Rare sheep are now on death row

From Alyshah Hasham in the Toronto Star.

Photo via the Toronto Star.

“Montana Jones loves her Shropshire sheep.

She raises the rare heritage breed at no profit in a bid to protect the bloodlines tracing back to some of the first sheep on Canadian shores.

But the fluffy romance of 12 years has become a nightmare, with more than half of her flock of 75 slated for the chopping block for no reason, says the farmer.

Her Wholearth Farm in Hastings, near Peterborough, was put under quarantine and listed as a possible source of infection after a ewe she sold to an Alberta farmer five years ago was diagnosed with scrapie.

Every sheep in her flock tested negative to a live tissue test for the disease, which affects the central nervous system of goats and sheep and has no cure. It’s considered a “reportable disease” by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and any animal infected or suspected of being infected is destroyed.

Since the new live tissue test is only about 85 per cent accurate, the CFIA determined the sheep were still potentially infected and are following their procedure to do a conclusive brain tissue test, she said.

“It’s absolutely ludicrous that they’re doing this,” said Dr. Tom Hutchinson, a professor at Trent University and former chair of Rare Breeds Canada. “They’re getting rid of one of the seriously important sheep that could make a comeback,” he said

The 44 sheep targeted are the ones most genetically susceptible to scrapie, and make up a large portion of Jones’ breeding stock, including five rams. There are only about 132 Shropshire breeding ewes and 21 rams in Canada, said Jones.

The CFIA cannot comment on specific cases but “when rare breeds are concerned, there may be other options available to the producer that may allow for delayed destruction of susceptible animals so as to allow preservation of rare breed genetics,” said CFIA spokesperson Guy Gravelle….”

Read it all in the Toronto Star.

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Mad Sheep


Filed under News

7 responses to “Rare sheep are now on death row

  1. This is going on in all aspects of life. Not only in the area of food.
    Get involved. Educate yourself. And be part of the solution.


    I think you can see where this is all going if you say nothing.

  2. thebovine

    Now with 3 more related links added. Thanks to one of our readers.

  3. Your sidebar quote is perfect. “”A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves.” — Edward R. Murrow”

    Thank-you so much for posting the Star article on my Wholearth Shropshire sheep flock…the response is overwhelming and will be fighting this till the CFIA and Ag Canada is turned around. They tell me it hasn’t been done before, that it’s ‘protocol’ …one flock of 400 sheep were destroyed by CFIA, then tested. Guess how many tested positive for scrapie? Zero. Ditto to the 700 in Ontario two years ago, all over the country this is happening, and afterwards the shepherd/farmer gets a dead sheep and an “Oops, sorry…guess we were wrong.” I won’t let that happen with these lambs. Please add this link if you would, all about the case, and a petition button there too if you’d like to sign. So let us not be sheep, let’s Save Our Shrops.


    and my farm site Wholearth Farmstudio is http://wholearth.com


    • Don’t understand what you mean when you say it has NOT been done before, then you cite 2 examples of where it has been done before. Please clarify.

      • Sorry Karen..I meant no one has successfully challenged CFIA’s current, outdated protocol before..and some sheep flocks in Canada are still being killed for testing then turning up 100% negative test results for scrapie.
        Its bad enough when they are commercial flocks but even worse when rare heritage animals whose genetics are irreplaceable.

  4. p.s. I wrote a history on the Shropshires at http://montanajones.com

  5. Confused

    It would appear that there might be more to the story – http://agro.biodiver.se/2011/12/how-endangered-are-shropshire-sheep/comment-page-1/#comment-1038109. Perhaps Montana will comment.

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