What is SheepMAP?
SheepMAP was developed in 1997 in response to calls from industry for a flock classification scheme to assure sheep breeders and their clients that participating flocks have been objectively assessed as being at low risk of being infected with OJD. Having a SheepMAP status does not guarantee that a flock does not have OJD, but the higher the status of a flock, the greater the probability that it is not infected.
The SheepMAP process
Accreditation in the SheepMAP program involves the producer and a SheepMAP accredited veterinarian of the producer’s choice carrying out an assessment of the flock’s history, management and biosecurity arrangements. The assessment includes all susceptible species on the property (sheep, goats and deer). The veterinarian and the producer work through a series of management and biosecurity requirements that need to be met. These requirements might include:
- protocols to ensure all staff are aware of the requirements of the SheepMAP
- identification of all sheep
- agreement with neighbours on how to manage strays
- procedures for biosecurity at shows and sales
- keeping records of all movements onto and off the property
- ongoing audits, with correction of any procedures that breach requirements
- maintaining a schedule of testing.
If these are all met, then a signed agreement is entered into and a flock test (pooled faecal culture) carried out. Three hundred and fifty representative adult sheep are tested. For small flocks with fewer than 350 adults, all sheep over the age of two years are tested. This test gives a high level of confidence that if OJD was present in the flock, it would be detected. A negative test result means the flock can enter the program as Monitored Negative 1(MN1). Flocks in the SheepMAP can progress to MN2 and MN3 status by carrying out further flock tests at intervals of at least two years. Each successive negative test provides more assurance that the flock is free of OJD.
SheepMAP and vaccination
Producers with SheepMAP flocks can vaccinate for OJD with a registered vaccine. Vaccination can be used to maintain, but not progress, status in the SheepMAP program. If vaccination is used in a SheepMAP flock, all sheep must be approved vaccinates i.e. lambs vaccinated before 16 weeks of age. They must be identified with a National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) approved tag with the registered brand or property identification code (PIC) and a V stamped in a circle. Records must be kept of all vaccinations.
Flocks that vaccinate in addition to complying with SheepMAP biosecurity protocols will be assigned the status of MN1-V, MN2-V, or MN3-V.
Most flocks in the SheepMAP are stud flocks and these can provide a source of low-risk rams for commercial sheep producers.
- SheepMAP is a voluntary national program for flocks so that producers can demonstrate that the flocks are at very low risk of having OJD.
- The program requires flock testing as well as a biosecurity plan to be in place.
- SheepMAP status may be maintained, but not progressed, by vaccination.
- SheepMAP flocks must have regular audits and property visits by a SheepMAP accredited vet.
Note: the Sheep MAP has recently been reviewed. Some changes to the Sheep MAP manual have been made. The most recent version can be downloaded by clicking on the link on the right of this page.