June 5, 2009
"We fully support the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) analysis and proposed plan to continue ongoing sheep grazing and associated activities that have been historically occurring in conjunction with ARS's U.S. Sheep Experiment Station (USSES) research to develop integrated methods for increasing the production efficiency of sheep and to simultaneously improve the sustainability of rangeland ecosystems." This is the point that was stressed by the Idaho Wool Growers Association and the Montana Wool Growers Association in collaboration with the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) in its comments on the Scoping Information for the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station Grazing and Associated Activities Project 2009.
Since its establishment in 1918, the USSES has been instrumental to the sheep industry in the areas of sheep breed development, evaluation and improvement. Also an important focus at the USSES, spanning 90 years, has been its rangelands and range nutrition research.
Some of the current research at the station is focused on:
- developing new or improving existing genetic lines of sheep that specialize in paternal and maternal traits that enhance lamb growth, lamb carcass merit and yield of marketable product;
- improving nutrient management throughout the sheep production cycle;
- enhancing population immunity in flocks for economically important disease issues; and
- developing science-based grazing and prescribed burn management strategies and decision support systems that can be used to guide managers to maintain or improve the ecological function of western rangelands.