You are here:

BSE: Other TSEs - National Scrapie Plan for Great Britain

The original aims of the National Scrapie Plan were to protect:

  • animal health by reducing and eventually eradicating scrapie and;
  • public health from the theoretical risk of BSE, if it was being masked by scrapie.

The NSP bred for resistance to classical scrapie by increasing the levels of genetic resistance to TSEs in the national flock. The most susceptible sheep were restricted from being used in flocks in NSP schemes whilst the most resistant sheep were used for breeding.

Following its launch in 2001, the vast majority of pure breeding sheep flocks  participated in NSP schemes which, along with other disease control measures, contributed to the dramatic reduction in classical scrapie in recent years. 

In December 2006, SEAC advised that the prevalence of BSE in sheep in the UK may be zero and in the worse case no more than 10 flocks would be affected. The public health driver for full Government funding for the voluntary NSP schemes was therefore no longer sustainable.

NSP Schemes

The NSP included several voluntary schemes, which have now closed, and the Compulsory Scrapie Flock Scheme is currently operating:

Voluntary Ram Genotyping Scheme (RGS)

This was the main NSP scheme, which ran between July 2001 and March 2009. It was a flock based breeding programme for purebred breeding flocks to increase classical scrapie resistance. The RGS closed on 31st March 2009.

Flock Register

This was also a voluntary scheme with an online register. It was designed to recognise whole flocks' scrapie resistant status on the basis of the composition of genotypes.  There was a low uptake in this scheme. It closed to new applicants on 30 September 2008.

Semen Archive

Between 2004-08 the Semen Archive collected semen from classical scrapie susceptible rams nominated for donation by flock owners and breed societies. It was an insurance policy against potentialrisks from losing genetics and traits from rams which could not be used in NSP flocks.. Ownership transferred to the National Sheep Association and the Rare Breeds Survival Trust in December 2008.

Compulsory Scrapie Flock Scheme (CSFS)

The EU introduced compulsory controls in infected flocks and herds in October 2003 (Regulation (EC) No.1915/2003).  The CSFS requires disease control action to be taken in flocks or herds that have had a confirmed case of classical or atypical scrapie. Disease control options in sheep flocks in which classical scrapie is confirmed, include (i) flock genotyping followed by selective killing of sheep with susceptible genotypes or exceptionally (ii) whole flock killing. For goats the only option is whole herd killing. In flocks or herds in which atypically scrapie is confirmed, there is an option of monitoring, rather than killing. In all cases, there is a two year period of TSE testing with negative results before a flock or herd is free of movement restrictions.

Page last reviewed: 7 June, 2010
Page last modified: 7 June, 2010