New Method to Eliminate Ovine Progressive Pneumonia in Sheep Flocks in North Dakota

2013 Annual Report for FNC13-929

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2013: $18,250.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2014
Region: North Central
State: North Dakota
Project Coordinator:
Rick Schmidt
NDSU Extension Service

New Method to Eliminate Ovine Progressive Pneumonia in Sheep Flocks in North Dakota


New method to eliminate Ovine Progressive Pneumonia in sheep flocks in North Dakota began by determining what the prevalence of OPP is in the state. By testing many of the state’s ram consigner operations who provide seedstock to both purebred and commercial operations, we were able to obtain a snapshot of what may be the incidence/occurrence statewide.

Through the grant, 12 different farms with at least 50 head of mature sheep were sampled.  A total of 733 sheep were tested where both serology and haplotype data was collected.  Samples were taken from eight different breeds including Columbia, Dorset, Hampshire, Katahdin, Montadale, Polypay, Rambouillet and Suffolk.

Notes were taken at each operation during the blood collection phase of this grant which included observations of thin ewes, runny noses, lack of thriftiness and producer comments about ewes to see if there are physical methods to determine if ewes have OPP. 

What we have found at this point is 66% of the flocks tested had some level of infection.  The range of infection varied from 0% to 76% of the flock having a serology indicating the ewe was positive for OPP. The infection rate of the 733 sheep tested was 28%.

The severity of infection rate ranged from 4 flocks at 0%, 3 flocks from 0-10%, 3 flocks from 10-25% and 2 flocks having greater than 25% infection.

In our testing, only one breed, which was our smallest sample, did not have an OPP positive result.

As a result of some of the information learned from the test samples, we know there is a lot more to learn about OPP.  The plan is to resample some of the individuals to confirm the results. We need to learn more about the haplotypes as some of what we expected is not necessarily what we found in the samples.

Continue to educate producers and the industry about OPP and find a way to address the disease in a flock by flock manner.

Information collected has been shared with each of the producers on an individual basis to maintain confidentiality.

Education about what OPP is and how it affects sheep has been presented at the North Dakota Lamb and Wool convention and to NDSU Extension staff with a livestock emphasis.

We will continue to produce an Extension bulletin for general distribution and educational posters to display at ram and ewe sales as well as sheep events in the region.  We are looking into having a webinar to reach interested parties in a more region/nationwide capacity.


Rick Schmidt
Producer/Project Leader
3650 Hwy 25
Center, ND 58530
Office Phone: 7017943118