Round 3 -- Funded Projects, 2016

AWARDED TO:
Western Maryland Commercial Sheep Producer Group via University of Maryland (Extension)


SCOPE:
Maryland, Virginia, Georgia


SUMMARY:
The purpose of this project is to determine the level of anthelmintic resistance on thirty commercial sheep farms in Maryland, Virginia, and Georgia by cost‐sharing (50% @ $225) the DrenchRite® test ($450) and conducting a follow‐up visit with each farm to discuss the results of the test and strategies for dealing with anthelmintic resistance. Large (100+ ewes) commercial farms that graze their lambs will be favored for cost‐sharing. Farmer participants will be drawn from the membership of the newly forming Western Maryland Commercial Sheep Group, New River Valley Sheep & Goat Club (in Virginia), and Georgia Sheep and Wool Growers Association. The results of the tests will be shared collectively with the industry to provide an updated overview of anthelmintic resistance in the Southeast.


STATUS:
In Process.


PROGRESS REPORT:

AWARDED TO:
Producers Marketing Cooperative Incorporated


SCOPE:
Texas


SUMMARY:
This project will work with 6 ranchers to implement 2 or more components of the “12 Lamb Crop Best Practices” factsheet. They will serve as case studies to demonstrate applicable techniques to increase lamb crop on Texas range sheep operations. These case studies will be used by PMCI and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension to demonstrate how to increase lamb crop in Texas range sheep operations.


STATUS:
In Process.


PROGRESS REPORT:

AWARDED TO:
Utah Leading Edge Group


SCOPE:
Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, Nevada


SUMMARY:
Goals for this proposal include:

  1. Establish a Breeding/Production consortium group
  2. Create a terminal sire breeding scheme and educate the group as to how the group needs to function
  3. Provide project scope and insight into the terminal sire breeding and genetic plan including the creation of stabilized composites in large enough numbers to cover group demand
  4. Introduce and discuss the basic components of a maternal breeding scheme
  5. Consider the formation of a direct marketing/branded product program

STATUS:
In Process.


PROGRESS REPORT:

View the presentation provided during the 2017 ASI Convention at Leading Edge Sheep Producers

Better Genetics Equals More Profit ran in the November 2016 issue of the Sheep Industry News. Read more about the project through this article.

AWARDED TO:
Cornell University


SCOPE:
Nationwide


SUMMARY:
The genetic investigation of out of season breeding in sheep is aimed at identifying genes regulating the trait and diagnostic markers for use in selection programs. Marker assisted selection improves the accuracy and intensity of selection allowing farmers to make advances in out of season breeding more efficiently and effectively within their flock without the use of hormonal treatments or the necessity of waiting multiple breeding cycles. Genetic results from this research will be proposed for commercial assay development and extension efforts will be made by the researchers to disseminate information and application to producers.


STATUS:
In Process.


PROGRESS REPORT:

AWARDED TO:
American Polypay Sheep Association


SCOPE:
Nationwide


SUMMARY:
Participation in the National Sheep Improvement Program by purebred Associations, not just producers, is vital for the expanded use of quantitative genetics in the U.S. Sheep Industry. Purebred associations have the ability to provide leadership to producer groups with common goals and to adapt their respective sheep to meet the changing needs of the commercial sheep industry. As one example, it has been estimated that parasites alone cost sheep producers $4.3 million per year in death loss. Our goal is to increase American Polypay Association membership enrollment and participation in the NSIP by 25%, from approximately 37 participants in NSIP currently, to 57 participants in 3 years. Additionally, we aim to increase sheep (sires and ewes) with EBV's for FEC from approximately 96 currently, to 3,000 in 3 years. This proposal could change the paradigm in the sheep industry through providing a pilot project that utilizes breed associations to support the goals of the American Sheep Industry.


STATUS:
In Process.


PROGRESS REPORT:

Jerry Sorensen presents to the American Polypay Association the desire to develop NSIP EBVs for parasite resistance.

Update on APSA Fecal Egg Count Project

Christopher S. Schauer

During the summer of 2016, the American Polypay Sheep Association (APSA) was awarded a grant from the American Sheep Industry Association Let’s Grow grant program, with the goal of increasing the number of Polypay sheep with fecal egg count (FEC) National Sheep Improvement Program (NSIP) Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs). To accomplish this goal, the APSA is paying for the FEC evaluation of 1,000 lambs per year in 2016-2018 for registered APSA breeders, targeting 100 lambs per breeder per year from at least 10 flocks across the nation. In addition to providing breeders with a free FEC evaluation of their pasture raised lambs, the APSA is asking producers to collect blood cards on all of the sires from the lambs with FEC data collected. The outcome of these goals is an increase in the number of commercial and purebred rams with FEC EBVs that can be used in commercial operations across the U.S. If these goals can be met, the Polypay breed can be used as an example to other breeds on ways to decrease their reliance on chemical parasite control, while also addressing the problem of parasites resistance to conventional wormers.

For the 2016 growing season, the APSA paid for the testing of 767 lambs from 11 producers and 44 contemporary groups, while also collecting sire data and blood cards for potential future genetic research on DNA markers for parasite resistance. While the goal of collecting data on 1,000 lambs in year 1 was not met, we exceeded our goal of 10 producers participating in the program. We are confident that through the success of year 1, we will be able to test over 1,000 lambs in year 2. The result of these efforts in the 1st year is 66 sires and 364 dams with FEC EBVs, resulting in 518 ram lambs and 569 ewe lambs with FEC EBVs. Based on these values, it is estimated that 70% of the 2016 lambs with FEC EBVs are a direct result of the FEC grant program. In other words, a 240% increase over the number of lambs that likely would have been collected without the program! Additionally, there are likely producers not on NSIP that benefited from the collection of FEC data for selection on their own operation, as participating in NSIP is not a requirement for becoming part of the APSA FEC project.

The APSA will be conducting this program again during the 2017 grazing season. An information sheet has been included in the newsletter, with contacting information for the Project Coordinator as well as the rest of the project committee. Deliveries of supplies can occur at the APSA National Sale, the NSIP Sale, or by mail. Feel free to contact Christopher Schauer at chris_schauer@yahoo.com if you have questions.

AWARDED TO:
Dakota Lamb Growers Cooperative


SCOPE:
Nationwide


SUMMARY:
In December 2015, the ASI's Let's Grow "Second Round of Funding" Program funded a joint initiative (title: GM1 sheep production for Huntington's Disease) by Glycoscience Research Inc. and the Dakota Lamb Growers Co-op to create a series of educational outreach videos to be used to build awareness of the GM1 production project among sheep producers. These videos are intended to grow the participating numbers of cooperators, thereby providing a safe and plentiful source of GM1 ganglioside for therapeutic use for clinical trials in Huntington’s disease (a fatal progressive genetic neurologic disease). The current proposal builds upon the previously funded project by providing detailed information for cooperating sheep producers participating in the GM1 project. Participating cooperators will be able to access training materials covering crucial techniques and record management; potential cooperators can learn details of the GRI's contract, genetic traits of the GRI rams, and care of the affected lambs. Record management is of particular importance to ensure the success of the GM1 project because the USDA requires strict records be kept for pharmaceutical tracking. A temporary Project Coordinator (paid internship) position is needed to manage the creation of the training video series; to create a record keeping system that will be used by the cooperator, DLGC and GRI in the tracking of lambs with GM1 genetics; and to develop a communication protocol to allow cooperators to coordinate blood sample collection and affected lamb deliveries to GRI for processing. Creation of both a robust record management tool and an effective communication protocol now will increase efficiency and productivity on all sides as all lambs-- normal, carriers and affected--enter the market stream after FDA approval for GM1 ganglioside use in humans.


STATUS:
In Process.


PROGRESS REPORT:

Educational and Outreach Videos:

We have made excellent progress toward meeting the proposed goals included in both grants. Educational and outreach videos (funded by 12/15/2015 award) have largely been filmed and edited. Several of these films were forwarded previously to ASI as evidence of progress. Training videos, for use primarily by participating cooperators, have been filmed and are in the process of being edited. These include blood sample collection and sample packaging, among others.

Cooperator Communication Protocol:

The Project Coordinator has structured cooperator communications using scheduled email newsletter deliveries (via constant contact) as well as frequent Twitter and Facebook posts. We recently started featuring a few of our cooperator families in the constant contact newsletter; we would like to continue to feature these families in the future to build a network among the cooperator families in the GM1 project. This will foster the mentoring relationships needed by cooperators new to the sheep industry.

Another aspect the Project Coordinator hopes to accomplish is to continue to add more about each of the current cooperators to the project's social media sites. One way this could be accomplished is by going on farm visits and getting cooperator stories of why they joined the GM1 for HD project (people who have not already been interviewed for the outreach videos). Their firsthand stories could be an impactful way to get many more potential cooperators interested in the project.

The Project Coordinator will continue to work on strengthening the communication protocol and conditioning cooperators to use this as an efficient means of communication. We will develop a short cooperator survey to access the effectiveness of social media as a networking and information-delivering means of communication.

AWARDED TO:
National Sheep Improvement Program


SCOPE:
Nationwide


SUMMARY:
The NSIP Ram Buying Guide (funded by the first round of Let’s Grow grants) has been well received by the industry. Configuring a searchable database will allow producers to utilize the tool more effectively when selecting rams based on estimated breeding values (EBVs) by providing a list of rams with the desired EBVs. Once developed, educating the industry on this new tool will take place at several ram sales where rams with EBVs for productivity improvement can have a substantial impact on the commercial industry.


STATUS:
In Process.


PROGRESS REPORT:

AWARDED TO:
RightRisk, LLC


SCOPE:
Nationwide


SUMMARY:
This project will start with a Financial Needs Assessment Survey of sheep producers and continue with the Foundations for Better Business Management 2‐week online lesson in the fall of 2016. The survey results and experience with the Foundations lesson will guide the development and delivery of a 10‐week Business Tools for Success online module in the summer of 2017. In addition, the survey results will be summarized into a report for the ASI convention and two editions of RightRisk News will prominently feature articles directly related to the project. As a result of this project, sheep producers throughout the country will be better equipped to use business tools to make decisions, communicate with lending officers, and implement good business management practices.


STATUS:
In Process.


PROGRESS REPORT:

AWARDED TO:
Montana Wool Growers Association


SCOPE:
Montana


SUMMARY:
There are three objectives to the Next Generation Wool Grower proposal:

  1. Development of young producer group to facilitate enduring networking and information exchange that translates into best management practices and leadership in the sheep industry.
  2. Facilitate adoption of novel management strategies via exchange programs to sheep operations throughout the region and Canada.
  3. Develop an ongoing participant sheep enterprise database for participants to establish and monitor financial wellbeing, and improve decision-­‐making.

STATUS:
In Process.


PROGRESS REPORT:

AWARDED TO:
Montgomery Sheep Farm


SCOPE:
Southeastern U.S.


SUMMARY:
With the challenges facing the contemporary sheep industry; there exists a unique opportunity to expand existing grass based sheep production in the Southeast by replicating relevant aspects of the Pipestone model. With growing interest in “out of season” lambing through our cooperative production network, Sun-Raised Farms is positioned in the Southeast to take a leadership role to coordinate and grow network economies of scale working with similar genetics. With emphasis on further developing the production capacity and market timing of consistent and repeatable production.

Sun-Raised Farms is a 34-member wholesale livestock marketing network that specializes in grass based/pasture-raised lambs. Network members are small and medium-scale farmers some of whom farm full-time and others who work off-farm and raise lambs for supplemental income. All of our members live and work in North Carolina and represent diverse backgrounds, including Caucasian/European, African American, Hispanic and Native American heritage. We share a common goal to aggregate our supply and sell high-quality, AWA-approved, pasture raised lambs to a growing network of wholesale buyers. All of our members are experienced farmers and bring to this project their skills in raising livestock outdoors on pasture. Our members have learned over the years how to put aside their individual concerns or issues for the “greater good” of working together. We have developed skills in managing production and delivery schedules, attracting and retaining wholesale buyers, negotiating pricing, and trouble-shooting problems.

Breeding stock selection is a key determinant of lamb quality. Farmers need to make breeding decisions that balance the need for high yields (e.g., pounds marketed per ewe) and meat quality/eating experience. These characteristics are not automatically found together in currently available breeding stock /seed stock suppliers suitable for outdoor pasture-based production systems.

The goal of our project is to enhance our lamb quality and yield. To make progress toward our goal, we propose to contract with a lamb breeder(s) to raise ewes sired from different genetics using high quality NSIP registered rams with high parasite resistance.

This involves:

  1. Selecting and purchasing desired sire(s)
  2. Breeding selected ewes with sires
  3. Raising lambs under consistent conditions and feeding programs
  4. Measuring ADG (Avg Daily Gain) when moving lambs from pasture to pasture/farm to farm
  5. Calculating feed efficiency and profitability
  6. Collecting and analyzing forage tissue and feed samples
  7. Conducting live animal observations of reproductive characteristics (e.g., sufficient leg length for natural breeding, days to maturity)
  8. Slaughtering selected animals and evaluating meat quality characteristics

STATUS:
In Process.


PROGRESS REPORT:

View the presentation provided during the 2017 ASI Convention at: Grass Based Pipestone in the Southeast