- December 2021
Susan Shultz, ASI President
Season Greetings to each of you. This is an exciting time of the year not only because we are looking forward to the holiday season but because plans are underway for our in-person ASI Annual Convention to be held in San Diego on Jan. 19-22, 2022.
The convention is a tremendous opportunity to greet old friends, meet new producers, and glean new information about our industry. The event draws the entire sheep industry together from producers to feeders to lamb packers. On the wool side, wool warehouses, wool textile mills and pelt processors are also represented. Every national and state organization is involved, as it is truly a collaborative effort hosted by ASI. This is the event where we conduct our business meetings and policy forums that provide direction to our organizations for the upcoming year. We also say “thank you” to our well-deserved award recipients.
Each day is jam packed with educational opportunities to learn more about our premier protein and premier fiber – lamb and wool – plus receive updates on current issues affecting our industry. Consumers at every level are interested in knowing about the products they consume and are appreciating the importance of animal welfare and traceability.
ASI is proud to be one of the first livestock groups to develop animal care guidelines and those guidelines have evolved to become the American Wool Assurance standards for wool. Attendees at convention can participate in learning sessions about this science-based, voluntary program that will allow growers to share how they can provide assurances of using best practices in the care and welfare of their sheep to their wool processors and consumers.
The keynote speaker at convention will be Dr. Frank Mitloehner, an animal science professor and air quality specialist at the University of California-Davis. Dr. Mitloehner specializes in the measurement and mitigation of airborne pollutants from livestock production and will discuss the current challenges.
ASI recently funded the development of the Secure Sheep and Wool Supply Plan to help producers protect their flocks from a foot and mouth disease outbreak.
Training will be offered on Wednesday of the convention to producers to help them prepare a continuity of business plan affected by movement restrictions during an outbreak in the United States. These hands-on sessions are limited and require pre-registration.
A special opportunity this year will be the collaborative effort by the ASI Genetic Stakeholders Committee, the National Sheep Improvement Program and Sheep Genetics USA to provide an in-depth forum on the current state of sheep genetics in the United States. A variety of robust sessions will be offered throughout the day on Thursday. Details on the wide selection of forums, speakers and council and committee meeting agendas are regularly updated and can be found at SheepUSA.org. Look for more information on page 18 of this issue.
In past years, one highlight of our convention was the popular industry tour that took participants to visit sheep ranches and associated businesses in the area. This year will be no different as the ASI Imperial Valley Industry Tour along with a San Diego Harbor Cruise and a San Diego Old Town Trolley Tour are all available options. The Make It With Wool contest will return again this year with wonderful examples of working with our premier fiber through a lively fashion show and banquet.
In closing, I hope you will consider supporting the RAMS PAC reception and auction on Friday evening through either the donation of an item or active bidding. RAMS PAC is critical to our success on the policy front in Washington, D.C., as it is a proven way for us to support members of Congress and candidates that support our sheep and wool industry.
On behalf of the ASI officer team, we hope to see you in San Diego.
JULIE STEPANEK SHIFLETT, PH.D.
Juniper Economic Consulting
This holiday season, there will likely be continued strong demand at retail with more consumers buying a greater range of cuts and stronger demand for high-end meat items such as prime rib, ribeyes, pork roast, seafood and lamb, according to 210 Analytics in early November.
Anne-Marie Roerink, president of 210 Analytics, reported in The Food Institute that rising supply constraints and rising input prices might put at risk the supply of turkeys, ham or rack of lamb. Roerink added that the proteins are feeling the effects of COVID-19, labor shortages, transportation issues, lack of packing materials and higher feed costs.
As winter approaches, the lamb industry is revealing continued tight supplies in higher slaughter lamb and meat prices, but signs of a new normal are emerging as feedlot inventories build, live weights gain at harvest, and weekly harvest begins to increase seasonally.
ASI Executive Director Peter Orwick explained in AgWeek in early November that the “lamb market is on fire” and that due to a COVID-prompted demand expansion, “people are going further and further into the meat case, with people giving lamb a try for the first time, and those that have tried it, coming back.”
Domestic Production Down; Imports Up
Domestic lamb production has contracted this year while imports have expanded. In the first 42 weeks of the year, estimated federally inspected lamb harvest was 1.46 million head, up 0.2 percent year-on-year. Estimated lamb production was 67.41 million lbs., down 3 percent from the same period last year due to lighter harvest weights.
The industry appears to be in a good position to fulfill its holiday orders this year. Late October saw an uptick in weekly harvest numbers as the industry gears up for the December holidays and Easter 2022. Colorado feedlots gained volume in October to a four-year high in preparation for the December holidays and Easter. In October, Colorado feedlots reported 270,104 head, a 4 percent gain monthly and 19 percent higher year-on-year.
Estimated mature sheep harvest was 116,864 head in 2021 through October, up 27 percent year-on-year, and estimated mutton production was five million lbs., up 22 percent.
The industry remains relatively current with historically low freezer inventory. Lamb and mutton freezer inventory is about half of the record highs observed in early 2016. Cold storage stocks were 23.4 million lbs. in early November, up 6 percent monthly and down 24 percent year-on-year.
Beginning in 2015, lamb imports gained year-over-year for five consecutive years, but then declined by two percent in 2020. In that year, imports were impacted by the pandemic related impacts on foodservice. If fourth quarter lamb imports keep pace with 2020’s volume, then this year will see a 20 percent annual gain in lamb imports with lamb imports up 17 and 30 percent, respectively, from Australia and New Zealand.
Total lamb imports were 198.8 million lbs. in January to September, up 28 percent year-on-year. Lamb imports from Australia were up 24 percent to 147.7 million lbs. and New Zealand lamb imports were up 44 percent at 48.2 million lbs.
Lamb exports were down January to September by 34 percent to 271,000 lbs. Mutton exports were down 88 percent in this period to 2.1 million lbs. Total exports were down 86 percent year-on-year.
Feeder Lambs Strengthen at Auction
Sixty- to 90-lb. feeders at auction averaged $262.48 per cwt. in October, up 1 percent monthly and up 32 percent year-on-year. Feeders in San Angelo, Texas, averaged $276.38 per cwt., up 2 percent monthly; feeders in Fort Collins, Colo., saw $254.05 per cwt., 3 percent higher monthly; and in Sioux Falls, S.D., feeders averaged $257.03 per cwt., weakening by 1 percent.
At the Equity Cooperative Sheep and Lamb Video/Internet Auction, 90-lb. lambs in the North Central region sold for an average of $249.25 per cwt.
Slaughter Lamb Market Softened
Live, negotiated slaughter lambs averaged $241.18 per cwt. in October, down 3 percent monthly and up 43 percent year-on-year. Average harvest weight of live, negotiated lambs was 145.70 lbs., up 4 percent monthly and up 3 percent from a year ago.
Wooled and shorn slaughter lambs at auction saw mixed movement in October, yet held at 37 percent higher year-on-year. For an average 100 to 150-lb. lamb at San Angelo, slaughter lambs sold for an average $210.15 per cwt., up 1 percent monthly. Fort Collins saw $200.70 per cwt., down 9 percent monthly, and Sioux Falls averaged $230.12 per cwt., down 5 percent monthly.
Equity Cooperative Sheep and Lamb Video/Internet Auction sold about 600 slaughter lambs in the North Central U.S. at an average of $221.00 per cwt. for 140 to 160 lbs.
Slaughter hair lambs at the New Holland, Penn., auction lost about 1 percent in October monthly and were 22 percent higher year-on-year for 70 to 100-lb. lambs. Seventy- to 80-lb. hair lambs received $276.96 per cwt., 80 to 90-lb. lambs saw $260.13 per cwt., and 90 to 100-lb. lambs averaged $257.96 per cwt.
Hair sheep prices at New Holland were roughly on par with wooled lambs as values ranged from 94 to 101 percent of comparable wooled lambs.
Wholesale Lamb Remains Strong
The lamb cutout value averaged $693.11 per cwt. in October, up 1 percent monthly and 58 percent higher year-on-year. Among lamb primals, the rack and the leg saw the greatest monthly gain at 2 percent, while the shoulder weakened by 2 percent and the loin held steady.
The rack, 8-rib medium, averaged $1,435.95 per cwt., the loin, trimmed 4×4, averaged $1,050 per cwt., the leg, trotter-off, saw $613.29 per cwt., and the shoulder, square-cut, averaged $539.73 per cwt.
According to Midland Marketing in October, about half of lamb consumers choose the lamb loin to cook at home. However, the loin’s COVID-19 boom could be slowing. Since August, when the loin topped $1,000 per cwt. its weekly gain has slowed.
In October, the reinstated weighted average lamb carcass price averaged $533.94 per cwt. across all weight classes. The carcass report has not been reported since early 2017 due to confidentiality concerns. In early 2017, the weighted average carcass price averaged $234 per cwt.
Lamb Consumer Speak Out
The Midland Marketing report in October to the American Lamb Board holds insights for expanded American demand growth.
The report revealed that lamb’s price is a concern among lamb consumers. Nearly half of consumers say lowering package prices would encourage them to purchase more lamb. Further, 50 to 60 percent of the less frequent lamb consumers cite “lamb is too expensive” as a barrier to buying more lamb.
Price is the largest barrier to moderate and light lamb purchasers. Fifty to 60 percent of light and moderate lamb consumers report lamb is too expensive. Lower package prices was cited by about half of those lamb consumers unlikely to choose lamb.
A concern over less competitive pricing coupled with observations over country of origin mean that selling American’s lamb story might not be as effective to promoting American lamb demand as once thought. Instead, lamb’s quality, consistency and convenience might be more important demand drivers.
The research revealed that the heavy lamb consumers are not choosing American lamb. Fifty-two percent of all domestic lamb consumers surveyed say they are aware of the country their lamb is from, and 38 percent do not know. Seventy-eight percent of heavy lamb consumers report knowing the country of origin, and yet, 46 percent of this group of consumers prefer lamb from other countries. Further inspection reveals that heavy lamb consumers are 71 percent male and eating more of all proteins, coined “Protein Progressives.”
The timing of the consumer survey in August 2021 might reflect a back-to-basics mentality of enjoying meat brought about by COVID-19. This might explain why demand attributes such as local, animals humanly- and environmentally-sustainably raised received lower marks. It is recommended that the same metrics surveyed in August are tracked closely in future research.
In 2015, lamb imports passed the 50 percent market share point of total United States lamb availability: half of the available lamb was domestic, the rest was imported. In 2019, that share edged passed 55 percent, closer to 60 percent in 2020 and is estimated to top 65 percent in 2021.
The survey results suggest that country of origin is not enough to differentiate and promote American lamb. Consumers want flavor, quality and value. It would be interesting to see whether retail scanner data differentiated by country of origin could help define the determinants of American versus imported lamb in order to improve targeted marketing.
Coarser Wools See Some Lift
The Australian Eastern Market Indicator averaged Australian 1,340 cents per kg clean in October, down 1 percent monthly and up 22 percent year-on-year. In U.S. dollars, the EMI posted $4.48 per lb. clean, down one-third a percent monthly and up 26 percent from a year ago.
While the EMI rebounded from COVID-19 – its October average was 95 percent of its October 2019 value. The EMI in U.S. dollars remains 26 percent lower than its October 2018 value.
In the first week of November, while all other microns dropped week-to-week, the 26 micron crossbred Australian wool saw a lift at auction. Broad crossbred lost about half of its value since 2019. According to Australian Farm Online National in early November, the crossbred sector in Australia’s wool market bounced back strongly from a 12-month low, with reports indicating that demand for wool to be used in Chinese uniform orders was the driver. China ordered wool for its uniforms with the intent of blending medium Merino and finer crossbred.
“These micron categories have been extremely cheap in relation to the medium/fine Merino categories and also offer the prospect of delivering hard wearing cloth,” Farm Online reported.
Australia classifies crossbred wool as 25 to 32 micron.
The Australian EMI for wool is forecast to average 1,390 cents per kilogram clean for Australia’s 2021-22 season, up 16 percent from 2020-21, according to the Australian Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment in September. ABARES reported that the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, strong global economic growth and higher oil prices are expected to drive demand for natural fibers in 2022. Stronger prices in the spring of 2022 would be beneficial to help move the carryover stocks of wool remaining on American farms.
Director of Analytics & Production Programs
The experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic provided a glimpse of what could occur to the livestock industry if Foot and Mouth Disease were to infect American sheep, cattle, pigs or goats.
This contagious animal disease would stop movement of susceptible livestock and products, consumer confidence would falter and export markets for American sheep, lamb and wool would close immediately. As a result, producers would face a substantial risk of lost revenue and uncertainty of their business.
While FMD is not a food safety or public health concern, the response would have a significant long-term impact on sheep producers and industry stakeholders to operate during an outbreak. In such an event, maintaining business continuity for the sheep and wool industry is critical for industry sustainability, food security, and animal health and well-being.
Luckily, the United States has not had a case of FMD since 1929 and it is difficult to imagine this devastating disease arriving in the U.S. However, with global travel and trade, the risk of an FMD outbreak exists. Just recently, African Swine Fever quickly spread to the Dominican Republic and Haiti, the first time in 40 years this devastating swine disease has appeared in the Western Hemisphere.
Recognizing the need to help producers protect their flocks and minimize the effects on the sheep industry from an FMD outbreak, ASI exclusively funded the development of the Secure Sheep and Wool Supply Plan (SecureSheepWool.org) in 2020. The plan is designed to help producers and allied industries get back to business sooner during an FMD outbreak while maintaining the supply of meat and wool products to consumers.
In 2021, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service partnered with ASI to develop new outreach materials. The goal is to increase awareness of the SSWS Plan among producers and stakeholders, such as university extension personnel and veterinarians. The Guide to the Secure Sheep and Wool Supply Plan included with this issue of the Sheep Industry News is one of the many new materials developed.
Additional materials include: informative presentations; narrated videos that can be played at producer meetings; biosecurity and disease monitoring training materials for producers, shearers and handlers; outreach articles for producer publications; and the importance and process for acquiring premises identification numbers.
All of these materials are available under the new Training Materials section at SecureSheepWool.org.
Workshops & Trainings
To further expand awareness about the SSWS Plan, ASI is hosting engaging producer and stakeholder training sessions.
During the ASI Annual Convention, two interactive SSWS Plan Protecting Your Flock Workshops will be offered. Producers will learn what might happen in an FMD outbreak and how to prepare to protect their flock using the SSWS Plan resources.
Producers should bring a map of their farm, including pasture ground or public lands where sheep might graze throughout the year. Also, bring a list of the common movements that need to happen to keep their business operating, and a growth mindset to learn from the trainer and their peers. The two sessions will be on Jan. 19, 2022, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Interested producers must register to participate and space is limited. There is no cost to participate.
In addition, ASI is hosting a train-the-trainer session with state association executives, university extension personnel and industry leaders on the SSWS Plan. These individuals will get a preview of the many resources available to help producers develop contingency and biosecurity plans to protect their flocks from FMD. These SSWS Plan trainers will learn how to develop engaging meetings and trainings for producers in their state or region.
The training sessions will be led by Dr. Danelle Bickett-Weddle, who worked with ASI in developing the SSWS Plan and materials. Bickett-Weddle has led training sessions for producers and stakeholders on all of the Secure Food Supply Plans. Attendees often note how engaging she is and take home new ideas for contingency plans that work for their operations.
Funding for the trainings was made possible, in part, by USDA/APHIS.
If you’ve tried to buy just about anything in the past year, you’ve probably gotten a first-hand look at the supply chain issues that are plaguing the United States.
From vehicle and tractor parts to electric fence and labor, it seems that nearly everything is affected by the supply chain dilemma.
“Companies around the world are battling supply chain bottlenecks as a post-pandemic spike in demand converges with industrial production struggling to catch up after lengthy COVID-19-induced shutdowns,” read a story on CNBC.com.
Unfortunately, short-term solutions to the problem are few and far between as empty store shelves and back-ordered websites become the norm.
In the same story, Siemens Energy CEO Christian Bruch told CNBC, the industrial world is going to be dealing with this “for quite some time. It is going to be way into 2022 and honestly, my belief is managing the supply chain will be something which will be with us for a long time.”
The American sheep industry isn’t immune from the issue. Producers, packers, wool warehouses and others across the United States are reporting difficulty in acquiring everything from fencing and vehicle parts to labor and shipping challenges. And even if they can find a way to acquire the needed materials, there’s no doubt it will cost more.
“We’re trying hard to make lemonade out of lemons, but there’s so much that is out of our control right now,” said Premier 1 Supplies CEO and General Manager Ben Rothe. “Keeping products in stock has been a challenge all year long. That can lead to frustrated customers.
“We’re trying to keep our stock updated on the website and let customers know about delays when they occur. I like to think things will be back to normal by 2023, but I didn’t think it would last even this long. Our suppliers are saying it will be at least the middle of 2022, and maybe 2023.”
Congestion at the nation’s ports has slowed the influx of products manufactured overseas. And even once they arrive, there’s a shortage of truck drivers needed to deliver those products and parts throughout the United States.
“One bottleneck causes many downstream ripples,” Rothe added.
Double J Lamb’s Jeff Hasbrouck had enough on his plate trying to re-open a deserted Texas lamb plant in the middle of a global pandemic, but the supply chain issues have made it difficult to acquire everything from fabricating tables to plastic wrap necessary to sustain the continued expansion of the long shuttered plant.
“It’s definitely put us behind by a couple of months,” he said. “We were hoping to have the fabricating operation running in the spring, but we finally got it going the last week of October. A lot of the equipment was made in Greeley (Colorado), but the fab tables are made from stainless steel, which isn’t easy to get right now. And the company had some labor issues. Everything just takes longer and costs more right now.”
The company’s Ault, Colo., based feedlot operation has also had to cast a wider net for simple things such as oil filters for vehicles and tractor parts.
“But help is the No. 1 issue,” Hasbrouck said, adding that includes on the feedlot and in the form of truckers to haul feed from Nebraska or to drive lamb carcases from the Texas plant out to the East Coast.
Tom Grommus of Wool Sacks was a bit more upbeat than most, saying the company had been fortunate to plan ahead for delays and felt confident with the number of both nylon and burlap bags it had distributed to wool warehouses around the United States. New supplies were scheduled to arrive around the first of the year.
“If there are some delays, we’ve got enough supply to get the shearing season started,” he said. “Ninety percent of American wool ends up in the nylon sacks, so they are important. But the burlap is important too because that’s usually how it gets from the rancher to the wool warehouse. We started talking to our suppliers in China pretty early.”
Unfortunately, Grommus received news of expected delays just a day after being interviewed for this story.
“We’re not out of the woods yet,” he said. “But we’re not in the same position that some people are in. We do have a good amount of bags in the U.S. from past orders, so we should be safe.”
ASI Executive Director Peter Orwick said this isn’t an issue the sheep industry – or any industry for that matter – can solve on its own. ASI has filed comments with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service concerning supply chain issues and is working with the agency and congressional leaders to search for answers to the situation.
In the meantime, planning and patience are key in dealing with the ongoing problem.
Check out the American wool gift guide and you won’t need to worry about shipping container delays, international manufacturing issues or what the big box stores might already be out of — because our gift guide offers products from brands and companies that rely on stateside manufacturing using American-grown wool for everyone on your “nice” list. For many, gifting in 2021 has grown beyond just an act of love on special occasions to one of empathy and a way to bridge the physical distance caused by quarantine and the celebrations missed during the past 18 months. Take this opportunity to bring smiles to the faces of your loved ones and support everyone in the American wool industry.
Click Here to see the gift guide items.
Dr. Frank Mitloehner
Thursday Opening Session
Dr. Frank Mitloehner is a professor and air quality specialist in cooperative extension in the Department of Animal Science at the University of California-Davis. As such, he shares his knowledge and research – both domestically and abroad – with students, scientists, farmers and ranchers, policy makers, and the public at large. Mitloehner is also director of the CLEAR Center, which has two cores – research and communications. The CLEAR Center brings clarity to the intersection of animal agriculture and the environment, helping a global community understand the environmental and human health impacts of livestock, so consumers can make informed decisions about the foods they eat while reducing environmental impacts.
He is committed to making a difference for generations to come. As part of his position with UC-Davis and Cooperative Extension, he collaborates with the animal agriculture sector to create better efficiencies and mitigate pollutants. He is passionate about understanding and mitigating air emissions from livestock operations, as well as studying the implications of these emissions on the health of farm workers and neighboring communities. In addition, he is focusing on the food production challenge that will become a global issue as the world’s population grows to nearly 10 billion by 2050.
Mitloehner received a masters degree in animal science and agricultural engineering from the University of Leipzig, Germany, and a doctoral degree in animal science from Texas Tech University.
Dr. Al Snyder
Saturday Entertainment Lunch
A veterinarian with a diverse background in working with people and animals, Dr. Snyder puts on a performance that combines humor and motivation into an action-packed session. Audience participation is the key to his successful presentations as he involves members of the audience in all aspects of the show.
His sincerity and enthusiasm – combined with his ability to relate to any age group – make his shows a hit with any audience. He often calls upon his experience as a veterinarian to add spice to his programs. With a masterful blend of traditional stage hypnosis and creative new material, he keeps audiences on the edge of their chairs laughing until their sides hurt throughout the program. He has done nearly 1,500 shows and performed for nearly a half million people throughout the United State for groups ranging in size from a hundred to more than 6,000. Hypnosis shows have been around for decades, but Snyder brings new life into an old profession. He helps people pull from the inner strength of their minds to accomplish greater things.
As a youth, he spent his summers on a family cattle and sheep ranch homesteaded by his great grandparents. After attending the University of Wyoming and majoring in psychology and education, he went on the Colorado State University where he received his doctorate in veterinary medicine. He practiced veterinary medicine in mixed animal practices in Wyoming, Nebraska and Montana.
Imperial Valley Industry Tour, Jan. 19,
5:45 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.: $150 per person
The Imperial Valley is among the nation’s top sheep and lamb producing counties with more than 100,000 sheep passing through the county each year. This full-day tour offers an opportunity to see lambs grazing the valley during the winter months. The tour includes visits to Doc’s Organics – an exclusively organic citrus packing facility – and Planters Hay – a full-service, grower-owned compress facility marketing hay and straw commodities.
Minimum: 50 / Maximum: 100 people
San Diego Harbor Cruise, Jan. 20,
12:15 – 2:30 p.m.: $100 per person
See the sights of San Diego aboard a modern yacht with a local expert tour guide. The yacht has indoor and outdoor seating with views of the city, Coronado Bridge, military ships and marine life.
Minimum: 20 / Maximum: 35 people
San Diego Old Town Trolley Tour, Jan. 21,
1:45 – 4:15 p.m.: $110 per person
This fully narrated, historic tour highlights 26 miles and more than 100 San Diego attractions. The tour includes Old Town, Embarcadero, Seaport Village, Gaslamp Quarter, Coronado, Balboa Park, San Diego Zoo and Little Italy. This tour combines colorful anecdotes, humorous stories and historical information.
Minimum: 25 / Maximum: 35 people
A fifth-generation sheep producer who guided her children and now grandchildren into the industry, Anne Builta Crider was influenced by her first trip to the ASI Annual Convention “years and years ago.” The family’s diverse operation includes sheep, cattle, grain farming, as well as a small business known as Corner Post Farm. CPF offers a number of specialized agricultural gifts and essentials, including many items featuring sheep. From the farm shop to attending agricultural events, Anne was recently found manning the store at Kentucky’s North American International Livestock Exposition.
WE LIVE IN CENTRAL ILLINOIS, where land is ideal for grain farming. We are fortunate to have pasture on our farms, and pasture rental. We have a few Columbias and Romneys, as well as a commercial meat flock. We run 70 to more than 100 ewes along with 20 purebred Angus cows. Our grain operation includes white and yellow corn and seed soybeans. The corn is grown for Frito Lay and other companies.
Crider Farms is a family operation. Along with my husband, Dan, and I, our operation includes our children and their families. Jason and his family have a Pioneer Seed operation, work with the cattle and raise sweet corn. Christopher is in management for a financial institution, and his family works with the sheep and sells lamb meat off the farm. Our daughter, Rachel, and her husband live in Germany. But Rachel is known to come home for weeks at a time to help with farm work. We all work together in the operation and help each other out.
We sell some of our quality fleeces to weavers and knitters. The remainder of our fleeces are sold to a local shearer.
I started Corner Post Farm out with mostly sheep items in 2009. As I picked up a few events that included other farm animals and farm equipment, my inventory diversified. Some of my quality product line includes pelts, wool dusters, sweaters and socks, books, plush, greeting cards, baby clothes and furniture. Engraving in wood and glass and some painting are a part of my custom work. The business connects me with sheep people all over the country, and there are no better people than sheep people.
I went to my first ASI meeting in San Antonio years ago, and I’ve been attending every since. Being involved with ASI has been filled with good experiences. I was asked what I wanted to get out of my experience as a regional director. I feel it is not what I get out of the position but what I do, as I have tried to do by being on Legislative Council and the Production, Education and Research Council, and passing on the information to the states I represent. The goal of promoting wool and lamb touches many facets of the industry, and I want ASI to continue improving and moving forward into a positive future.
Clay Elliott, Ph.D.
Purina Animal Nutrition
Pregnancy loss in sheep can be caused by a variety of reasons – infection, disease, genetics, environmental conditions and stress, to name a few. Some of these factors are outside of your control. However, one factor you can control is nutrition.
Proper nutrition during gestation can go a long way in helping to maintain healthy pregnancies. If ewes receive the proper amounts of mineral, especially vitamin E and selenium, it can head off a cascade of issues, which could ultimately result in pregnancy loss.
Fat and protein in the diet are also crucial during gestation. A high-fat supplement helps maintain body condition in ewes and provides the nutrients and energy needed to support the ewe and the growing lambs.
Help reduce the risk of pregnancy loss and deliver more lambs this spring with these nutrition tips.
Never too late to start feeding mineral
If you aren’t already feeding a mineral to your spring-lambing flocks, it’s not too late to start. Ewes need the most support entering the third trimester. Seventy-five percent of all fetal growth happens during this time, putting a nutritional strain on the ewe.
One of the most critical nutrients is calcium. A high-calcium mineral might help reduce the risk of hypocalcemia, which can occur in the third trimester when the lamb’s bones are growing rapidly. Without enough calcium to support bone growth and the ewe’s own needs, she can become ketotic, resulting in potential pregnancy loss and – in extreme cases – ewe death.
The benefits of feeding supplemental calcium also carry over to lambing. Calcium plays a role in cervical dilation and smooth muscle contractions – both critical to a successful birth. Calcium deficiencies could cause complications during lambing or weak lambs that don’t want to get up and nurse. You could spend an entire gestation feeding the ewe and growing lamb, just to lose it at lambing because of a lack of calcium. Calcium supplementation is a simple insurance policy and a smart investment.
Gold standard nutrition program
Feeding a free-choice mineral year-round helps ensure ewes are continually receiving the nutrition they need. It also avoids playing catch-up during critical times like gestation.
Mark your calendar now for next breeding season. At a minimum, start mineral 60 days before breeding and continue feeding throughout gestation. Feeding a high-fat block supplement during this same timeframe might also help maintain ewe body condition.
When choosing a mineral, a true difference-maker is bioavailability, or the ability for the ewe to absorb the minerals. Look for a mineral with at least 70 to 80 percent bioavailability to ensure you get the most bang for your buck.
Safeguard your investment
Percent lamb crop directly correlates to the profitability of your business. The average pregnancy loss rate is 2 percent. Anything more could cut into your profit margin and should raise red flags that your nutrition program might be lacking.
Maintaining healthy pregnancies throughout gestation helps deliver a return on investment from breeding season, avoids wasting dollars feeding open ewes and boosts percent lamb crop. This is especially important in a year where you could see lower lambing rates or a smaller number of twins and triplets due to drought conditions like we saw earlier this year.
If nutrition is firing on all cylinders, ewes should be well taken care of and can reward you with an optimized lamb crop. You might also have higher numbers of healthy lambs that get up and take colostrum. From there, the risk of mortality drops.
Take control of your lamb crop numbers by working with your local nutritionist.
Director of Analytics & Production Programs
While many discussions surrounding sheep genetics mention importing genetics from other countries, there are opportunities for American sheep producers to export their genetics to producers in other countries looking to integrate favorable traits into their flocks.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is the competent authority for animal health, and works with exporters to ensure all animals – including germplasm – meet the requirements of the importing country prior to export.
The exportation of sheep (live, embryos and semen) involves several components that might differ depending on the importing country requirements. For example, Canada permits breeding ewes only if they originate from a premise enrolled in the Scrapie Flock Certification Program that is determined to be a “negligible risk premise.”
Specific country requirements for the export of sheep from the United States can be found on the USDA website, International Regulations for Animal Export. Country requirements can change frequently, so it is highly encouraged and recommended that producers review the IREGS website in advance of any export shipment. If there are additional questions regarding a country’s import requirements, producers can contact the USDA/APHIS Veterinary Services Service Center for their area.
The process for exporting live breeding sheep, embryos or semen can take weeks to months depending on the requirements. For example, some countries require an isolation or quarantine period with health inspections conducted within a specific period while other countries may not require a quarantine period. Veterinarians are key to the export process and should be contacted early on.
All exports of live breeding sheep from the United States require an international health certificate, which must be completed by an accredited veterinarian. The international health certificate is an official document that attests to the animal’s health status. It confirms all necessary testing and treatment is completed in accordance with the importing country requirements for the individual animals being exported. After the accredited veterinarian has signed the health certificate, it must also be endorsed by APHIS.
The international health certificate is not considered valid until it has been reviewed and endorsed by APHIS. Country specific health certificates, information on how to submit certificates for APHIS endorsement and associated APHIS fees can also be found on the IREGS website.
There are companies that offer consulting services to assist with exporting live breeding sheep, embryos or semen. The Livestock Exporters Association provides a list of companies that offer such services for those producers wanting to work with an exporting company.
Producers should expect to encounter potential challenges, delays and increased costs related to the logistics of the export process due to the ongoing pandemic environment. Any producers looking to export live breeding sheep, embryos or semen should have a thorough understanding of the importing country’s requirements and contact USDA for assistance.
For information on exporting breeding sheep, embryos or semen visit the USDA/APHIS website at APHIS.USDA.gov/aphis/ourfocus/animalhealth/export/iregs-for-animal-exports.
Clements Honored as Master Producer
The South Dakota Master Lamb Producers Association has recognized excellence in sheep production and management by innovative producers for more than four decades. After a 2020 gap year, South Dakota State University Small Ruminant Extension Specialist Kelly Froehlich was able to award two South Dakota producers at the 84th South Dakota Sheep Growers Annual Convention in Pierre, S.D., this year.
The 2021 Master Lamb Producer recognized in the Purebred Division was Shady Lane Farms from Redfield, S.D., and the Feeder Lamb Producer Division recognized Pam and Steve Clements and family from Philip, S.D.
The Clements Ranch is a third-generation ranch owned by Pam and Steve Clements. Along with their family, the Clements raise 300 Targhee-based ewes in Philip, S.D.
The flock is focused on maternal traits and features a quality wool clip that has been previously sold to the United States military for uniforms, as well as Faribault Woolen Mills. All of the ewes are bred to a terminal sire, and lambs are raised on well-managed grasslands and sold as feeders.
The Clements have also been highly involved in the sheep industry. Steve has served on numerous committees and in leadership roles for both the South Dakota Sheep Growers Association and ASI with the strong support of his wife and family to keep the ranch running. Clements currently serves on the ASI Executive Board representing Region IV and is co-chair of ASI’s Resource Management Council and Predator Management Committee.
Shady Lane Farms is owned by Nicole Jessen along with her husband, Chad; two kids, Cael and Della; and dog, Trixie, and it is home to a flock of 150 registered Polypays and 50 commercial ewes.
The farm flock is registered in the National Sheep Improvement Program and boasts quality ewe lamb and ram genetics. Their quality has been evident with top sheep sale prices this past summer. Shady Lane Farms sold the top ewes at the SDSGA Premium Ewe Sale in Huron, S.D., and had the highest-selling ram at the NSIP sale in Spencer, Iowa.
Source: Capital Journal
Sonora Station Gets Historical Marker
A Texas historical marker was placed at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research Sonora Station on Oct. 16 to commemorate the station’s valuable contributions to agricultural research in the state.
The Sonora Station – now part of the Texas A&M AgriLife center at San Angelo – has a history that goes back more than 105 years. Since its founding, it has been an integral part of success in the research, development and demonstration of agriculture on the Edwards Plateau. It has been a central gathering place for area ranching families, as well as scientists and students from all around the world.
The idea of a Texas Agricultural Experiment Station was hatched during the inaugural convention of the Texas Sheep and Goat Raisers’ Association in Del Rio, Texas. The association then reached out for support from Texas A&M University and the Texas legislature. The station was in use by 1916, financed in equal parts by the legislature and area ranchers.
Following the station’s 100 year anniversary celebration – held in April 2016 – an endowment fund for the Sonora Research Station was established to raise funds to ensure another 100 years of continuing research.
“For over 100 years, the Texas A&M AgriLife Sonora Station – originally called Substation 14 – has been an invaluable resource for rangeland and livestock research,” said Reid Redden, Ph.D., sheep and goat specialist and Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center director. “We are honored to have a historical marker placed at the Sonora center.”
Pavers – which will surround the marker outside the Sonora Station – are available to be sponsored and may be engraved with a family, ranch name or in memoriam.
“The Sonora Endowment committee is leading a project to allow people to honor family members on a paver that hopefully will be around for the next 100 years,” Redden said. “Proceeds will go toward research conducted at the center.”
Commemorative pavers are available in two sizes: 4×8 inches for $100 or 12×12 inches for $250. Order forms are available online. For additional information, contact Phyllis Benge, AgriLife Research senior administrative coordinator at email@example.com or 325-657-7333.
Source: Texas A&M AgriLife