Shropshire sheep killed, were found not diseased by CFIA; Houdini sheep in the National Post; as more young Italians are now choosing to become shepherds

No other story in the nearly three year history of the Bovine blog has generated the kind of ongoing heated debate that we’ve seen around the Montana Jones Shropshire sheep saga. Here is the latest:

The sheep in this photo is one of the 9 that tested negative, Camirro 36J, who is the 13-year mother of the sheep that CFIA claims tested positive for scrapie. Scrapie is typically passed on via birthing fluids to offspring from infected mothers. Photo by Montana Jones.

**CFIA Sheep/Scrapie NEWS UPDATE ** ALL 9 killed are negative for scrapie.

May 3: Hastings, ON— CFIA seized and killed 9 pregnant Shropshire sheep on Saturday to determine their health status, as CFIA suspected the animals were infected with scrapie. The CFIA Ottawa lab test results now indicate they have all tested NEGATIVE for scrapie.

The group included the dam of the animal that CFIA claims tested positive for scrapie, despite the fact she showed no symptoms of the disease. The mother, who was due to have more lambs next week, is pictured here just prior to CFIA loading and killing the sheep on Saturday. She was 13 years old, which is unusual longevity for a sheep, which generally live to 6 or 7 years of age.   

CFIA repots that scrapie is most often passed on in birthing fluids, however this dam of the alleged positive was healthy and robust, and tested negative. Owner Montana Jones said, ” I’ve again requested DNA and obex tissue samples from CFIA, so a third party lab can re-test to determine if there was an ‘error’ in their alleged positive, as all other findings still indicate there is no scrapie in my flock…or what’s left of them.”

And now from Adrian Humphreys in the National Post:

“Hide & go sheep: Woolly Houdini raises questions about how agency fights livestock disease

Houdini, a year-old ram bleating and blinking indifferently on an Ontario farm, stands as testament to the skepticism his impassioned shepherd has for the government agency that says her flock is contaminated with a deadly neurological disease.

The lamb, named after the legendary escape artist, is supposed to be dead; his head severed and brain sliced to allow a government laboratory to test for scrapie, a degenerative disease in sheep similar to mad cow disease in cattle.

Instead, Houdini — with his black nose and shaggy wool, his left ear still pierced with the yellow tag from the day he was marked for destruction — remains at the farm of Linda “Montana” Jones, 170 kilometres east of Toronto.

When agents with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency came last month to monitor the killing of 12 quarantined sheep in an ongoing scrapie scare, the animals were caught, tagged and loaded into a truck for the trip to a slaughterhouse, she said….”

Read more in the National Post.

And from Nick Squires in Rome, writing for the UK Telegraph:

Young Italians flock to become shepherds

As Italy’s unemployment rate topped 10pc this week, it emerged that young people are flocking to become shepherds.

Traditionally the preserve of older men, the profession has recently attracted 3,000 young Italians, according to agricultural body Coldiretti.

They are choosing a simple life in the great outdoors because their aspirations to become doctors, lawyers or engineers have been thwarted by Italy’s negligible economic growth, which has been compounded by grinding austerity measures.

Davide Bortoluzzi, 25, has a degree in surveying from a technical institute but, unable to find a job, now keeps a watchful eye on a flock of 400 sheep in the Dolomites of northern Italy….”

Read more in the Telegraph.

10 Comments

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10 responses to “Shropshire sheep killed, were found not diseased by CFIA; Houdini sheep in the National Post; as more young Italians are now choosing to become shepherds

  1. Beverley Viljakainen

    The ignorance and arrogance of officialdom whose agents are ‘just doing their job’ will continue unabated as long as we human beings at large do not appreciate the mystery that is Life expressed in people, animals and all other life forms. We are the only ones who have got it wrong and the only ones who can correct our misunderstandings about disease and its cause. May we get on with it apace!

  2. Patric Lyster

    Ms. Jones, what about the positive scrapie ewe WHE 24S? She was born on your farm and tested positive. INterestingly, if you look at the most common means of scrapie (classical) transmission, it is through birth fluids, colostrum and some science says milk. So it is possible for a lamb (the younger the sheep the higher the susceptibility) to contract scrapie from a ewe that is not it’s mother. Lambs can lick at things, which might be contaminated with birth fluids. lambs can suck on ewes, other than their own dam (robbing or if they are grafted), so it is possible and it does happen (science has proven it).
    But it is interesting to note, the ewe Cramirro 36J is a sheep that Ms. Jones said and I quote ” As for the handful of non ARQ sheep they left…they are not the best heritage genetics. Which says a lot for needing to preserve that genotype. I can’t use them, i don t want them,”. Cramirro 36J is one of the sheep she was referring to. I think that perhaps i now know why she didn’t want her daughter Lava, but not sure why she would say that Cramirro 36J was not usable and not wanted, and then go on to brag about how old she was and that she is beautiful. Which is it, unusable, unwanted or a sheep to brag abot? If unusable, why keep her until she is 13, as an unusable sheep shouldn’t even be able to produce a markeatbae lamb, otherwise the sheep is still usabe.
    As to the lamb, well he is still there, but some of the lambs shipped for slaughter weren’t even on CFIA’s list so why did they get sent? Because Ms. Jones wanted to send them, and she was planning on selling the meat, which is just evidence to show that she could sell sheep while she was under quarantine, another contradiction to what she said. It has, for sometime, been the CFIA policy to allow lambs to go for slaughter and the meat old, or the lambs sold to anyone who sends them directly to slaughter. Also to note, if those were under 12 months, as to CFIA policy, then it would be highly unlikely to find a positive at that age and you can get a nuber of false positives.

  3. BC Food Security

    Who was it who said ” Tell a lie long enough , forcefully enough and repetitively enough and the sheeple will start to believe it ? “

    • Patric Lyster

      Who are you referring to in this quote? The facts are the facrts, and just because they do not fit ones beliefs or agenda, it doesn’t make them a lie. There are 2 sides to this story and a lot of detours. It is also being made as a fight against the government power, but the basis of the arguments lack a little substance, in my opinion. There is no differentiation based on farm size, there is nothing in the scrapie protocol about hormone treatmeat or grazing, and there is already a provision to preserve rare genetics. In my opinion, this fight against the government has reason, but not in regards to the scrapie protocol, which is what is being enforced, in this case. I know that you can work with CFIA to make changes and it can be done reasonably quickly. My farm was put into quarantine in January 2010, the order for destruction of a number of sheep was made soon after. Soe were destroyed, but due to the rarity of some genetics, they allowed me to keep some alive until higher ups in CFIA and the agriculture minister had time to review my proposal, and in May it was already in place to do the pilot project for 1 year. CFIA and the scrapie policy are not set in stone, and if producers can show them actual scientific reason to do things differently, it can be looked at and changes made. A 2 year pilot project, should give most producers the opportunity to research things and come up with actual, factual evidence (not this it coud possibly mean stuff) to perhaps get changes to the protocol or pilot project. Things such as doing annual live tests or such, could perhaps have been done and if all continued to be negative, all the genetics may have been saved.

  4. Awake

    Can’t say anything here without running the Patric Lyster gauntlet. I don’t know the first thing about sheeps and scrapie, but I do know that I am sick and tired of the governanny and governanny worshippers.

    Dear God, protect me from the protectors!

    • Lorri Nelson

      You know nothing about sheep or scrapie, but you wade in on the controversy anyway. Remember, the anti-government thing is your fight. It isn’t ours. We are sheep farmers, this affects us directly. As it does every other sheep producer in this country.

  5. Clearly you know not of what ye post. Ammending the scrapie protocol for an alternative risk control method is precisely what I and many others have been fighting for from Day One. You suggest “to perhaps get changes to the protocol or pilot project. Things such as doing annual live tests or such, could perhaps have been done and if all continued to be negative, all the genetics may have been saved.”
    Seriously? Did you miss the first class?

    • Lorri Nelson

      Really, Montana? Are you trying that again!? You weren’t fighting for changes, changes have been made. You were fighting for “My way or the highway.”

    • Patric Lyster

      Ms. Jones, I think yoou had best learn to only post the facts. Your comments and innuendo will get you into more trouble than you wish. I do know of what I am talking. I have gone through dealing with scrapie. I did get changes to the protocol in the form of the pilot project. Use sciecne and fact, and you can work with them to get changes. Using things like this may possibly result in that, doesn’t work, you need facts and present them in a proper manner, make a proposal.
      In my opinion, you are the one who missed the first class. If you had taken the pilot project, you would have been keeping the ewes alive for 2 years (in which time you could have explored other live tests and perhaps even a better live test will come along) and if you had looked at science (rams do not transmit scrapie), you woud have had a sound science/fact based argument to keep your rams alive. So what part of that do you not understand? I said perhaps all the genetics could have been saved. But due to your way of dealing with it, the genetics that you value so highly are going to be what? If found, they will get destroyed, if not the genetics are lost anyhow, as there is no way that they will be eligible for registration without a whole lot of DNA work, if you could even register them. Or are you planning on registering them as something else?

  6. As Joel Salatin says in Food Inc. “A culture that just uses a pig as a pile of protoplasmic inanimate structure, to be manipulated by whatever creative design the human can foist on that critter, will probably view individuals within its community, and other cultures in the community of nations, with the same type of disdain and disrespect and controlling type mentalities.”

    Just substitute another farm animal for pig.

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