The Minnesota Project

The Minnesota Project

OPP Eradication Strategy Proven to Work

By Judy Lewman and Holly Neaton, DVM
Special to the Sheep Industry News

In the Fall of 2013, encouraged by USDA Sheep and Goat Epidemiologist Dr. Chuck Gaiser and with Minnesota’s OPP program no longer piggybacked on the Scrapie Flock Certification Program, we approached the Minnesota Lamb & Wool Producers about an OPP eradication trial.

Leadership quickly signed on to match producer costs, while the Minnesota Board of Animal Health and U.S. Department of Agriculture-Veterinary Services agreed to visit flocks to collect samples. The University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory offered to waive accession fees and discount testing charges, and the trial was on.
Following completion of year three, a ‘Minnesota Grown’ grant was awarded to support the project through a fourth and final year. We have coordinated the trial throughout, working as OPP Society volunteers, and have just published our final report, which is available online at: and

We were fairly confident that this new strategy for getting rid of OPP was going to work – no orphan rearing, no need to cull infected ewes that remain productive – but there were no guarantees. So those producers who had the courage to stick with the project are to be commended.

It wasn’t all fun and games. There were challenges and setbacks, but all say they would do it again. Below are some slides from trial producer, Rob Goerger, who presented at the recent joint annual conference of the North Dakota Lamb and Wool Producers Association and the Minnesota Lamb and Wool Producers in Fargo, N.D.
Granted, those who enrolled in the trial enjoyed some cost saving benefits, but this strategy is straightforward and within the reach of anyone willing to invest in their own future.

Minnesota is currently the only state with an OPP program. For more information on the program, visit

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