Teeth, Tags, and a TSE

Teeth, tags,
and a TSE
Sheep & Goat Specialist
Western Maryland Research
& Education Center
University of Maryland Extension
[email protected]
(301) 432-2767 x343
Today’s topics
• Teeth
– Mouthing sheep and goats
to estimate age
– Mouthing sheep and goats
to determine soundness
• Tags
– Methods of identifying
sheep and goats
– Ear tagging basics
– Scrapie in sheep and goats
– Tagging requirements
Mature sheep and goats have 32 teeth
Lambs and kids have 20 temporary teeth
Dental pad
no teeth
(front teeth)
Back teeth
Picture source: Merck Veterinary Manual, 8th edition
Mouthing sheep and goats to estimate age
• You can estimate the
approximate age of sheep and
goats by determining the age at
which the milk teeth are
replaced by permanent incisors.
• Age varies by individual animal,
breed, environment, and
Source for illustrations: Adapted from Vatta et al. (2005) Goatkeepers' Veterinary Manual.
Lamb – less than 1 year of age
Baby teeth
Milk teeth
All temporary
Yearling (1-2 years)
1 pair
2 to 3 year old
2 pairs
3 to 4 year old
3 pairs
4-5 years old – solid mouth
4 pairs
7-8 year old – Solid mouth
< 4 pairs
10-11 year old
broken mouth
11+ years old
Another way to tell how old a sheep is
Lamb, > 12 months
2 break joints
Yearling, 13-24 months
spool and/or break joints
Mature sheep, > 2 years
2 spool joints
Identifying sheep and goats
• Permanent
Ear tags
Ear notches
Electronic ID
• Temporary
Neck chains or collars
Paint brands
Paint sprays
Markers or paint sticks
Ear tagging basics
Proper tags
Proper tool
Ear tagging basics
Proper restraint
Proper placement
How to reduce ear tag infections
• Tag young animals
• Tag clean, dry ears
• Tag when humidity is
• Use smaller tag
• Avoid metal tags
• Punch a hole in the
ear before inserting
How to reduce ear tag infections
• Apply lubricating
antiseptic to male
and female parts of
• Dip in iodine
• Soak ear tags in
alcohol or another
disinfectant before
 Cut out infected tags
How to reduce tag losses
• Insert tag 1 to 2
inches from skull
– Thicker part of ear
– Less snagging
• Put female part of
tag on inside of ear
– Less snagging
• Avoid large veins
What to do if animal loses a tag
• 4-H tag
– Contact 4-H office
• Scrapie ID
– Put in a new scrapie tag
Own flock/herd
Flock/herd of origin
– Write down old number
and new number
• Registration tag
– Replace with a tag with
the same number
[TSE] Scrapie
Disease of sheep and goats.
Affects central nervous system.
Animals over 18 months of age
Always fatal.
Member of a family of diseases called
transmissible spongiform
encephalopathy (TSEs).
Other TSEs
– Mad cow disease
– Chronic wasting disease
– Creutzfeldt-Jakob’s disease
How does a sheep or goat get scrapie?
• Direct contact with
an infected sheep
or goat.
→Direct contact with
infected placenta.
• Environmental
contamination (?)
Can all sheep and goats get scrapie?
• Affects mostly blackface
and speckled-faced sheep.
• Few cases in goats in U.S.
• A sheep’s genetics
determines if it will get
scrapie if it is exposed.
– R gene - resistance
– Q gene - susceptibility
• They are still looking for
resistant genotypes in
-- MANDATORY -Tagging requirement for scrapie program
• Tag all sheep and goats
when they leave your
Sell to neighbor
Go to weigh-in and tagging
Go to fair
Go to sale barn
• Tag should be applied at
the farm where the
goat or sheep was born.
Why? To trace back infected animals to
their farm of origin and find other animals
that might have been exposed.
Premise ID
Individual animal ID
Tattoo instead of ear tag
• A flock ID and individual
animal number can take
the place of an ear tag.
• A registration tattoo
may also take the place
of a tattoo if the animal
accompanied by its
registration paper.
What if . . . ?
• The sheep or goat you buy
doesn’t have a scrapie tag?
– The seller is required to tag the
– If the seller doesn’t provide a tag,
tag the animal with another scrapie
tag and record the seller’s name
and address so you can prove the
animal wasn’t born on your farm.
• The sheep or goat loses its
scrapie tag?
– Put in another tag and record both
tag numbers (lost and new).
How to get FREE scrapie tags
• Contact John T. Swann
at (410) 349-9708 or
[email protected]
• He will assign a Flock ID and
order your free ear tags and
pliers to apply them.
Thank you for your attention.
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