A high health status sheep industry for the Highlands and Islands of Scotland
The study examined the economy of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland generally and that of its agricultural industry in particular. Enzootic Abortion of Ewes (EAE) was found to be the principal cause of ovine abortion in Scotland and the United Kingdom. In addition, the Highlands and Islands' area had certain advantages with respect to EAE that could be exploited. The literature review concluded that the production and marketing of high health status (HHS) breeding sheep offered development opportunities. An HHS breeding sheep research programme was designed and implemented. Firstly, surveys were carried out with producers in Caithness and in the Highlands and Islands as a whole. Secondly, the views of veterinary practices throughout Scotland were sought. Thirdly, the opinions of lowground breeding sheep farmers were surveyed in Grampian and the Borders of Scotland. It was found that a potential market existed for HHS breeding sheep accredited for EAE and vaccinated against the Clostridial Diseases and Pasteurella. The Highlands and Islands' area appeared to have advantages in this respect, especially that EAE lent itself to control by sheep health schemes and that the purchase of HHS replacements was believed to be the most reliable method of controlling EAE by the farmers, crofters and veterinary practices surveyed. The Highlands and Islands' Sheep Health Association (a co-operative) was found to be the market leader in this development area. A production and marketing strategy was proposed for HISHA containing guidelines for the prevention and control of EAE, identifying the productive capability of the Highlands and Islands and customer requirements for HHS breeding sheep. Objectives were proposed for HISHA to maintain and increase its membership, specifically to develop the market for HHS breeding sheep in collaboration with farmers, crofters and veterinary practices for the benefit of HHS sheep industry.