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February Sheep Update

Livestock Update, February 1997

Steve Umberger, Animal & Poultry Sciences

FDA Publishes Ruminant to Ruminant Feed Ban. The Food and Drug Administration published in the January 2, 1997 Federal Register a proposed rule that would classify animal proteins derived from ruminant and mink tissues as not "generally recognized as safe" for use in ruminant feed. The proposed regulation would establish a system of controls primarily at the rendering and feed manufacturing levels designed to ensure that ruminant feed does not contain animal protein derived from ruminant or mink tissues. The primary purpose of this rule is to prevent Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) from ever becoming established in the United States. Scrapie, a fatal neurological disorder of sheep, is in the same family of diseases as BSE. National associations supporting this proposal include the American Sheep Industry Association and the National Cattlemen's Beef Association. The spread of BSE throughout the United Kingdom is believed to have occurred through the feeding of rendered ruminant tissue to cattle. To date, there has never been a case of BSE confirmed in the U.S. The FDA proposal undergoes a 45-day comment period, after which time the agency analyzes the comments and issues a final rule.

Call for Sheep Shearers. An effort to develop an exhaustive list of people who are available to shear sheep in Virginia is currently underway. Custom sheep shearers or sheep producers who know of custom shearers are asked to send the name of the shearer, address and telephone number to Steve Umberger, Department of Animal and Poultry Sciences, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061-0306, or call (540) 231-5253. This information is needed by no later than March 15, 1997. Once completed, this list will be made available through Virginia Cooperative Extension Offices.

Beginners' Shearing School. A shearing school for beginning shearers will be held at the Southwest Virginia Research and Extension Center at Glade Spring, VA on April 29-30. The school is designed to teach beginning shearers correct shearing technique as well as the proper care and maintenance of shearing equipment. On the first evening of the school, an informal session on sheep management and marketing will also be held for participants. The only charge for the school is a non-refundable $20 pre-registration fee. The pre-registration deadline is March 31, 1997. A maximum of 20 participants will be accepted. For a copy of the pre-registration form, call (540) 231-5253, or contact your local Virginia Cooperative Extension Office.

1997 Virginia Ram Lamb Performance Test. Nominations are due by March 15 for the 1997 Virginia Ram Lamb Performance Test. To enter rams on test the following requirements must be met: 1) consignors must be members of the Virginia Sheep Producers Association; 2) rams must be accompanied by health papers indicating that the flock of origin was inspected and free of contagious disease, or come from a Virginia Health Certified Flock; 3) ram lambs may be purebred or crossbred as long as registration papers are furnished on both the dam and sire sides of the pedigree; 4) rams must be born between September 1, 1996 and February 15, 1997. For a complete copy of the rules and regulations and nomination form, write or call Steve Umberger, Department of Animal & Poultry Sciences, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061-0306, (540) 231-9159.

1997 Virginia Sheep Producers Association Activities. Shown below is a brief description and list of activities sponsored or endorsed by the Virginia Sheep Producers Association in 1997.

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