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Volunteers Are the Heart of Councils & Committees

Susan Shultz, ASI President

It was 2004. I had just flown home from the ASI Annual Convention in California – where our farm received the ASI Environment Stewardship Award – after several years of absence.

My first call after arriving home was to my mentor and ASI Past President Guy Flora to share with him how impressed I was with the organization and whether there was a way for us to get more involved. His answer was “absolutely,” and he explained the process. Bill got involved with the Genetic Stakeholders Committee and I joined the Production, Education & Research Council that year, and we have been engaged ever since.

I am sharing our personal story because the ASI Annual Convention is the showcase for the volunteer leaders who want to work together to advance our industry.

The ASI council/committee structure is designed to focus on specific areas that impact the sustainability of our industry. Our councils and committees work throughout the year to advance new ideas and find solutions to the issues that hinder our industry from moving forward.

The volunteer producer leaders that make up these councils and committees are nominated by their state organizations. If you are interested in involvement at the national level, please contact your state executive/state contact to forward your nomination to ASI by the end of February. ASI has made a concentrated effort these past years to increase the involvement of our Young Entrepreneurs in our organization. One of the goals of the YE is to encourage leadership at the national level. A great way to get started is to join a council or committee.

Speaking of leaders and leadership, we paused at this year’s convention to honor and say thank you to individuals and families who have made outstanding contributions to our industry.

• Distinguished Service Award – Dr. Keith Inskeep (W.V.), posthumously;

• McClure Silver Ram Award – Dr. Tim Turner (Texas)

• Industry Innovation Award – John and Diane Peavey (Idaho)

• Distinguished Producer Award – Wes Moser Family (Iowa)

• Wool Excellence Award – Keith Padgett (Colo.)

• Peter Orwick Camptender Award – Bonnie Brown-Eddy (Colo.)

• Shepherd’s Voice Award – Wyoming Livestock Roundup (Wyo.)

Congratulations to the 2022 awardees for your tremendous leadership in improving our sheep industry. We can’t say thank you enough for your time, talents and dedication. Our March issue of the Sheep Industry News will feature each of the award winners and all of the highlights of the San Diego convention.

I hope lambing is (or will be) going well for all of you.

My best.

LMIC Offers Sheep & Lamb Outlook

Livestock Marketing Information Center

The sheep and lamb industry saw prices reach historic levels in 2021. Feeder and fed lamb prices will likely remain elevated into 2022, but are expected to moderate slightly lower in 2023.

The lamb cutout value reached a record in early-August 2021 supported by record prices for the shoulder, leg, loin and rack. In 2021, commercial sheep and lamb slaughter is set to increase about 1 percent from the prior year. Much of the growth in 2021 was due to a substantial increase in mature sheep slaughter – to some of the highest levels in nearly a decade. Increased mature sheep slaughter is expected to result in smaller breeding flock inventory levels for 2022 and 2023.

Smaller lamb crops will likely lead to tighter domestic supplies of lamb, keep lamb prices elevated and import levels high. Lamb and mutton imports should also hit record levels for 2021, driven by record lamb prices and exceptional domestic lamb demand in 2021.

Moving forward, demand will be critical for the sheep and lamb industry, but elevated prices could be a headwind to demand in the near term. Lamb production is forecast to improve marginally in the coming years, but robust demand will likely support feeder and fed lamb prices in 2022 and 2023.

 

Drought in Western U.S.

Much of the sheep and lamb producing regions of the United States have been gripped with persistent drought for more than a year now. For the Western region, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service reported range and pasture conditions in the poor and very poor categories were some of the worst on record.

Typically – for the Western region – poor and very poor range and pasture conditions start the year just below 20 percent and climb to nearly 40 percent by the end of the year. In 2021, more than 50 percent of the range and pasture conditions in the Western region were rated poor and very poor and conditions approached 70 percent during the summer months, but finished the season at about 57 percent.

Deteriorating range and pasture conditions in 2021 led to lower available feed supplies and climbing hay prices. Alfalfa hay prices for the 2021-22 crop year ranged from $194 to $213 per ton with other hay prices ranging from $140 to $152 per ton, both well above historical levels. As of this writing, data for Dec. 1 hay stocks was not available.

Based on prices and available data, hay stocks will likely remain tight into 2022, especially for the Western region. Continued stress on range and pastures along with limited hay supplies will likely keep hay prices above typical levels.

 

Sheep and Lamb Inventory and Slaughter

Sheep and lamb production in 2021 is proving to be a better year for the industry than a year ago. In 2020, the industry was plagued by pandemic related disruptions, the start of drought in the Western United States and the loss of slaughter capacity. As the industry turned the page into 2021, sheep and lamb slaughter saw a steady rise and will likely finish the year about 1 percent above 2020.

Yearling slaughter is tracking about even with a year ago while mature sheep slaughter is accounting for most of the increase in total sheep and lamb slaughter. Through mid-December, mature sheep slaughter was up a substantial 25 percent from the same period in 2020. Typically, mature sheep slaughter accounts for about 5 to 6 percent of weekly sheep slaughter, based on the five-year average (2015-19). In 2021, weekly mature sheep slaughter accounted for more than 7 percent of total slaughter on average, with some weeks ranging from a low of 5 percent to a high of 10 percent.

The Jan. 1 sheep and lamb inventory statistics were scheduled for release from USDA/NASS on Jan. 31, but indications are that inventory levels will likely be down from the prior year. The higher rate of mature sheep slaughter is a good indication that the breeding flock will likely be down from 2020. Lower inventory levels at the start of 2022 should be price supportive for the industry in the near term.

 

Sheep and Lamb Prices

Record lamb prices contributed to the strong pace of slaughter in 2021. The Three-Market (Colo., S.D., Texas) Average feeder lamb price has averaged about $266 per cwt for 2021 and spiked to a record level of $342 in February. Every week of 2021 saw the feeder lamb price above 2020 levels except for the first week of March, when the price dipped to $230 – the lowest price for the year.

Slaughter lamb prices (National Negotiated Live) started 2021 at $154 per cwt and quickly rose 74 percent ($114) to a record price of $268 the first week of August. Since the peak level, prices fell about $34 (13 percent) to $234 per cwt, which was still more than 40 percent above 2020 prices.

Wholesale lamb values were historic in 2021 with record levels having been set within the last five months of the year and prices continue to remain elevated. In August, the shoulder price (Square Cut, Five-Day Rolling Average) jumped to a record of $609, nearly double the prior year. Leg prices reached a record of $604 per cwt in early October and have averaged about $600 since the peak. The loin and rack both set record price levels in November at $1,074 and $1,461 per cwt, respectively. The National Lamb Cutout value (Gross Carcass FOB, Five-Day Rolling Average) rose 66 percent ($255) since the start of the year to a record value of $639 per cwt in early-August, and since that point has averaged $624.

 

Lamb Imports

The final tally for trade data for 2021 will not be released until early February. Through the first 11 months of available data for 2021, lamb and mutton imports were nearly 334 million pounds (carcass weight), up 21 percent from the same period in 2020. Year-to-date lamb and mutton imports for 2021 have already surpassed the record annual total of 302 million pounds set in 2020. Lamb imports through 11 months of 2021 have already reached a record level at 245 million pounds, up 28 percent from the prior year. The prior record for annual lamb imports was in 2019, which were nearly 219 million pounds.

Shipments from Australia rose 25 percent through November and accounted for three-quarters of the total shipments. New Zealand accounted for 24 percent of total shipments through 11 months of 2021 with year-to-date shipments increasing 39 percent from 2020. Mutton imports were up 6 percent through November to 89 million pounds, which surpassed the annual record of 88 million pounds in 2020. Year-to-date mutton shipments from both Australia and New Zealand were up 2 percent and 34 percent, respectively. The record lamb prices in 2021 likely gave an economic incentive for key suppliers of Australia and New Zealand to increase shipment levels, which contributed to the record pace for lamb and mutton imports in 2021.

 

Demand & ALB: Lamb Consumer Survey

Growth in slaughter levels has likely been spurred by the record setting lamb prices, which has been driven by exceptional domestic demand in 2021. Per capita lamb consumption is expected to be more than 1.3 pounds per person for the year, which would be the highest level since the early 1990s. As lamb prices reach record levels, will demand remain strong? A recent survey by the American Lamb Board highlighted growing trends in lamb consumption and recommendations to further consumption.

In October 2021, the American Lamb Board conducted a Lamb Consumer Survey in an effort to understand domestic consumer’s knowledge, perceptions and use of lamb. From the survey, three main purchasing groups were identified: heavy, moderate and light. Heavy lamb purchasers were skewed toward being college-educated millennials with families making more than $100,000 a year and live in urban areas.

The moderate and light purchasers had similar demographics, but were slightly older with a marginally lower income. Across the three purchaser groups, the primary reason for buying lamb was because it is part of their regular eating routine, a craving or impulse to eat lamb, a recipe called for lamb, and for a holiday or special occasion.

Survey results suggested that purchasing behavior among the lamb groups had evolved, with about two-thirds indicating they have bought lamb online. But a majority indicated that they still buy lamb from health stores, supercenters or club stores. When purchasing lamb, the heavy purchase group typically bought leg chops, while moderate and light purchasers more commonly bought loin chops. A positive consensus across the lamb purchasers was that lamb is associated with a unique flavor, images of special occasions and cultural food roots.

The conclusions and recommendations from the report showed that improved lamb consumption is linked to the availability of more lamb cuts in grocery stores year-round and not just near the holidays. This would be critical for the moderate lamb purchaser’s category, which makes up just more than half (51 percent) of lamb eaters surveyed. Creating more opportunities for moderate lamb purchasers to consume lamb more often than their typical behavior of once a month would further support demand for lamb.

Along with creating more opportunities to purchase lamb would be increasing lamb offerings at restaurants and making it more readily available to all consumers. The survey noted that ensuring a quality product would also bolster demand.

 

LMIC Sheep and Lamb Forecast

LMIC was expecting 2021 sheep and lamb slaughter to increase about 1 percent to 2.25 million head with 2022 and 2023 forecast to remain level or increase marginally. Dressed weights moved slightly lower in 2021 to 61 pounds, which led to an almost 1 percent decline in lamb production. Weights are expected to improve marginally in 2022, leading to a slight increase in lamb production to 137.8 million pounds.

Lamb production in 2023 is forecast to grow 1.3 percent to 139.6 million pounds based on a 1.1 percent rise in dressed weights. Per capita lamb consumption is expected to decline in the next two years to 1.28 and 1.17 pounds per person, per year. Although lamb production is forecast to improve marginally in the coming years, the increase will not offset the expected rise in population, leading to lower per capita consumption.

The forecasted tighter supplies for 2022 and robust demand are expected to support feeder and fed lamb prices. Feeder lamb prices are forecast to remain elevated and increase about 2 percent with a range of $271 to $283 per cwt. A marginal rebound in supplies in 2023 will lead to feeder lamb prices moving slightly lower by about 6 percent to $250 to $270 per cwt.

In 2022, fed lamb prices are forecast about 6 percent higher to $222 to $237 per cwt. Slightly higher slaughter levels and improved dressed weights will lead to a 3 percent decline in fed lamb prices to $213 to $233 in 2023.

Guard Dog Program Protects Against Industry Predators

Every year, ASI makes an appeal to those with ties to the sheep industry to support the Guard Dog Program. And every year, producers and others donate generously. But where does the money go, and how does it help the industry?

The Guard Dog Program was established in the early 2000s as a way for the sheep industry to pool resources for litigation in areas ranging from labor to endangered species to predators to grazing rights on public lands and everything in between. While the issues being litigated are generally focused on regional and state concerns, the precedents they set can carry national repercussions for the industry. And so, ASI uses Guard Dog funds to support litigation that protects the interests of the American sheep industry.

ASI Executive Director Peter Orwick relays the discussion with past president Frank Moore of Wyoming that created the fund. He wanted a way to fund industry needs that association dues are insufficient to tackle. All dues to ASI go to Washington, D.C., and legislative and regulatory issues, so the association had no way to respond to other needs such as legal or trade issues.

“As tens of thousands of guard dogs protect our ewes and lambs, the ASI Guard Dog fund helps protect sheep producers,” Moore said.

The Guard Dog Program is supporting the California Wool Growers Association in its current battle over state labor laws concerning agricultural workers. Wages for H-2A sheepherders in the state have traditionally been set above the national mandate, and have played a role in proposed increases at the federal level in past years. So, it’s important that the American sheep industry weigh in on what appears to be a state issue at first glance.

“This battle is expensive, and we don’t know how long we’re in it for,” said Andrée Soares of CWGA back in the fall. “I think we’ve been effective in our work. Plan ahead and have a war chest prepared for when you need to fight this battle yourselves.”

And that’s exactly what ASI’s Guard Dog Program has done: prepared for the battle.

 

BIGHORN BATTLE

One of the toughest battles facing the sheep industry is the loss of grazing allotments throughout the West. Environmental groups looking to obliterate multiple use mandates on public lands have seized on bighorn sheep and their continued health issues to blame domestic sheep for spreading disease. They’ve prevailed in court at times, forcing large Western range flocks out of business after nearly a century of preserving the land.

Third-generation sheep producer Mark Martinez hopes to one day pass the family’s Washington State operation down to his two sons, but that dream took a nightmarish turn in recent years when he found himself the target of one such lawsuit over grazing allotments in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.

“Despite an exemplary record by Martinez Livestock and the upward trend of bighorn sheep populations in the area, plaintiffs sought to halt Martinez Livestock from turning out domestic sheep onto Forest Service lands that it has grazed for decades, relying on what is known as the ‘Risk of Contact’ model, which is often used by environmental plaintiffs as a weapon to halt domestic sheep grazing on certain public lands,” read a statement from the Western Resources Legal Center after a judge denied the plaintiffs request for a preliminary injunction to halt grazing. “In representing Martinez Livestock, WRLC argued, in part, that the alleged risks to bighorn sheep were highly speculative and mitigated successfully through the use of extensive best management practices to reduce the likelihood of bighorn sheep/domestic sheep interactions and outbreaks. Further, WRLC argued that the Forest Service’s Risk of Contact model cannot be exclusively relied on to determine the risk of disease transmission.

“Judge Peterson of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington agreed. She held that the Risk of Contact model is only one piece of the puzzle when assessing disease transmission risks between bighorn and domestic sheep. While sheep ranchers have argued the limited value of the Risk of Contact model for many years, this judicial recognition of the limits of the model serves as a beacon of hope.

“In weighing the public interests at stake, Judge Peterson also recognized the benefits of a community-oriented business and the derivative local and community benefits, such as employment opportunities and research to support state universities.”

While ASI was not a party in the case, the association did file an amicus brief and worked as a conduit to connect the Martinez family with WRLC. Guard Dog funds were also committed to the legal battle.

“As a longtime contributor to the association, it paid off when we needed it,” said Mark Martinez, whose wife, Wendy, and brother, Nick, were also involved in the case. “The Guard Dog Program is an outstanding resource and yet another tool in the war chest to help when there is a desperate need.”

John Helle – a Montana producer who also runs the Duckworth clothing line – can relate to what the Martinez family is going through after a six-year battle over grazing in the Beaverhead-Deer Lodge National Forest. ASI and the Montana Wool Growers Association intervened in the case early on and the courts ruled on several occasions in favor of sheep producers and their grazing rights in the area.

“These cases are overwhelmingly expensive for one family or one operation to battle,” Helle said. “But losing these cases has a detrimental effect on the entire industry. Having a source of funds to draw from is super critical when you find yourself in this situation. We have to win these battles.”

But there’s more to it than just the legal expenses. Finding yourself in this situation takes a physical, mental and emotional toll, as well.

“It’s just disheartening to think that there are people out there who want to ruin your entire livelihood. It costs money and time, and it’s hard on the families that are going through it,” Helle said. “But they’ve built a business out of litigation.”

The Equal Access to Justice Act authorizes a payment of attorney’s fees to a prevailing party in an action against the United States absent a showing by the government that its position in the underlying litigation was substantially justified. “Environmental” groups are regularly filing lawsuits against the federal government in an attempt to take advantage of the act.

“But we don’t get to collect any of that money,” Helle said. “There’s no way we would have been able to fight this case and win it without the financial support of ASI and other (state and regional) livestock groups.”

While the plaintiffs in these cases often have little to no interest in preserving the land, producers such as Helle just want to operate the ranches they’ve had in the family for multiple generations and be leaders in their communities. They truly have a vested interest in preserving the land they rely on to feed their flocks each year.

“The best part about our case is that we help set some precedents and put some case law out there that will benefit the industry in the future,” Helle said.
It’s a welcome change for an industry that often wasn’t on the winning side in years past.

“The favorable outcome for public lands domestic sheep grazing in this case reverses the series of federal court cases that went the other way,” wrote Jim Brown, former public affairs director for the Montana Wool Growers in the association’s November 2021 membership magazine. “For example, in 2016, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a 2014 lower court decision that resulted in a roughly 70 percent reduction of domestic sheep grazing in the Payette National Forest located in Idaho. The ‘win’ in the Montana case will serve as good precedent for other courts to follow when analyzing lawsuits challenging federal lands domestic sheep grazing permits and practices.”

When you look at it like that, Guard Dog funds spent on today’s cases double as a down payment on future litigation. And that makes every contribution even more valuable.

View the list of contributors and the opportunity to participate at SheepUSA.org/about-joindonate-donate.

AWA Offering Evaluations, Ranch Groups

HEATHER PEARCE
Wool Production Program Manager

Launched in 2020, the American Wool Assurance Program continues to develop and grow, with the goal of helping producers sell more wool while expanding the number of buyers for their wool.

“We have seen great interest among both domestic and international wool buyers, some of which are willing to pay a premium. As with any marketing decision, we recommend growers discuss possibilities with their warehouse, pool or wool buyer,” said ASI Deputy Director Rita Samuelson.

Additionally, there is growing interest from American producers in the program, many of whom have already completed the Level I Educated certification by going through the online module and have been awaiting the opportunity to take that next step forward to Level II and become Processed Verified by being reviewed by an evaluator.

“Last summer, ASI launched the first of three levels in the AWA program. Level 1 is educated, Level II is Process Verified and Level III is Certified,” said Samuelson. “ASI is excited to announce that trainers – evaluators – will be available for growers to become Process Verified.”

Level II certification requires a second-party review by a trained evaluator. More than 15 individuals have completed the evaluator training and are now ready to start providing those necessary evaluations to allow producers to become Level II certified.

The Level II review will provide an added level of comfort about the procedures in place when growing and harvesting wool. Evaluators of this second level will use operation plans, records, interviews and observations in looking for compliance with AWA standards.

The evaluators bring sheep experience and have been trained in recent months to provide consistent, objective and trustworthy evaluations. To become an evaluator, they had to have sheep experience or education, complete online courses, attend virtual training sessions with an auditor, and complete written and oral exams.

Evaluations not only allow growers to become accredited in AWA Level II – which allows them to mark wool packs with an AWA logo and for buyers to verify the wool as AWA Process Verified – but also can help growers in advancing their operation practices and to prepare for a third party-audit, which is required for Level III certification.

Wool producers interested in working with an evaluator, should visit AmericanWoolAssurance.org/member-contacts/.

 

RANCH GROUPS

Ranch Groups are now available to help growers become AWA Ranch Group Certified. When multiple growers in an area signing up for a Ranch Group, they can:

• Reap the benefits of achieving a fully certified status;

• Decrease auditing costs by only a portion of the members being audited every four years;

• Pool wool to create larger lots of certified wool;

• Have the opportunity to share information and learn about best practices.

For more information and to form a Ranch Group, please see AmericanWoolAssurance.org/wp-content/uploads/AWA-Ranch-Group-Form.pdf.

ASI developed the Ranch Group aspect of the program because it believes there’s a need for allowing producers to work together in the certification process. It’s another way in which this voluntary assurance program has benefitted from producer input.

 

AWA GUIDE

A new AWA Guide is available to help you understand more about the program, it’s standards and what is needed for a second-party evaluation or third-party audit. Check it out at AmericanWoolAssurance.org/wp-content/uploads/AWA-Guide.pdf.

 

ACCREDITATION BEFORE SHEARING

A reminder, before you shear and have your wool clip ready, producers might want to become accredited. To get started and become Level I accredited, simply complete the AWA and Sheep Safety and Quality Assurance learning courses in the member home section of the website, at AmericanWoolAssurance.org/members.

Sheep Should Fast Before Shearing

Whatever your thoughts on fasting sheep, there’s no doubt your shearer will thank you for keeping the flock off feed and water before shearing. More importantly, your sheep will thank you, too. While there are various views on fasting, the benefits to sheep and shearer are significant, and backed by research.

The ASI Code of Practice for the Preparation of Wool Clips and even ASI’s Sheep Production Handbook don’t go into much detail about why fasting is important, but both call for sheep to be penned anywhere from four to 12 hours before shearing. And both recommend keeping sheep off feed and water while penned before shearing.

So, why is it important? First and foremost, for the health and safety of both the sheep and the shearer.

If the gut of a sheep is full, it can add significant weight to the sheep, placing additional downward pressure on the sheep’s organs when in the shearing position and causing discomfort and stress to the sheep. In turn, this often causes the sheep to not only be uncomfortable, but to kick and struggle more, leading to even more stress to the sheep.

Also, if sheep urinate or defecate on the shearing floor, there is an increased risk of the sheep slipping when it stands up from being shorn. A slippery shearing surface is also a significant hazard for the shearer.

The goal of fasting is for sheep to urinate, defecate and empty their digestive tracts before entering the shearing facilities. The minimum and maximum times off feed and water will depend on the sheep’s stage of production (see table below). The minimum fasting times ensure that the gut is emptied, while the maximum times ensure the health and welfare of the sheep.

It’s important to note that sheep should not exceed the maximum time off feed and water, which can happen on long (or multiple) shearing days. Keep in mind that if all sheep are penned at the same time, the last sheep sheared will have fasted for longer than those shorn first.

A secondary reason for fasting is to improve the quality of the wool clip. Eliminating the possibility of sheep urinating or defecating on the shearing floor means a cleaner surface for harvesting wool. And clean wool generally translates to a better, more valuable wool clip.

“A year is spent growing the product, while only a few minutes are required to harvest it. It is in this brief harvest period that quality is often adversely affected,” according to ASI’s Code of Practice for the Preparation of Wool Clips.

For more information, visit WorkSafe.govt.nz/topic-and-industry/agriculture/working-with-animals/working-with-sheep/fasting-of-sheep-prior-to-shearing-gpg/.

Shave ‘Em to Save ‘Em Continues Success

Three years ago, the Manton Foundation generously supported a wildly creative idea to save endangered sheep when The Livestock Conservancy asked, “What if we connected people who love fiber arts with our shepherds and encouraged them to buy rare breed wool?”

The concept was based on a strategy The Livestock Conservancy has found successful in more than 44 years of saving heritage breeds. When you give these animals a job, you increase their contribution to a small farm’s bottom line. That encourages the farmer, rancher or shepherd to expand their flocks and herds, increasing population numbers and genetic diversity within breeds. The domino effect saves breeds from extinction.

As of the end of 2021, there were 2,670 Fiber Artists in the Shave ‘Em to Save ‘Em Initiative, and The Livestock Conservancy continues to ship new passports and pins weekly. The original goal was 1,000 participants by the end of the initial three-year, grant-funded project. That goal was eclipsed in the first three months.

Due to the overwhelming popularity Shave ‘Em to Save ‘Em still enjoys, The Livestock Conservancy extended the Dec. 31, 2021, deadline indefinitely. The program also accomplished a key funding milestone in 2021 and was fully funded with new dollars beyond the original grant support for the first time.

As of Dec. 1, 2021, 604 fiber providers are also enrolled in Shave ‘Em to Save ‘Em. Unlike fiber artists who pay a one-time fee of $15, providers are asked to renew their enrollment fee of $10 annually. Most are also finding it is a good investment.

An additional important benchmark is the number of fiber artists completing breed project goals as follows:

• 277 fiber artists completed projects with five SE2SE breeds;

• 139 fiber artists completed projects with 10 SE2SE breeds;

• 69 fiber artists completed projects with 15 SE2SE breeds;

• Four fiber artists completed projects with 20 SE2SE breeds;

• And three fiber artists completed projects with 23 SE2SE breeds.

Because of the rarity of these breeds, some wool is often especially challenging for fiber artists to locate and purchase. But reaching out to build relationships with these shepherds and fiber providers is a key component of the program. These relationships lead to repeat purchases and long-term economic sustainability for fiber providers.

“It’s no secret that a major shift took place this past year in conducting our work and educating people about rare breeds. Coronavirus restrictions pushed us to learn new technologies and improve our abilities in the virtual world,” read a report from The Livestock Conservancy. “As a result, our online content has grown by leaps and bounds. Our visibility has improved, but more importantly the valuable information is helping shepherds who are raising heritage breeds.”

The Livestock Conservancy manages Shave ‘Em to Save ‘Em Facebook and Ravelry Groups as an important outreach effort supporting this fiber challenge. The SE2SE Facebook Group has grown to more than 6,500 members, and the Ravelry group has more than 1,700 active followers.

The Livestock Conservancy quickly launched Facebook Lives, Species Chats, Marketing Mondays, Wooly Wednesdays and Farm Tour Fridays in the past year.

These initiatives reached new audiences – such as the fiber artists who support rare breed conservation – with educational workshops focused on socks, mittens, shawls and felting. These initiatives also provided a new revenue source through modest enrollment fees. Many new fiber artists come to the Conservancy for these challenges and then enroll in Shave ‘Em to Save ‘Em.

Thanks to a generous charitable gift, fiber artist, author and former Livestock Conservancy board member Deb Robson created 23 fiber profiles to correspond with the 23 endangered sheep breeds included in the Shave ‘Em to Save ‘Em passport. The fiber profiles provide much-needed information to educate fiber enthusiasts on the unique qualities and possible uses for each heritage breed’s fiber.

These fiber profiles are now available for free download from the RareWool.org webpage. These profiles are also a new tool helping heritage breed shepherds market their rare wool to the fiber arts community. The 23 full-color fiber profiles will also be included in the upcoming Shave ‘Em to Save ‘Em Project Book, which will be available for purchase by individual participants and fiber guilds later this year.

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