HeadShippingBox When the WA State Dept of AG scrapie inspector, Millie, was out here this January to do my annual inspection, I asked her to review with me again, what is the procedure when you have an adult sheep die. When you are in the “voluntary” version of the scrapie program (the Scrapie Flock Certification Program, or SFCP), you have to handle adult animal deaths in a special way. If the death is at all suspicious of scrapie, then the animal must be tested at a faraway lab.

The test in question requires the whole head of the animal. And it must be refrigerated (not frozen) until it can be shipped. So, you have to keep the severed head presumably your kitchen fridge (unless you have a barn fridge ,and that is my #1 goal when we get a new barn, is to have a barn fridge).

Not that we haven’t had as strange, or stranger, things in our kitchen fridge/freezer before (like a dead coyote, for instance). But I must have unconsciously given Millie a “look” when she reminded me about this part. Because she kindly offered to have a head-shipping box sent to me now, so I’d have it on hand. I’d still need to refrigerate the head to cool it before sending it. But at least it would be more like a matter of hours, rather than days, of having a dead sheep’s eyes staring back at me when I go to, say, grab a beer from the fridge.

I thought this sounded fine. But I didn’t really think about what kind of package you ship a chilled ovine head in, exactly. I think I had envisioned a flat cardboard box I could slide behind a dresser, or something. When it arrived (via FedEx overnight, because they probably assumed I already had the urgent situation of a sheep head next to the meatloaf leftovers in my kitchen fridge) I realized, it’s really just a big foam cooler. It came complete with lots of freeze-able ice packs, soaker pads to capture excess fluid, and a return shipping label (this is all on the government tab: your tax dollars at work, fighting scrapie).

So, hrrm, now I have this big head coffin box to store. I put it under the house. It could be a long while before I need it. For any of my nearby farmer friends who may find themselves in need of a box for shipping a severed ruminant head, don’t forget, I’ve got one handy! 😀

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