By Jan Jackson
September 2005 -- End-product quality was the focus of the 20th Annual Howard Wyman Sheep Industry Leadership School held July 10-14, 2005, held in Columbus, Ohio, on The Ohio State University (OSU) campus. This year, 32 students between the ages of 20 and 80 attended from Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington. Two-thirds of the attendees were first-time sheep-school participants.
Howard Wyman, who headed the school until his retirement last year, started the National Lamb Feeders Association (NLFA)-sponsored school in 1985, to show producers what happens to their lambs once they leave their farm. The NLFA Board of Directors took that goal to new heights this year when they partnered with OSU and included their Lamb 509 Short Course in the sheep-school program. Though the school was expanded from three days to four and enrollment from 25 to 32, there were more producers wanting to enroll in the program than could be accommodated.
Henry Zerby, Ph.D., OSU extension meats specialist, and Roger High, OSU sheep extension associate, worked around the clock to manage the combined course. The Lamb 509 portion presented a competitive hands-on program designed to make the producer-students understand the elements of the carcass quality and profit sought by packers. They divided the class into four teams of eight students, assigned a NLFA board member advisor and started them on the arena floor learning how to evaluate live lambs. Once evaluated, they bought their lamb at auction, followed it through the harvest floor and into the cooler, where they learned to make the cuts needed for the wholesale market. Each team compiled their data and looked forward to seeing which one of them made the most profit. With the highest profit at $4.17, it was clear how important and complex a job it is to raise quality lambs.
True to sheep school tradition, students also visited on-site with local producers to find out what they are or are not doing. Tours for the 2005 school included a reception and dinner at Riverwood Farms, a visit to an ethnic-harvesting facility, a tour of the highly automated Mid-States Wool Growers Coop and tours to two commercial-sheep operations, a club-lamb operation, a lamb feedlot and an auction yard.
NFLA board members Clint Krebs, Ione, Ore., and Jeff Hasbrouck, Ault, Colo., were appointed to put the 2006 Howard Wyman Sheep Industry Leadership School together. It will be held in Greeley, Colo., and led by Steve LeValley, Department of Animal Sciences at Colorado State University.
For more information on the school or NLFA membership, write to NLFA at 1270 Chemeketa Street NE; Salem, OR 97301; call 503-370-7020 or visit www.nlfa.sheep.org. For more information on the OSU Lamb 509 Short Course, write to Roger High; The Ohio State University; 222E Animal Sciences Building; 2029 Fyffe Road; Columbus, OH 43210; call 614-292-0589 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.