News in Brief

ASI Market-App Calculators

As fall activities begin to wind down, this is a good time to remind producers of the two calculators that were added to the American Sheep Industry Association Market App – a wool calculator and a gestation calculator.

The wool calculator helps a producer calculate total price on a given day by entering micron and estimated yield of the clip. It provides updated international market prices relative to the type of preparation and type of wool in the United States for a specific micron. It also takes into account exchange rates and converts Australian prices to U.S. dollars per pound (instead of kilos).

Wool descriptions define the various preparation choices used in the United States and other relevant pricing factors such as length, strength and contamination levels that influence variance in prices for that specific micron diameter.
An estimated lambing date can be easily calculated by inputting the service date into the gestation calculator. It also identifies the estimated return date based on an average cycle of 17 days.

The calculators are available for both android and iPhone users and can be downloaded through your App Store by searching for ASI Market News. Click on the ASI Tools tab to locate the calculators.

Ear Tag Placement Preferred by Shearers

Here are some guidelines for placement of scrapie tags to help prevent injury to shearers.

Metal tags are a risk to shearers. In order to reduce the risk of injury to shearers while shearing, it is requested that plastic scrapie tags be used and placed in middle to outside (not close to the head) of the LEFT ear.

Wade Kopren (shearer representative on ASI’s Wool Council) said, “The correct ear would be the left ear when standing behind the animal. Middle of the ear to the outside is the best placement. I think that the resolution set forth by the council pertains to future use of tags.”

Producers with questions about the preferred use and placement of ear tags should consult with their local shearer.

Lamb Board Appointments

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced four appointments to the 2016 Lamb Promotion, Research, and Information Board. Each appointee will serve a three-year term.

The newly appointed board members are: Tom Colyer, Massachusetts, and Gwendolyn Kitzan, South Dakota, representing producers; Martin Auza, California, representing feeders; and Jeffrey D. Oatman, Colorado, representing first handlers.

The board is composed of six producers, three feeders, one seedstock producer and three first handlers. The Secretary of Agriculture appoints approximately one-third of all board members each year.

Research and promotion programs are industry-funded, authorized by Congress and date back to 1966. Since then, Congress has authorized the establishment of 22 research and promotion boards. They empower farmers and ranchers to leverage their own resources to develop new markets, strengthen existing markets and conduct important research and promotion activities.

Three Appointed to NSIIC Board

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack appointed three members to the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center Board of Directors. Two members will serve three-year terms and one member will serve a two-year term, beginning January 2016.

Appointed to the board representing sheep producers are Janet B. Mawhinney, Waynesburg, Pa., and Marsha Ann Spykerman, Sibley, Iowa. Appointed to the board representing expertise in finance and management is Glen Fisher, Sonora, Texas.

The Sheep Center was established as part of the 2008 Farm Bill and is designed to improve the competitiveness of the U.S. sheep industry.

The board is composed of seven voting members and two non-voting members. Voting members of the board include four members who are active sheep producers in the United States, two members that have expertise in finance and management, and one member that has expertise in lamb and wool marketing. Non-voting members include the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Under Secretary of Agriculture for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, and the Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics.

USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service provides oversight of the center.

Using Livestock Guardian Dogs

“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” This oft used nod to the U.S. Postal Service could as easily describe the work ethic of good livestock guardian dogs, according to Texas A&M AgriLife officials at San Angelo.

Personnel from Texas A&M AgriLife Research and the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service at San Angelo have completed the publication Livestock Guardian Dogs. The eight-page reference guide is available at under publications and as publication EWF-028 9/15 in the AgriLife Bookstore at

The publication complements ongoing field work with the dogs at ranches in Menard and Ozona managed by AgriLife Research at San Angelo.

“This publication is a guide for sheep and goat farmers and ranchers who are looking at using livestock guardian dogs to protect their sheep and goats from predation,” said Dr. Reid Redden, AgriLife Extension state sheep and goat specialist at the center.

Redden was joined in authoring the work by Dr. John Walker, AgriLife Research center director and Dr. John Tomecek, AgriLife Extension wildlife specialist.

Walker said the large rugged dogs, often topping 100 pounds, have been used for thousands of years for guarding flocks elsewhere in the world.

But aside from some interest by U.S. producers in other states, the dogs are a largely untapped resource across much of West Texas, arguably the largest sheep and goat range production region in the nation. The AgriLife staff at San Angelo is working to change that paradigm.

Walker explained that once bonded to their flock, a good guardian stays out in the pasture with his wards year-round with very limited human interaction — no matter what climatic conditions prevail — and is well equipped to do so.

“This publication is for producers interested in using guardian dogs for the first time,” Redden said. “It’s also for those who may have had some previous troubles with guardian dogs protecting their flocks and herds against predators. The information presented will help both audiences get started on the right foot and maybe resolve some issues that they’ve seen in the past.”

Proper bonding of the dog with the livestock to be protected is paramount to success, Redden said.

“One of the issues with using guardian dogs is getting them properly bonded to a flock and also getting them adjusted in a manner that’s conducive to protection against predators; making sure they’re not leaving the property and not exhibiting behaviors that are counterproductive to controlling predators and maintaining the good health of the sheep and goats and themselves.”

Redden, who has used the dogs personally and professionally for more than a quarter century, is convinced they are a key element to maintaining or expanding sheep and goat numbers across their former West Texas ranges.

“Livestock guardian dogs in my opinion are one of the best predator management tools available because they give a level of protection constantly, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year,” he said.

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