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Scientific Data Leads to Exciting Times in our Industry

Susan Shultz, ASI President

As a seedstock producer, I see evidence of positive change in the increased use of data as a selection tool and an escalation of collaboration among all stakeholders in order to make genetic improvements throughout our evolving sheep industry.

Six recent examples include: the visible advancements in cooperation between our U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service centers. Kudos to Dr. Joan Burke in Boonville, Ark., Dr. J. Bret Taylor in Dubois, Idaho, and the team of scientists at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center at Clay Center, Neb., that are led by Dr. Brad Freking and Dr. Tom Murphy.

These scientists have a true passion for improving our industry and are currently collaborating on many new research efforts. One of my favorites is the establishment of reference flocks that will be key to better use of our on-farm records and genomic understanding.

In conjunction with the ARS efforts, the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture recently awarded a $650,000 grant to collect data on traits that will have a major impact on profitability for producers including lamb survival, ewe longevity, parasitism and udder health. Dr. Ron Lewis at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln serves as the project leader. Dr. Luis Brito of Purdue University is another key member of that team. The project is called Sheep GEMS, and is a collaborative effort between ARS stations, universities and individual NSIP flocks.

Participating NSIP flocks – called Innovation Flocks – will combine their on-farm performance records and corresponding estimated breeding values with tissue samples for genotyping to support the goal of establishing a reference population of more than 3,000 animals in each of four designated breeds by the end of the three-year project.

Another sign of change is Superior Farms continued commitment to genomic technology through its Flock 54 program. Under the capable guidance of Karissa Isaacs, the company has introduced many of our producers to the world of genomics.

Fourthly, the National Sheep Improvement Program – our industry’s organization that turns on farm performance records into science-based measurements (EBVs) – saw a record number of new members in 2021. The adoption of this technology continues to increase under the leadership of Rusty Burgett and a hardworking and committed producer board.

The increased adoption of electronic identification tags and the use of electronic scales, readers and handling equipment that allows for the speedy collection of the important data that needs to be collected by producers is also a glaring sign that our industry is rapidly jumping forward.

And finally, the establishment of the organization Sheep Genetics USA – which provides a forum for input from all segments of our industry on the priorities needed for research and the methods needed to support those genetic improvement efforts – is a positive effort in true collaboration.

All of these signs point to a seismic change in how we use genetic information in our industry, with a corresponding positive gain in production efficiencies.

Jump on board because these are exciting times.

Record Prices Could Lead to Changes in Cull/Slaughter Ewe Marketing

BRIDGER FEUZ
University of Wyoming

Often, producers don’t think of cull or slaughter ewes as a marketing opportunity. Record high cull ewe prices this past year might have some producers thinking differently.

There are numerous reasons that producers cull ewes from their flocks. Producers tend to get rid of ewes if they are open/dry, lame, bad bags, bad eyes, bad mothers or just too old. It is no wonder that when these ewes are ready to go down the road, producers are eager just to get rid of them.

Producers are almost always culling ewes because of a problem. However, since these cull ewes make up, on average, between 15 and 25 percent of a flock each year, they can be a sizeable income source to an operation.

Another important factor to consider relative to cull ewes is that often producers are making culling decisions at relatively the same time in the production cycle every year. This means that these cull ewes get marketed as slaughter ewes in higher volumes shortly after these production cycle times.

In the Intermountain West, that generally translates to September and October. The timing will be different in other regions, but it is likely that the bulk of the slaughter ewes will be marketed in a two to three month time period for each region. Not surprising, the market price for slaughter ewes is often lowest during these same periods. It’s not a conspiracy, its simply that the supply of ewes during those periods drives the price down.

While I had a sense that the cull/slaughter ewe market might be quite cyclical based on these and other factors, I had not delved further into the market until recently. Last fall, I worked with the Livestock Marketing Information Center to develop a seasonal price index for slaughter ewes at the Colorado auction. A seasonal price index looks at prices during a set time period – in this case 10 years – and essentially adjusts the average annual price to a value of 1.00. The seasonal price index then compares the monthly adjusted prices to the average annual price of 1.00.

As I mentioned above, September and October are the highest volume months in the Intermountain West. The seasonal price index for slaughter ewes in Colorado in September is 0.91 and in October the index is 0.85. That means that September ewe prices are almost 10 percent below the annual average and October ewe prices are 15 percent below the annual average. Conversely, January, February and March are the highest months for the seasonal price index at 1.16, 1.15 and 1.07, respectively. So, while October is 15 percent below the annual average, January is 16 percent above the annual average. Which means that the January price is generally 31 percent higher than the October price. You can see each month of the Colorado region on the seasonal price index chart (at right).

Does that mean that all the producers in the Colorado region that market their cull ewes in September and October are making a bad marketing decision?
The answer is not necessarily.

Holding cull ewes after October in the Colorado region would require additional feed, labor and other resources. Additionally, keeping ewes around from October to January could increase the chance for death loss. However, if you could manage cull ewes on your operation efficiently, it might be something to consider. Keep in mind if everyone decided to shoot for the January average high, it would just shift the seasonal price index making January the new low month.

While this seasonal price index is calculated for the Colorado region, other regions might also see similar highs and lows in the annual cycle. It is important to understand the cyclical nature of the market in your area, but many areas could take advantage of marketing cull ewes off the peak in the volume cycle.

How do you know if it makes sense on your operation to hold/feed ewes to try and take advantage of this seasonal price cycle? Let’s walk through a scenario where you decide to move your traditional cull ewe marketing date from Oct. 15 to Jan. 15, and your ewes weigh 180 lbs.

• Assume the average price for slaughter ewes on Oct. 15 was $0.95 per pound.

• Cull ewe value in October would be 180 lbs x $0.95 = $171 per head.

• Assume conservatively we will see a 25 percent increase in the price on Jan. 15.

• Assume we just maintain the weight of the ewes.

• The new market price based on the conservative 25 percent increase would be $1.18.

• Cull ewe value in January would then be 180 lbs. x $1.18 = $212.40 per head.

• The value difference between January and October is $41.40 per head.

The gross feeding/operating margin is $41.40 per head. That means if you can feed the ewes a maintenance diet with feeding, labor, death loss, vet and other expenses for less than $41.40, you could increase the profit on your cull ewes.

Only you as a manager can decide if the added effort and risk are worth the potential return to managing your cull ewes for a different market timing.
However, given the consistency of the seasonal price index for slaughter ewes in the Colorado region, it seems like it is worth the effort to run the numbers on your own operation to see if it could improve your overall profitability.

A great tool to use for this is a partial budget. You can find this calculator and others on the Wyoming Ranch Tools site at UWyoExtension.org/ranchtools.

Wool Prices Continue Steady Increase in 2022

As wool shearing continues across the United States, in a few weeks’ time all eyes will be on the Australian wool market. Australian wool prices have improved this year compared to 2021 and 2020, but are still lagging pre-2020 levels. American wool prices have been steady with modest gains compared to a year ago.

In February, the Australian Eastern Market Indicator averaged 1,428 cents per kg clean, 10 percent higher than the prior year, but 9 percent lower than in 2020. The last time the EMI surpassed 1,400 cents per kg clean was in July 2021. The EMI gained in recent months, reaching Australian $6.57 per lb. (U.S. $4.68 per lb.) in early February – the highest weekly price since late June of last year. But as of early March, the EMI softened to AUS $6.41 per lb. adjusting to the EMI in U.S. dollar terms, which was at U.S. $4.69 per lb.

Prices for the finer wool market – between 17 to 21 microns – in February reached levels not seen since last summer. Prices for 18 micron wool posted the largest year-over-year gain in February with a 10 percent gain and an increase of $1.15 per lb. more than 2020. A relatively short supply of finer wool and improved demand has supported prices.

Broader wools remain a bit challenged, as prices in February and into early March remained below 2021 and 2020 levels. The market for 21 to 23 micron wools appears to be rather steady, with prices gaining in early March. According to ASI Wool Consultant Barry Savage, since Australia is not a large producer of wool in this micron range, there is an opportunity for American producers to capitalize on this segment of the market. The market for 25 to 26 microns has also been steady in recent weeks, but is still struggling compared to prior years. Coarser wools – 26 micron and higher – are still suffering from soft market demand with prices at historically low levels.

According to Meat and Livestock Australia’s Annual Industry Projections, the relationship between wool and lamb prices has resulted in a shift in the Australia sheep flock away from wool production to lamb production. In the last three years, the percentage of Merino breeding ewes has declined from 76 to 72 percent, driven by record high lamb prices combined with lower returns from wool and difficulty in sourcing shearers. This supply shift is one factor supporting finer wool prices.

The EMI is forecasted to increase in the next five years according to forecasts released by the Australian Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment in early March. According to ABARES, for the 2021-22 fiscal year the Australian EMI is expected to average 1,390 cents per kg with 2022-2023 wool prices gaining about 20 percent to 1,663 cents per kg. The forecasted increases are driven by increasing demand for finer wools and improving economic conditions.

Overall, the wool market is in relatively better position compared to last year as the world transitions to a post-pandemic era. However, higher transportation costs and shipping constraints continue, which will weigh on the United States and international wool market. While the Australian EMI has softened from the season high of 1,449 cents per kg clean posted in early February, it is still trading at 104 cents per kg clean above the previous season’s value for the same time period. The strength in the EMI has come with relatively large volumes as well, which suggests market demand is steadily improving.

Sheep Industry Review Provides 2021 Assessment

AMERICAN LAMB BOARD

The sheep and lamb industry saw prices reach historic levels in 2021. The year of outstanding domestic demand for lamb is summarized in the 2021 Sheep Industry Review – a checkoff funded report commissioned by the American Lamb Board and compiled by ASI.

“The pandemic continued to bring uncertainty during 2021, which drove shifts in consumer food consumption and buying patterns,” said ALB Chairman Peter Camino of Buffalo, Wyo. “Per capita lamb consumption was 1.36 pounds per person for 2021 – the highest level since the early 1990s. Gains in lamb consumption have been linked to the year-round availability of more lamb cuts in supermarkets and direct sales as a result of the pandemic.”

Various factors on the supply side supported higher lamb prices. Persistent drought, higher feed costs and other production constraints – as well as strong slaughter ewe prices – resulted in significantly large mature sheep slaughter in 2021. The continuing downward trend in the American sheep flock has resulted in a smaller lamb crop and lamb supply. Additionally, cold storage inventories in 2021 were below year ago levels, which provided further support to lamb prices.

Although economic uncertainty continued in 2021 – with focus on price inflation and consumer response to higher prices for meat and other goods – the feeder and slaughter lamb prices saw gains of more than 40 percent in 2021. The wholesale lamb market also saw record highs in response to strong consumer demand and tighter available supplies.

Sheep and lamb inventory continued a declining trend, down 2 percent to 5.065 million head. Breeding sheep inventory registered at 3.71 million head, also down 2 percent. Replacement prices posted large gains during the latter half of 2021, similar to live lamb and wholesale lamb price trends. Ewe prices all set new record levels in 2021.

Commercial slaughter was up slightly in 2021 to 2.25 million head. Tighter supplies of feeder lambs were evidenced in lower on-feed numbers during spring and summer months with inventories climbing into the fall. Compared to the 2015-2019 average, on-feed supplies averaged 7 percent lower.

As the sheep flock has continued to decline, so has lamb production. Commercial lamb production was down only 0.5 percent for the year, but was 8 percent lower than the 2015-2019 average. This lower production is attributed to smaller lamb supply and lighter weights.

Feeder lamb (60-90 lbs.) prices in 2021 were above previous year levels every week except the first week of March. In fact, the industry saw a new record high posted at $271.27 per cwt. This equates to 2021 prices that were 45 percent higher than the 2015-2019 average price. These stronger prices were due to tighter lamb supplies, strong consumer demand for lamb and growth in ethnic, local and niche market demand.

Slaughter lamb prices also set records, coming in 44.8 percent higher than 2020 and averaging $217.25 per cwt. The record high was set in early August.
Wholesale lamb values reached record levels during the second half of 2021. The robust wholesale market was supported by strong consumer demand, supply constraints in the meat and poultry complex and year-round availability of more lamb cuts in supermarkets. Based on retail data collected by 210 Analytics LLC across fresh and processed meat, lamb was the only one to grow pound sales year-on-year in 2020. Lamb also had the highest growth in pound sales when compared to the 2019 pre-pandemic normal.

Strong American lamb prices and tight domestic supplies provided an attractive market for lamb imports. In fact, lamb imports were 264.2 million pounds in 2021 – up 23.7 percent.

Mutton imports have surged in the last few years and were up 13.5 percent to 99.8 million pounds in 2021. Australia was the lead country for lamb imports, contributing 195.6 million pounds at an increase of 20.7 percent in 2021. New Zealand also contributed to lamb import totals at 32.9 percent above 2020 and 64.4 million pounds. Overall, imports responded to record high U.S. wholesale lamb prices.

Exports for lamb and mutton totaled 3.48 million pounds – 7.6 percent higher than in 2021. Growth in the export sector was driven primarily by lamb variety meat exports to Mexico. Lamb muscle cut exports rallied to the Caribbean in 2021, with notable growth in the Dominican Republic and gains to Bermuda, the Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago, and Turks and Caicos. Lamb exports as a percent of lamb and mutton production were 2.4 percent, slightly higher than in 2020, but lower than the 2015-2019 average of 3.7 percent.

Live sheep exports increased in 2021 driven by exports to Canada, which accounted for 74 percent of all live sheep exports. Live exports to Mexico have been in decline in recent years.

Looking at 2022, the report estimates commercial production to decline 4 percent and commercial slaughter of American lamb to decrease by about 3 percent. Likewise, imports are expected to fall 3 percent to 352 million pounds. Total lamb availability is expected to contract by 5 percent, with a decline in per capita availability due to the decline in production relative to the U.S. population. In 2022, feeder lamb prices are expected to average 10 percent higher and slaughter lamb prices to average 5 percent higher.

Read the full report at LambResourceCenter.com/resources-blog/2021-sheep-industry-review.

ASI News

Apply Now for Sheep Heritage Scholarship

A $3,000 college scholarship is available once again this year for graduate students from ASI’s Sheep Heritage Foundation.
Students should be working in an area of study that will lead to the advancement of the American sheep industry. Students pursing either a master’s degree or a doctorate at a university in the United States are eligible to apply. The application deadline is May 31.

Visit SheepUSA.org/researcheducation-scholarship for more information and the application form.

 

ASI Research Update Looks at External Parasites

The March ASI Research Update podcast focused on External Parasite Control with Dr. Cassandra Olds of Kansas State University.

“While winter is still in full swing for most of us, longer days and warmer temperatures are right around the corner, and that means green grass, baby lambs and parasites,” said podcast host Jake Thorne of Texas A&M University. “The label ‘parasite’ is really quite all encompassing, and while considerable attention is placed on those that harm sheep from inside the GI tract, just as importantly many parasites create havoc for livestock from the outside.”

External parasites are diverse in nature, and include those who fly, bite, sting and suck blood while making a nuisance of themselves. But that nuisance can take a turn for the worse.

“It really comes down to what your unique situation is,” Olds said. “The best thing you can do is get familiar with these insects and the biology. Then you can start making educated decisions on where is this insect breeding, what is it doing and how can I get rid of it to the best of my abilities.”

Olds said it’s possible for external parasites to create problems for multiple species of livestock and domestic animals on diverse operations. Some parasites might affect everything from sheep to cattle to horses and dogs, while others are specific to the host. Most animals suffer from lice, for example, but they all have their own species of lice.

“If it’s on the incorrect host, they don’t recognize it as a host,” she said. “Sheep and goats tend to share things a lot more. Goats are going to have the closest shareability if you want to call it that.”

Listen to the podcast at Soundcloud.com/user-637754734/asi-research-update-external-parasite-control-with-dr-cassandra-olds-kansas-state-university.

Industry Sees Opportunity with Targeted Grazing

JOHN WALKER, PH.D.
Texas A&M AgriLife

Targeted grazing is becoming an increasingly important sector for the American sheep industry. Recognizing the importance of this segment to the industry, ASI published the first Targeted Grazing Handbook in 2006 (SheepUSA.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Targeted-Grazing-Book-compressed.pdf). Since then, targeted grazing has grown in the number of service providers, acres managed, use by land management agencies and scientific publications on the subject.

Much has been learned as a result of this growth, and because of that ASI is developing a new handbook. The goal of the new handbook is to combine the practical knowledge of producers engaged in the targeted grazing business with the latest research findings, creating a user-friendly guide for people who are new targeted graziers or contemplating starting a targeted grazing business.

To support this effort, a survey and focus group discussions with targeted grazing service providers was conducted during 2021-22. The survey had 101 respondents representing 38 different states and two Canadian provinces. In addition, six virtual focus group discussions – each with 20 or more participants – were held in January and February of this year.

On average, survey respondents’ targeted grazing experience was 8.5 years. While most of the respondents have been providing services for 10 years or less, 23 percent have practiced targeted grazing for more than 10 years and with five respondents have been in business for more than 30 years.

In terms of business opportunity, large full-time operators reported the most growth, while medium and large part-time operations tended to stay about the same size. Participants in focus groups said they had more opportunities than they could handle, indicating the opportunity for growth in the targeted grazing industry is promising.

Forty percent of operations had fewer than 20 animal unit equivalents, which is equivalent to 100 or fewer sheep. Thirty-five percent had 20 to 100 AUE and 25 percent had more than 100 AUE. On average, graziers combined two classes of livestock with the most common being hair sheep and goats.

Forty-seven percent of survey respondents were on paid projects four to five months of the year, but responses varied from only one to two months to more than eight months. Flock size tended to determine how many months were spent on grazing projects. A higher percentage of targeted graziers with large flocks provide services on a full-time basis with targeted grazing as their primary business model. However, there were significant numbers of large flocks that were less than full-time, which likely indicates that commodity production is their primary business model. In comparison, medium and small flock operators were more likely to be half or part-time.

When asked what types of landscapes survey respondents provide services for – private land rural, public land rural, urban rural interface or urban – distribution was fairly even across these disparate areas. On average respondents worked in three of the four areas, which is an indication of their ability to adapt their services to different situations.

Targeted plant species reported included 45 different problematic species. The top 10 species included woody brush and trees, broadleaf weeds, annual grasses, blackberries, thistles, multiflora rose, knapweed, kudzu, pine and leafy spurge. Woody brush and trees were the most common plants targeted grazing was used for.

The types of jobs for which targeted grazing is applied are diverse and graziers report working flocks in multiple settings. The most common targeted grazing projects are directed at controlling invasive plants, forest plantations, fuels management and open space conservation. Landfills and solar grazing projects are becoming more popular. Less well-known areas of application include wildlife habitat improvement and cover crop management, as well as orchards and vineyards. There are a host of other types of projects that primarily deal with cleaning up difficult terrains.

Pricing for services varied considerably. Sixty percent of survey respondents charge per acre for targeted grazing services, followed by per day (30 percent), and other methods (10 percent). The average low price per acre across all animal species was $650 and the average high price was $1,725. The cost varied by species of livestock used with the highest for goats – which are most often used on smaller jobs – and lowest for wool sheep and cattle. These differences – in part – reflect the difference in size of jobs and the different classes of animals. Full-time operators charged on average 45 percent more per acre than half-time operators, which were 40 percent higher than part-time operators. Prices varied regionally as well with Midwest and East Coast states charging the most. Great Plains and Upper Midwest areas charged the least and the Mountain states and West Coast were intermediate.

In targeted grazing, there is a learning curve for both graziers and livestock. On average, the number of months it took for livestock to become proficient at targeted grazing is as follows: sheep, three months; goats slightly more than two months; and cattle one and a half months. It is thought that the type of job might influence the proficiency time. Size of flock also impacts proficiency training with large and small operators reporting longer training than medium-size flocks.

When asked how livestock are kept on projects, almost 80 percent of respondents use electronic fencing. Other responses included permanent fencing, multistrand electrical fence, herders, and panels. The most important health issues that targeted graziers deal with are internal parasites, predation and toxic plants.

Although having a contract with the customer is the norm, it varies somewhat. Only 52 percent of respondents use contracts for most projects and 30 percent use contracts only when the consumer requests a contract. The new handbook will have contract samples. About half of the respondents have specific performance criteria for projects with before and after photos being the most common method for monitoring vegetation.

We can’t talk about the benefits of targeted grazing without addressing the issue of negative publicity. At least 56 percent of respondents know of targeted grazing projects that were done poorly and hurt the reputation of the industry. Thus, the impetus for writing the second edition of the Targeted Grazing Handbook.

The No. 1 response on ways to mitigate negative publicity was to “keep job site and animals in good shape.” Other responses included “talk with people who stop by and are interested in the project,” “engage the press and take interviews,” “train employees in the importance of public relations,” and prepare educational handouts.

There are many factors that targeted graziers consider when deciding whether or not to accept a targeted grazing job. The following concerns are not uncommon.

• The person or organization seeking targeted grazing has unrealistic expectations;

• The job requires more resources than are available;

• There is high potential liability exposure;

• There are conditions that put safety of livestock at risk;

• Grazing might do more damage because the source of the problem (weeds) hasn’t been addressed;

• High level of poisonous plants.

Today, we know much more about targeted grazing from both the scientific perspective and from the practical experience of targeted grazing experts. Advancing the industry from a position of both applied science and from that of the user is worth marketing. It will be fun to see how this eco-friendly livestock application will develop in the next 16 years.

Sheep Producers Return to Nation’s Capital

Legislative fly-ins such as the ASI Spring Trip have been nearly non-existent since March of 2020 when sheep producers were the last ones to visit with congressional delegations before the United States government went into a COVID-19 lockdown. But that drought came to end last month as sheep producers returned to the nation’s capital.

“It was so wonderful to be back in Washington, D.C., this spring,” said ASI President Susan Shultz of Ohio. “Everyone from the agency representatives we met with to Congressional leaders and their staffs seemed happy to see constituents back in town. Visiting our senators and representatives on the Hill is always a highlight, but we were also honored to meet with several government agencies who understand the important role our industry can play reaching the administration’s climate goals.”

U.S. Department of Agriculture Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation Robert Bonnie reiterated his belief that sheep have a positive story to tell about the valuable role they can play in reversing climate change and aiding in wildfire suppression. Janet Bucknall of Wildlife Services once again pledged her agency’s support for dealing with the many predator issues that have always plagued the sheep industry.

“We also heard from Farm Service Administrator Zach Ducheneaux – who we met with at our Executive Board meeting in South Dakota last summer – and he’s another great supporter of the sheep industry,” Shultz said. “We also met with the U.S. Forest Service because the American sheep industry is really at the forefront of targeted grazing, which is so important for their fire suppression and climate change priorities.”

Priorities for sheep producers haven’t changed much since their last visit to Washington, D.C., in 2020. Producers talked with their congressional delegations about such things as: international trade, mandatory price reporting, foreign labor and pharmaceuticals for minor species. At the same time, they were able to thank budget makers for increased support of the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station and Wildlife Services in the most recent appropriations bill that will carry through until the end of the fiscal year.

For the USSES in Dubois, Idaho, the bill contained $4.2 million for improvements to the buildings and facilities, as well as an additional $500,000 in rangeland research funding. The bill also provided additional funding for Wildlife Services, providing $116 million for Wildlife Damage Management and $23 million for Methods Development.

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Equine, Cervid and Small Ruminant Health line item – covering the scrapie surveillance program – was increased to $32 million.

The two-day trip concluded with a reception at The Monocle on March 16 as congressional staffers were treated to an American lamb dinner.

Meet the Exec Board: Bronson Corn

A rancher from New Mexico, Bronson Corn might need a hypnotist of his own to make people forget his remarkable turn as a backup dancer to “Luke Bryan” during the Saturday afternoon lunch at the 2022 ASI Annual Convention in San Diego. As one of a select few volunteers who appeared on stage for the entirety of Dr. Al Snyder’s hypnotist act, Bronson was put through a series of role-playing adventures that had him driving a car, dancing and more. Fortunately, he’s no longer answering calls from his cowboy boot. It was a moment that won’t soon be forgotten, even if Bronson can’t remember a minute of it.

I don’t know how I got roped into that. I hope I don’t ever have to answer that phone call again. I wish there was no such thing as a smartphone, so there wouldn’t be any video or photos of that. At the time, it was kind of like a dream. But then I woke up and it was no longer a dream. Everybody was giving me a hard time. I don’t mind making a fool of myself to get someone else to laugh. I’m absolutely not a dancer. I dance a lot like a whale out of water.

I’m a fifth-generation rancher here in Roswell. I’ve got sheep, cattle and goats and a little feedlot operation. My wife, Barbara, and I have our own operation, but we run all of the sheep together with my dad (Mike Corn is a past president of ASI and owner of Roswell Wool). We run them all as one unit and that way we don’t have to fight as many coyotes with sheep scattered out over so much different country. We like to keep them centralized.

I was president of the New Mexico Wool Growers at the same time that my dad was president of ASI, but I was president for four years. There was another man who was going to take the position but he couldn’t at that time, so they asked if I would stay on for another two-year term. Right here around Roswell used to be the epicenter of the sheep industry, especially the fine-wool sheep industry. Some of the finest wool that has ever been produced was produced right here in Roswell. There’s been a lot of struggles in the sheep industry in New Mexico. The predators have eaten us alive, and that’s caused a lot of people to get out of the industry.

From an economical standpoint, you can’t have a ranch out here and just run cattle on it. And you can’t have a ranch out here and just run sheep on it, either. The terrain of this country is so diverse that the two of them work well together. There’s country here that cattle just can’t graze, and that’s a big part of why I want to stay in the sheep industry. The combination of the two gives you full utilization of the land. And that’s part of why I wanted to be on the ASI Executive Board, so I can promote getting back into the sheep industry in this area. And some actually have. There’s a couple of cattle ranchers down here who are bringing two loads of ewes back into New Mexico on a ranch that ran sheep 20 something years ago and are now getting back into it. So, that gives me hope.

From the time I was a kid, I had a plan to spend two years at New Mexico State University and get an ag economics background, and then transfer over to Texas Christian University’s ranch management program. And that’s what I did. The main reason I wanted to go to New Mexico State for just two years was because I wanted to learn to be more technologically savvy before I went to TCU. That ranch management program is a pretty intense program, so I needed some more experience before I just stepped right into it. It’s a one-year program, but you’re only in the classroom about half the time. The rest of the time, you’re on these field trips going to a bunch of different operations all over the Southwest and nearby states. We went to New Mexico, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and Nebraska. The main things you get out of the program are contacts and knowledge of the economical side of ranching. They don’t teach you the hands-on side of it at all. It’s based on the economic side of ranching. The students already know how to deal with the livestock, but learning the business side is just as important if you’re going to make a living in ranching.

The part that I’m most passionate about and that keeps me going when things seem to be stacked against us is that I want to give my kids (Garrett, 11, and Madison, 8) the opportunity to do what I’m doing. I love everything about what I’m doing – even the stuff that sucks sometimes. When everything is pushing against me, I can’t see myself doing anything different because I believe this is what God made me to do.

Around the States

WYOMING
University Flock Reaches AWA Level III

The University of Wyoming Sheep Program recently became the first operation to reach Level III (Certified) status in ASI’s American Wool Assurance Program.

“We have a 400 head commercial Rambouillet flock and we felt like the AWA Program really aligned with our operation from a teaching and research perspective,” said University of Wyoming Assistant Professor and Extension Sheep Specialist Whit Stewart. “I think that people have a tendency to say, ‘I don’t want someone to tell me what to do,’ but this program allowed us to take a critical look at our enterprise and find ways to improve.”

It also made sense for the university to lead the way for the state’s sheep producers in becoming certified in this voluntary, producer-driven program.

“From the extension side, we’re always trying to educate our producers, and we couldn’t do that as well as we need to if we didn’t go through the process ourselves,” Stewart said. “Helping our producers is a priority of our program.”

The university allowed ASI to test the AWA Program audit instrument at the UW Sheep Unit in late 2021. That audit process was completed recently, and now the university’s wool can be stamped AWA Certified and with the AWA logo. Wool from the university flock is being used to develop value-added product – such as university-branded blankets – and the proceeds from the sale of those products is being invested into the development of other regionally manufactured products.

Graduate student Courtney Newman was instrumental in the certification process and plans to use blockchain technology to source verify not only the university’s wool clip, but also that of other producers across the state.

“ASI would like to congratulate the University of Wyoming for reaching Level III certification,” said ASI Deputy Director Rita Samuelson. “The association also owes the university a debt of gratitude for its assistance in finalizing the audit process that will lead to producers throughout the United States having the opportunity to reach Level II (Process Verified) and Level III (Certified).”

 

VIRGINIA
Mobile Processing Unit Available

Virginia State University’s small ruminant mobile processing unit soon will be operational, and shepherds had an opportunity to tour the unit and watch a fabrication demonstration earlier this year at the Virginia Tech Agriculture Research and Extension Center in Middleburg, Va.

After the demonstration, VSU Cooperative Extension Small Ruminant Specialist Dahlia O’Brien and Wally Brousseau answered questions. Brousseau has joined VSU’s Small Ruminant Extension team as an extension associate and the mobile unit coordinator. Brousseau previously worked for the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services as a consumer safety officer in the Office of Meat and Poultry Inspection, after a retail career that included owning and operating a slaughter and processing facility in Maine.

Those seeking to lease the unit – and their helpers – must complete a five-module certification program. Modules will include unit design and usage, animal harvesting and carcass fabrication, regulations (state and federal), marketing and hands-on training on operating the MPU. More about the online certification program is available at Ext.VSU.edu/mobile-processing-unit.

The cost to lease the unit for four days – you can slaughter and process up to 30 animals during this time – is $100, plus a $15/head unit maintenance fee. The unit comes with everything you need to slaughter and process, including packaging material. When a certified producer leases the unit, Brousseau will drive the unit to the farm/location and be there to assist set-up and breakdown and take it away once the leasing period is finished. He will also be there during all slaughter and processing for any guidance and to complete all paperwork/logs.

The processed meat on the mobile unit can either be done custom – not for sale/home consumption only – or under state or federal inspection, which allows it to be sold at farmers’ markets, retail, across state lines, etc.. Brousseau will also arrange to have an inspector on site if inspected meat is desired.

The unit coordinator also will advise clients on site inspection and permitting requirements to ensure proper disposal of offal.

Source: Maryland Sheep News

 

CALIFORNIA
Ram Sale Set for This month

The California Wool Growers Association is hosting the 102nd Annual California Ram Sale on Saturday, April 9, at the International Agri-Center in Tulare, Calif.
More than 500 rams, including crossbred, composite, Hampshire, Oxford, Suffolk and white-faced rams will be offered from California, Colorado, Nevada, Idaho and Utah.

Ultrasound carcass measurements – i.e. loin eye area – and a Range Ram Index will be provided on all sale rams. The Range Ram Index utilizes ultrasound carcass data collected at the sale and will help to identify the potential genetic merit of those rams in passing superior genetic traits – such as larger loin eye area or heavier carcass weights – into producer flocks.

The ram sale trade show will feature a variety of sheep health and equipment companies showcasing products developed to address sheep production, nutritional and health needs.

Ram Sale information including the sale catalog, schedule, lodging information, directions, etc., is available on the CWGA website at CaliforniaWoolGrowers.org.

To request a sale catalog, contact the CWGA office at 916-444-8122 or info@woolgrowers.org.

Source: CWGA

Obituaries

HUDSON GLIMP, 1937-2022

Hudson Arlyn Glimp of Burnet, Texas, passed away at home after a brief illness on Feb. 4, 2022. Hudson was born in Burnet County on Nov. 22, 1937, to Anne Mae and Arlyn Glimp.

In 1961, he married Shirlie Saylor of Goldthwaite, Texas, and together they raised their two children, Ammie and David. Their life together took them all over the country until Hudson’s retirement in 2005, when he and Shirlie returned to Burnet County.

Hudson had a long and distinguished career as an animal scientist. Helping farmers and ranchers was his passion. After graduating from Burnet High School in 1956, he received his bachelor’s (1960) and master’s degrees (1962) from Texas A&M University. Hudson subsequently earned a doctorate degree from Oklahoma State University in 1965.

His first position after graduate school was as a professor and agricultural extension specialist at the University of Kentucky. From there, he worked for many different organizations. He was a scientist at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center in Nebraska; director of the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station in Idaho; international agricultural development specialist at Winrock International Livestock Research and Training Center in Arkansas; and a researcher and teacher at the University of Nevada-Reno, where he helped develop Rafter 7 Ranch.

During the course of his career, Hudson also owned a farm in Danville, Ky., worked in private industry, and served as a consultant to many governments and international organizations.

He was recognized as an expert in animal nutrition and biotechnology and toward the end of his career advanced our understanding of multi-species grazing systems and arid rangeland management.

Through the years, he and Shirlie made many friends around the country and world. He had a great sense of humor and was an incredibly generous person. He adored his grandkids and children. Hudson loved watching Kentucky Wildcat basketball and Texas A&M football. In his retirement, he was active in the United Methodist Church and Burnet Kiwanis Club.

Hudson is survived by his wife, Shirlie; his children, David Glimp and Lisa Boyle of Louisville, Colo., and Ammie Busby of Leander, Texas; his grandchildren, Genevieve and Dominick Glimp and Jacob and Dorian Busby; his sister and brother-in-law, Lela and Lane Goar; his niece Carolyn Pawalek, nephews Guy and Clay Goar, and their families; his brother-in-law and sisters-in-law, Dana, Monica, Sylvia, Rosaline, and their families; and many friends he has collected through the years.

 

ANGUS MCCOLL, 1928-2022

Angus McColl, 93, passed away Feb. 9, 2022, at Lutheran Medical Center in Wheat Ridge, Colo. He was born Sept. 24, 1928, near Falkirk, Scotland, to Jane (Somerville) McColl and Peter Alexander McColl.

He immigrated to Lander, Wyo., in November of 1954 with his wife, Isobel Blair McColl. He joined the Wyoming National Guard and worked for Robinson Transportation Company before returning to school at the University of Wyoming in Laramie and graduating in 1960 with a degree in animal science.

He was a graduate assistant in wool technology when he took a post as wool specialist for United States Testing Company, located in Denver. He then left U.S. Testing to form his own company and Yocom-McColl Testing Laboratories was formed in 1963 by Angus McColl and Ira Yocom. The company started operation as an independent wool and animal fiber testing laboratory in January 1964, and provided commercial testing for the American wool industry for more than five decades.

Angus retired in 2020, but never lost his passion for new projects.

Survivors include his wife, Margaret; sisters, Sheena (Jerry) Pacheco; Mary Cooke; Christina Darling; extended family in Scotland and England; and his many friends in both the wool industry and the alpaca community. His brother, Thomas McColl, preceded him in death.

Don’t Let Drought Woes Follow You Into 2022

PURINA ANIMAL NUTRITION

Drought was nearly a constant state of being last year, starting in late 2020 and persisting throughout 2021. In fact, 52 percent of the Western United States experienced extreme or exceptional drought as late as mid-October 2021.

While the producers certainly felt the effects of drought in the year behind us, there’s plenty they can do to stop drought’s lingering impact in the new year.

“Offsetting the impacts of drought is really a simple fix,” said Clay Elliott, Ph.D., and small ruminant nutritionist with Purina Animal Nutrition. “It’s a matter of knowing what to look out for and giving your flock or herd a little bit of extra care.”

Here are four potential drought impacts to watch out for and what you can do to reduce their effects.

 

Weaning weights

With drought impacting pasture quality and forage availability in 2021, many ewes and does were thin going into breeding season.

“Ewes and does not in proper body condition during breeding may have had issues in terms of conception on first service,” said Elliott. “Looking ahead to spring, we’re likely going to see more lambs and kids born later than we’re used to.”

Later-born lambs and kids need to play catch-up to reach weaning weights on par with the rest of the flock or herd. Implementing a creep feeding program is helpful to give lambs and kids the extra boost of protein, fat and trace mineral they need for quick, efficient growth.

 

Correct condition

If ewes and does are still under conditioned during gestation, it could impact the development of the growing lambs and kids. Nutrition plays a critical role in fetal programming, or the “prenatal programming” lambs and kids experience in utero that will impact their health for their entire lifespan. Providing ewes and does with adequate nutrition during gestation can help ensure growing babies are properly developed and moms are ready to support lambs and kids after they’re born.

“It’s imperative that once lambs and kids are on the ground, they get quality colostrum from mom,” said Elliott. “But, if ewes and does are nutritionally deprived during gestation, you could see an exponential effect on those babies due to lack of quality colostrum.”

Use a body condition score chart for sheep and goats to identify if extra nutrition, such as a mineral or protein supplement, is needed.

 

Forage financials

According to the National Drought Mitigation Center, the percentage of alfalfa hay acreage affected by drought in 2021 was the largest in the past decade.

These poor growing conditions will have a domino effect into 2022. Not only will most of the forage quality be low, but the cost of purchasing high-quality hay is also currently off the charts and will likely remain high.

“Supplementing low-quality hay with a high-fat block product will help keep ewes and does in good condition without having to sacrifice financially to buy high-quality hay,” said Elliott. “It’s a win-win situation.”

Purina Accuration Sheep & Goat Hi-Fat Block is ideal coming out of a drought because it’s designed to offset low protein levels in forages or grass and provides added fat to help maintain body condition.

 

Missing minerals

“Ewes and does are likely already deficient in vitamins and minerals due to eating drought-impacted pasture much of last year,” said Elliott. “And, this deficiency will continue as forages grown during the drought will also lack proper levels of vitamins and minerals.”

Feeding free-choice mineral with 90 percent or greater bioavailability is recommended year-round to keep a consistent level of nutrition and to proactively mitigate impacts from drought or other unexpected challenges. If you aren’t already, start feeding a mineral high in calcium and other trace minerals now to support growing lambs and kids during gestation.

Taking small steps now to offset the impacts of drought in your flock or herd will go a long way to a successful year ahead.

Visit PurinaMills.com to learn more.

Preparation More Important Than Ever for American Wool

I did my taxes recently and was surprised by a decent bill from the U.S. government. Turns out, I hadn’t adjusted my withholding to account for some changes in my finances in the past year. As a result, I scrambled to make adjustments that would put me closer to the break-even point – which is where I like to be – when I file my 2022 taxes next spring.

As producers around the country are shearing and selling their wool this spring, now is the perfect time to look at adjustments you might need to make in order to maximize profits from your wool clip. If you wait a few months – like I did with my tax adjustments in 2021 – chances are you’ll forget about it altogether over the summer and fall – again, like I did – and you’ll be in for some surprises next year at this time. After all, quality wool production starts with genetic selection and how sheep are raised, and carries through to the moment they are shorn and all the way until shearing the next year.

One thing that shouldn’t come as a surprise to producers is increased transportation costs. With soaring gas prices, labor shortages in the shipping industry and congestion at ports across the globe, there are plenty of extra costs involved with shipping American wool in 2022. We can all hope that many of these issues will be resolved by next year, but there’s no guarantee of that at this point. You’ll most likely have no way to control these costs, but you can plan for them.

“While nothing has changed in our fees, the big variable is transportation,” said Larry Prager of Center of the Nation Wool in Belle Fourche, S.D. “Who knows where the cost of freight is going? But it probably won’t go down anytime soon. We were already seeing fuel surcharges. We sell most of our wool by private treaty, and that generally includes delivery to the East Coast or Texas. It’s a good time to have a friend in the trucking industry.”

Keep in mind that other fees will apply, as well. Coring/testing charges and warehouse/buyer fees will also play into the economics of selling your wool.

Generally, growers can expect the equation to look something like this:

Grease Price X Yield – Handling Costs = Clean Price

Deductions might also be factored in for short or stained wool and contamination by things such as colored fibers, paint brands or polypropylene. Well-prepared wools are still selling well, despite under performing manufacturing as the world looks to snap out of a COVID-19-induced funk and get back to full-scale operations in everything from meat to automobile to textile production. But coarser, contaminated and lesser-quality wools are facing even more difficulties than in the past.

“Wools with poor yields, dust and high-vegetable matter were still exported in the past, but now they’re getting passed over,” Prager said. “Quality is an even bigger issue now than it was a year ago. A major factor is that we still have a lot of 2020 and 2021 wool out there. There’s lots of wool in storage. And with the drought that we’ve been in around much of the country, I think yields are going to be down.

“This is a market where the grower needs to take responsibility for the preparation of the wool clip,” Prager said. “Shearing is a day where you can make a big difference in quality with just a little extra preparation.”

While preparation won’t help you fine up your wool clip, it can greatly increase the yield. Minimizing contaminants is certainly a key element of preparing your sheep for shearing – minimizing hair and dark fiber, as well as foreign contaminants. Sorting sheep by wool type and/or breed before shearing and then packaging those wools separately is just as important. Simple steps such as keeping the shearing floor clean throughout the day’s work can also make a big difference. Separating out tags/bellies, skirting and classing fleeces also allows producers to package their best quality wool together, and leads to a better return on the wool clip.

This isn’t anything new for producers. Many of you are already taking these steps and more to prepare your wool clips in a responsible manner. But it’s worth noting that these steps have become even more important in recent years as a lag in manufacturing left companies needing less wool. And lower demand means you need to take every possible step to make your wool clip stand out in a crowded marketplace.

ASI offers a variety of resources in this area for producers. Visit SheepUSA.org/researcheducation-woolquality to learn more. Producers can also use the ASI Market News app to check current wool prices and use the wool calculator to estimate what their wool might sell for in current conditions.

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