in another country, then you are already familiar with the US's problem with scrapie. It's not a huge problem, but having anything more than zero cases for seven years means that most countries will not allow our sheep and goats to be imported into their country.

In this episode, I am talking to Charles Gaiser, DVM, MPH, DACVPM, who is a sheep and goat epidemiologist with the USDA, APHIS (Animal Plant Health Inspection Service), VS (Veterinary Services), RHC (Ruminant Health Center), Small Ruminant Health Team, and we are talking about scrapie, which is a spongiform encephalopathy similar to "mad cow disease" but in goats and sheep. 

Because we have animals in the US with this disease, breeders can only sell goats and sheep to other countries if they have a herd or flock that is certified scrapie free, which takes seven years of testing and surveillance. 

Every time I get an inquiry from someone in another country who wants to buy my goats, I have to say no because my flock is not certified free of scrapie. I've thought about enrolling, but then I just keep hoping that the US can go seven years without any cases. I got really excited in 2019 when I heard that we had gone three years with no positive cases of scrapie! But then there was another one, so that resets the national clock back to zero. 

In this episode, we are talking about the disease, the symptoms, testing, and what you can do to get your herd certified free of scrapie and sell goats internationally. 

For more information

  • Main USDA Sheep and Goat Webpage:
  • USDA APHIS | Sheep and Goat Health

  • National Scrapie Eradication Program (NSEP) Webpage:
  • USDA APHIS | National Scrapie Eradication Program

  • NSEP Standards:
  • Microsoft Word - nsep_program_standards 2019 final.doc (

  • Designated scrapie epidemiologists in each state for questions on scrapie:
  • Official Designated Scrapie Epidemiologists and Local Points of Contact List (

  • To request official sheep and goat tags, a flock or premises ID or both, call 1-866-USDA-Tag (866-873-2824).  Free tags can be provided if producer has not received free tags in the past 5 years or as an incentive for providing scrapie surveillance samples from their animals.

  • SFCP Webpage:
  • USDA APHIS | Free Flock Certification Program

  • SFCP Standards:
  • standards_current.pdf (

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