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ASI Executive Board Making Plans for New Year

Susan Shultz, ASI President

Welcome to a new year. We look forward to the many opportunities that we have as an association to work together toward accomplishing our vision and mission.

Leading the charge is our ASI Executive Board, which is made up of eight elected regional directors, four elected officers and a representative of the National Lamb Feeders Association. These volunteer sheep producers are ready and willing to serve as your link to ASI and our industry priorities.

The makeup of the current ASI Executive Board is a refection of the wide diversity that is our American sheep industry. Their sheep operations range from intensive to extensive production systems with hair sheep or wool sheep, and their merchandising includes direct marketing, niche marketing and utilizing traditional and non-traditional markets.

Each regional director serves as the chair of an ASI council or committee, and are updated regularly on the issues that affect our industry as a whole. These are the folks that are the communication link between state membership and ASI – your national organization. They can help bring your questions and concerns back to the ASI board for deliberation and action.

During the winter season is the time for many state organizations to hold their annual meetings. If you did not have a representative of ASI participate this year, please consider inviting your regional director or an officer to your meeting in 2022 so they can listen and learn about your issues.

For the new year, ASI will focus on three areas of improvement. The executive board will continue the review of our finances and set goals for revenue while investigating options for future funding.

We will also continue our efforts to prioritize enhancing communications within our ASI organization, state associations and between the American Lamb Board, the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center and all segments of our industry. Our third initiative is to track both sheep numbers and membership numbers to respond to the priorities for education and outreach.

A new year always brings the opportunity to start anew with new goals for your operation and a renewed spirit for change. Let’s keep working together to improve our American sheep industry. The future looks very bright.

My best.

What Will 2022 Bring in the American Sheep Industry?

JULIE STEPANEK SHIFLETT, PH.D.
Juniper Economic Consulting

The million-dollar question facing this industry in 2022 is whether the current hot market is sustainable. Last year, slaughter lamb prices climbed 48 percent, and the wholesale market climbed 50 percent to record-breaking levels.

The last couple of years revealed an undeniable increase in lamb demand in the United States. COVID-prompted demand coupled with relatively tight domestic supplies supported prices at new highs and attracted imports. Even if the domestic supply situation eases into 2022, it is possible that strong demand will continue to prop up prices well into 2022.

Higher live and meat prices can encourage flock expansion, continued investments in sheep infrastructure including packing houses, markets, and research and development. However, higher lamb prices are only one-half of the flock expansion equation. There are continued constraints to expansion including higher labor and feed costs and ongoing predator losses that muddle forecasting efforts. With the West embroiled in a record drought, pasture and forage costs will continue to rise, and most feed concentrate prices are higher (soybeans might be the exception).

 

Forecasts

The Livestock Marketing Information Center forecasted in early December that production could stabilize in 2022, however, the combination of lower beginning stocks and a projected 4 percent decline in imports in 2022 could mean a 3 percent drop in both lamb availability and per capita consumption.

In early December, LMIC forecasted that in 2022 national direct slaughter lambs could see $213 to $228 per cwt., up 0.5 percent annually. The three-market average for 60 to 90 lb. feeders could see $256 to $271 per cwt, down about 1 percent from 2021.

A December report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service arrived at a similar conclusion. It suggests that meat prices could stay high in 2022, but tempered. Meat prices overall were expected to increase 5 to 6 percent in 2021 year-on-year and are projected to rise another 2 to 3 percent in 2022. Prices in the “Other Meat” category (notably lamb) are forecasted to see a 1 to 2 percent increase in 2022.

The price spread between wholesale lamb prices and slaughter lamb prices received by lamb producers has increased through the pandemic. The widening share might be explained by increased processing costs, including labor shortages and supply chain disruptions. The widening spread might also be explained by an increasing share of value-added lamb products at retail, such as pre-seasoned roasts.

 

Feeder and Slaughter Lamb Prices Stronger

Sixty to 90 lb. feeder lamb prices at auction averaged $292.40 per cwt. in November, up 11 percent monthly and up 37 percent year-on-year. Prices at San Angelo, Texas, and Fort Collins, Colo., averaged $293.00 per cwt. and $273.67 per cwt., respectively, while prices topped $3 per lb. in Sioux Falls, S.D., at $310.53 per cwt.

In November, the slaughter lamb market remained well above $2 per lb. At auction, Choice and Prime 1 to 2, 100 to 150 lb. lambs averaged $272.00 per cwt., up 10 percent monthly and up 28 percent from 2020. Prices at Fort Collins and Sioux Falls both saw $227 per cwt. in November, about 43 percent higher than last year.

Hair lamb prices at the New Holland, Penn., auction saw a high of $303.46 per cwt. for 50 to 60 lb. lambs, which was up 15 percent monthly and 19 percent higher year-on-year (Good and Choice 1 2). Prices per cwt. fell for heavier weight classes with the 90 to 100 lbs. class averaging $217.42 per cwt., up 23 percent monthly and up 28 percent year-on-year.

Live, negotiated slaughter lamb market prices saw a 4 percent softening in November with prices easing to $231.22 per cwt. while still boasting a 38 percent premium compared to last year. Live weights in the live, negotiated trade averaged 143 lbs. in November, 7 percent heavier year-on-year from 134 lbs., suggesting that the supply situation has eased.

 

Domestic Production Down; Imports Up

In January to November, estimated lamb harvest rose 1 percent year-on-year to 1.6 million head while estimated lamb production dropped 2 percent to 75.5 million lbs., due to lower harvest weights.

Live weights in federally inspected harvest fell from 129 lbs. to an estimated 126 lbs. in 2021, down 2 percent. In the last 20 years, live weights at harvest have fallen from an average of 140 lbs. to under 130 lbs. by 2020. The lower average can be explained by the assimilation of lighter-weight hair lambs and wooled breeds into federally inspected harvest.

Lamb and mutton in cold storage fell by about 50 percent from mid-2020 to November 2021. In 2021, from January to December, inventories bounced around from about 21,000 to 27,000 lbs.

At 141,729 head, the Colorado feedlot inventory was 111 percent of 2020’s December inventory, and 97 percent of the five-year average for the month. While lamb supplies were tight for wooled lambs during the summer, the fall saw a surge in feedlot placements, to levels not seen for about four years.

According to the Meat & Livestock Australia Sheep October Update, as nutrition and health awareness rises post COVID, demand for lamb is expected to surge. Further, demand will continue to expand as restaurants and hotels fully reopen. According to the report, “lamb is still an unfamiliar protein to a large proportion of U.S. consumers, however, their willingness to try it has been increasing over time.”

Total lamb and mutton imports January to October were 295 million lbs., up 18 percent year-on-year. In January to October lamb imports totaled 221.1 million lbs., up 28 percent year-on-year. Australian imports saw 165.6 million lbs., up 26 percent, and New Zealand imports totaled 52.2 million lbs., up 38 percent.

Mutton imports were 73.9 million lbs. in January to October, down 6 percent year-on-year. Australian mutton imports saw 65.3 million lbs., down 11 percent, and New Zealand mutton totaled 7.2 million lbs., up 36 percent.

Total lamb exports were 363,000 lbs. in January to October, down 16 percent year-on-year. About 60 percent of American lamb exports are shipped to Mexico, with the remaining exports to Caribbean Island nations. Mutton exports saw 2.5 million lbs. in January to October, down 86 percent year-on-year.

 

Meat Market Softened

Last November, the wholesale lamb market had backed off its $7 per lb. record highs observed in August and again in October, but remained historically high.

The lamb cutout value averaged $676.35 per cwt. in November, down 2 percent monthly and up 47 percent year-on-year. All primals saw lower values in November. The 8-rib rack, medium, averaged $1,410.42 per cwt., the shoulder, square-cut, averaged $97.20 per cwt., the loin, trimmed, 4×4, averaged $1,036.68 per cwt., the leg, trotter-off, saw $608.44 per cwt.

The softening in prices might be a result of an overheated market.

Year-to-year, the primals remain sharply higher than November 2021. The rack was up 56 percent year-on-year, the leg was up 53 percent, the loin was up 46 percent, and the shoulder was up 36 percent.

 

Australian Wool Market Makes a Comeback

The Australian Eastern Market Indicator in U.S. Dollars was 4 percent shy of its pre-pandemic levels, according to the Australian Wool Innovation Market Intelligence Briefing in November. AWI wrote, “the price discrepancy between the finer wools and broader wools has grown as a result of the pandemic.” This year, finer wools might continue to strengthen while coarser wools struggle.

In November, the EMI averaged U.S. $4.42 per lb., down 1 percent monthly, and 14 percent higher year-on-year. According to the Meat & Livestock Australia Sheep October Update, the 2022 EMI price will remain dependent on demand from the major wool manufacturing countries of China, India, Czechia and Italy.

From Oct. 1 to Sept. 30, 2021, the American total wool export value was up 64 percent year-on-year and up 75 percent by value. In early December, ASI Wool Consultant Barry Savage commented that while increased wool exports is significant, perhaps more important is “spreading the export risk.”

Last season, wool exports were shipped to a broader number of countries with China remaining important, but Mexico, Italy and Bulgaria picking up export shares.

This year, the U.S.-Australian exchange rate will continue to be a barometer of international wool prices and trade. In January to early December 2021, the Australian dollar lost 7 percent in value from 0.77 to 0.72 Australia dollar/U.S. dollar, a depreciation which will make Australian sheep, lamb and wool exports more competitive on the international market.

During the last two years, the price of coarser wools has continued to weaken while generally finer wools rebounded from the mid-2020 low of the pandemic. An estimated 66 percent of American wools are 18.6 to 24.5 um (micron) and another 31 percent are 24.6 to 32.5 um (micron). About 1 percent of American wools fall into the finer end, 18.5 micron and finer, and about 2 percent of wools are 32.6 um and broader. In November, the finer wools collectively gained 15 percent year-on-year, but coarser wools lost 8 percent in Australia.

It is believed that a considerable amount of wool remains stored on farm, and that this wool is predominately coarser wools. Savage commented that marketing this wool – particularly if looking to export – will be challenging given high overseas freight rates.

Overall, this year should see improved marketing conditions for American wool with confidence in 2022 economic growth already priced into the stronger Australian wool market in December.

Congress Looks to Protect American Sheep Industry

Last month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture published a final rule on the importation of sheep, goats and certain other ruminants, which could have serious consequences for American sheep and goat producers. The rule removes critical protections against fatal diseases, such as scrapie, when the administration should be focusing on opening new export markets for American producers.

In response on Dec. 10, Congressman August Pfluger (Texas) introduced a bipartisan bill to require the USDA to delay implementation of the rule until its impacts on American sheep producers can be fully studied. Companion legislation was filed in the Senate by Sen. John Barrasso (S. 3354).

Cosponsors of the House legislation included Reps. Henry Cuellar, Ronny Jackson, Nicole Malliotakis, Jodey Arrington, Tony Gonzales, Yvette Herrell, Chris Stewart, Jeff Fortenberry, Dusty Johnson, and Liz Cheney. Sen. Barrasso’s legislation was cosponsored by John Tester, Tina Smith, Kevin Cramer, John Hoeven, Mike Rounds, John Thune, Cynthia Lummis, Steve Daines and Roger Marshall.

The measure is supported by ASI, the Texas Sheep and Goat Raisers Association, the American Farm Bureau and Texas Farm Bureau.

Rep. August Pfluger: “At a time where American sheep and goat producers are facing extreme predation, increased labor costs and loss of federal grazing land, this administration must remain laser focused on opening up new export markets for American lamb. This rule could have serious effects, and I am proud to lead this effort to halt implementation until its effects can be fully studied.”

ASI President Susan Shultz: “The American Sheep Industry Association greatly appreciates the leadership of Rep. Pfluger and our affiliate the Texas Sheep and Goat Raisers Association. We have continued to ask successive administrations to prioritize export opportunities for U.S. sheep producers, before allowing additional imports. The legislation introduced by Rep. Pfluger in the House and Senator Barrasso in the Senate will provide the domestic sheep and lamb industry the information we need to assess the potential impacts of increasing exports and inform this conversation going forward.”

TSGRA President Curry Campbell: “The Texas Sheep and Goat Raisers’ Association would like to thank Congressman Pfluger and his staff for their continued support of the sheep and goat industry.

“This bill is an essential step in evaluating the full impact this regulation may possibly have on the U.S. sheep and goat industry in the future.”

Wool Excellence Award Honors Keith Padgett

Keith Padgett is proud to say he saw an increased awareness of wool quality among sheep producers during his 55 years in the industry. The role he played in building that awareness will be recognized this month when Padgett receives the Wool Excellence Award at the 2022 ASI Annual Convention in San Diego.

A longtime market reporter with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Padgett said there were many producers he dealt with early in his career who saw wool as an unwanted by-product.

“That’s probably the biggest change I saw – and I was encouraged to see it – is the interest that a lot of producers had in learning about the quality of their wool and what they could do to improve it,” Padgett said from his home in Montrose, Colo. “I think a lot of producers have realized the importance of wool and the effect it can have on the income of their operations if they put a little bit of effort into producing quality wool.”

Padgett’s involvement with wool began early on in life. He worked with sheep in 4-H as a child and started shearing as a teenager in the 1950s. He was a member of the county 4-H wool judging team. While in college he worked on the Oklahoma State University sheep farm and sheared sheep to pay his way through school.

Professionally, he started with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1963 as a livestock reporter stationed at various locations around the United States before moving into wool reporting, wool standards and wool testing in 1975 at the Denver Wool Lab.

“I stayed in that capacity until I retired in 1997,” Padgett said.

During that time, Padgett got involved with wool judging and the wool show at the National Western Stock Show in Denver. He was named superintendent of the NWSS wool show in the mid-1990s and served in that capacity until resigning in 2020 and moving to Colorado’s Western Slope.

“It was highly encouraging to me to see young people on these collegiate wool judging teams show an interest in the commodity,” Padgett said. “That’s why I continued to work with the wool show and judging competition for so many years.”

Padgett regularly visited with sheep producers in the intermountain West to procure fleeces for the show and competition. And he always stressed the importance of improving wool quality.

“I’ve seen enormous advancements in the quality and knowledge of wool,” he said. “I like to think that maybe I had a small involvement in that change. But there were lots of progressive producers out there who saw a need and set about doing it.”

For the past 15 years or so, Padgett also served as a wool buyer for Keese International. While he hasn’t bought wool in the past few years for the company, he certainly left his mark on that facet of the industry.

“He’s just so personable and warm-hearted,” said Darrell Keese. “He’s the nicest wool buyer you’ll ever meet. And he loves the industry and looking for opportunities to help producers. He’s just always been a world class individual.”

Keese also praised Padgett’s skills as a market reporter.

“He did a great job at reporting prices and was always fair to both the grower and the buyer,” Keese said.

As for winning the Wool Excellence Award, Padgett was surprised to receive the phone call from Dan Gutzman of the Wool Roundtable.

“I didn’t know what to say,” Padgett admitted. “I was very much surprised. I have enjoyed my career in the wool industry and the acquaintances I’ve made with buyers, producers and others in the industry.”

Wool Council Offers Developing Shearer-Mentor Grants

Finding a shearer – for any size operation – is increasingly difficult. Understanding this, the ASI Wool Council has developed a new grant totaling $15,000 with the goal of helping develop beginner and intermediate shearers and keeping them in the industry.

The grant is open to developing shearers and their mentors (those who are helping train them). Developing shearers will receive $500 at the beginning of the program to help them with equipment and/or to supplement their work when they are shearing a low number of head each day.

Developing shearers will then receive $1,000 upon completion of the program, which includes sending videos of their progress, visits with ASI staff and Wool Council members and a written summary. Mentors will receive $1,500 upon completion, which includes a written summary and documentation of how they assisted the developing shearer.

Applications can be found at Sheepusa.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/2022-Developing-Shearer-Mentor-Grant-Application.pdf and are due by Jan. 15.

Valley Oak Wool Mill Caters to Niche Market

Marcail McWilliams knows where wool comes from, of course, but as owner of Valley Oak Wool Mill in Woodland, Calif., she says it’s humorous to visit her customers’ operations and see the valuable fiber resting on a sheep’s back. Once it’s sheared, however, that fleece is in good hands with the California College of the Arts graduate who can’t imagine doing anything other than running a wool mill.

Valley Oak caters to a niche market in the industry, and Marcail says much of the fiber she processes wouldn’t be considered valuable in the mainstream wool market.

“People are surprised that my customers get $25 per pound for some of this wool,” she said. “It’s fun for me to go to my customers’ farms and see the actual animals that produce the wool I’ve been processing for years. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know my customers and learning about sheep from the wool perspective.”

While she’s owned the former Yolo Wool Mill for less than five years, Marcail began working in the mill in 2009 under former owner Jane Deamer, so some of those customer relationships are more than a decade old at this point.

“I know that I could be more efficient,” she said. “But I like being able to provide a service to my customers. My average customer is probably about 30 pounds per order, but I can do as little as 10 pounds. It can come from just one animal if that’s what they want. I might have a customer come to me and say, ‘This is Ladybug’s final shearing and I want to knit a sweater out of it,’ and that’s really cool to me.”

A self-described art enthusiast in high school, Marcail was already on that path when she took a single ag class her senior year. She immediately wished she’d found her way into agriculture earlier, but at that point there was no turning back. Coming home to work in a wool mill after college allowed her the chance to combine art and ag in her professional life.

“This is he direction that I feel like I would have liked my life to go in,” she said. “I ended up in art school, but I was always most comfortable in the textiles department. This is where I felt like I was supposed to be all along.”

After almost seven years as an employee at the mill, Marcail left to work with Mystic Pines Fiber Processing in Arizona. But she always knew she would be coming back to California at some point.

“I went down there from the start telling them that my goal was to run a mill in California,” she said. “They were willing to let me work for them short-term. I think we realized that we could both benefit from my time there. But the owner in Arizona kept asking me, ‘Are you sure you want to run a mill in California?’ I’m glad that I came back. I felt like I was setup to do this. I had to at least give it a try.”

So when Deamer retired, Marcail headed back to Woodland to fulfill her destiny. A new owner had purchased the house and business along with the property’s 20 acres, but had no interest in running a mill. After looking into a variety of options for how to restart the business, Marcail settled on a five-year purchase plan for the equipment and a five-year lease on the buildings. Come November of this year, she’ll own the equipment outright.

“I’m still learning a lot,” she said adding that the business side of the mill has been the most challenging aspect of taking control. Well, that and handling maintenance and repairs on the 70-year-old equipment. “At first, I tended to freak out when something broke down. In the beginning, I was like, ‘That’s it, it’s over.’ Now, I know that it’s going to be okay. In the past year, I’ve impressed myself with how much I’ve been able to do. I’ve gotten pretty good at figuring things out.”

The next thing she’ll have to figure out is where the mill will call home. With her five-year lease up this fall, she’ll have the option of moving the facility.

“Ideally, I would like to own the property wherever the mill ends up. And hopefully it would be in Woodland,” she said. “My parents are still here. I’ve got a good community here, so I don’t want to go too far from here. But land is pretty expensive. There are some cheaper places I could be in California.”

There’s always a chance the mill will stay right where it is on leased ground just off County Road 27 between Woodland and Davis.

“I’m learning what it means to have a business in California,” Marcail said. “At times, it’s hard and frustrating. Every year it seems like there’s a new hoop for me to jump through. But I’m happy with the way it worked out. I didn’t want to go start my own thing somewhere else. It felt like I had to at least try to make this work.”

Regardless of the location, Marcail expects to stay busy in the years to come. Yarn orders typically include a year of waiting in line before processing. But the orders continue to flow in.

“Some people who don’t know about sheep wonder if there’s really enough business for me,” Marcail said. “The answer is ‘Yes.’ I never really shutdown. My biggest influx of wool is in May. That seems a bit late to me, but some of my customers are more coastal, and it’s a bit colder over there. So, maybe they wait a little longer to shear.

“With some of the types of wool I get, it’s nicer to work with if they shear twice a year. Sometimes I get a second influx of orders in December. I really like seeing the variety of wool that comes through this mill. I see a lot of Wensleydale, Navajo-Churro, Romney, Shetland. I also get some California Red and Jacob, too.”

Wools from those breeds definitely fall into a niche market, but it’s a niche that feels right at home for Marcail.

Meet the Exec. Board: Lisa Weeks

As a first-generation sheep producer, Lisa Weeks had some concerns about how well she might fit in as a member of the ASI Executive Board. But her dedication to education and a data-driven mindset that have guided her family’s Katahdin operation for 30 years allow her to bring an analytical approach to the position. As the hair sheep population continues to grow, Weeks is well suited to represent ASI’s Region II.

WE CURRENTLY RAISE A 50-EWE FLOCK OF KATAHDINS on about 33 acres in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. We were introduced to the breed through a 1990 article in Sheep magazine highlighting Laura Callan (now Fortmeyer) and her work at Heifer Project International in Arkansas managing their flock of Katahdins. The fact that they were a shedding breed and didn’t require shearing was a high degree of interest because Larry was recuperating in the hospital from an eye injury from the shortest career as a shearer in history. Because the breed was relatively new, it was quite a challenge finding breeding stock to purchase. We purchased a ram from Laura and four ewes from Henry Liccardello in New Jersey. And we’ve never looked back.

WE WERE VERY GREEN AND KNEW NOTHING when we started, but we still enjoy learning something new every day. It has been quite a journey as we both worked off the farm and raised two daughters, Lexi, 24 and Laryn, 20. It must not have been too bad as we’re still in it today. We wanted to concentrate on improving our flock through genetics. Since I am a very analytically minded person, I am always intrigued with how things work. We enrolled our flock in the National Sheep Improvement Program in 2001. Today, our focus is on offering animals with high parasite resistance, maintaining the maternal traits that make the breed so functional, and improving growth.

THERE ARE MORE AND MORE HAIR SHEEP in this part of the country every day. Sadly, larger farms are being sold and often broken into smaller acreages. There might be a silver lining though. Because sheep don’t require as much acreage, they are often in demand by people wanting to stay in touch with agriculture, especially retirees.

I’M ALSO ON THE BOARD of the Eastern Alliance for Production Katahdins, a new regional group that started in 2020 for the purpose of quantifying, educating and promoting like-minded producers. The board has worked hard to create fact sheets, NSIP concepts, blogs and a quarterly newsletter that are easy to read and understand for all producers enrolled in NSIP, not necessarily just Katahdins. I have always believed in the mission of ASI. Regardless of breed, the American sheep industry has a bright future in the landscape of American agriculture.

Shaniko Donates Olympic Sweater

Shaniko Wool Company and Jeanne Carver of Oregon have donated a 2022 Winter Olympics sweater identical to the ones that will be worn by Team USA during the games’ closing ceremonies on Feb. 20 in Beijing, China, to ASI. The sweater will be auctioned off during the annual RAMS PAC Auction on Jan. 21 at the ASI Annual Convention in San Diego.

The donation is in memory of Jeanne’s husband, Dan, who passed away in 2021.

Shaniko Wool Company provided RWS certified wool for the sweater and a hat (to be worn in both the opening and closing ceremonies). The sweater is made with 100 percent wool and retails for $495.

Ralph Lauren partnered with many manufacturers in the United States to produce the Team USA uniforms. Shaniko Wool Company is one of those partners. From design and manufacturing, to marketing and distribution, the parade ceremony uniforms represent the best of American talent. Ralph Lauren is honored to continue its commitment to manufacturing these uniforms in the U.S.A.

Obituary

DANIEL CARVER, 1942-2021

Dan Carver was born Dec. 14, 1942, and died on July 23, 2021.

He grew up on the Oregon coast on a small beef and timber ranch. Whenever possible, he tagged along with his father into the Owyhee country of southeast Oregon. They shared a love of the desert country and those trips fostered the beginnings of a dream Dan would pursue his entire life – ranching in the Oregon desert.

Dan earned a degree in business and engineering at Oregon State University, and then went off to Vietnam in the late 1960s. When he returned home, he started a business that eventually allowed him to return to his ranching roots. Starting first with a small beef/hay operation east of the Cascade Mountains in the 1970s, he was able to purchase the historic Imperial Stock Ranch located near the ghost town of Shaniko in 1988. Dan made a promise when he bought the ranch, to honor its history, which meant that sheep would remain an important part of the operation. Last year was the 150th consecutive year of Imperial Stock Ranch operations, raising sheep, cattle, grains and hay. Through the years, Dan developed a deep appreciation for the sheep and their history.

For the next 30-plus years, Dan earned a reputation as a creative manager of natural resources. He was a leader in the nationally acclaimed Buckhollow Watershed Project, and was widely honored for his conservation ethic and sustainable practices. For him, grazing animals were a critical part of the health of landscapes.

On the Imperial Stock Ranch, that meant sheep were an important part of the story. Dan’s leadership placed him on the board of directors for both the Oregon Department of Agriculture and the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, where he served for eight years.

In the late 1990s, Dan supported a move out of selling commodity wool and lamb, taking the harvests to product stage and into value-added markets. He loved the relationships with customers and the sense of connection.

Dan touched many people in his life, inspiring those around him as he worked to “see the land win.” He knew that meant improved harvests and a stronger bottom line.

He also felt history was deeply important, and made extraordinary efforts to preserve those aspects of the operation and facilities. Dan wisely positioned the ranch to be carried on by the next generation.

He passed away at home with his family, on the Imperial Stock Ranch he loved so much.

DSANA Plans Online Symposium

Register now to attend the second live, online Dairy Sheep Association of North American Symposium on Jan. 19-20. After last year’s successful virtual symposium, DSANA is again gathering a host of speakers to present on topics related to sheep dairying.

Presentations will take place during the course of two-and-a-half days. Question-and-answer sessions will follow each presentation. Registration is free to all DSANA members. Non-members can register for $75.

Topics planned for discussion include:

• Using Estimated Breeding Values for Breeding and Selection;

• Food Safety for Artisan Cheesemakers;

• Raising Dairy Replacement Ewes;

• Getting Started with a Distributor;

• Light-Extension Protocols for Out-of-Season Breeding;

• Freezing and Thawing Sheep Milk for Processing;

• Climate Change Mitigation on Your Farm.

Virtual tours of three dairy sheep operations (in Oregon, Quebec and Wisconsin) are also planned for the symposium. In Wisconsin, symposium participants will hear from Mariana Marques de Almeida at Ms. J and Co., milking 300+ Assaf and Assaf-cross ewes in a 32-bail milking parlor. In Oregon, Woody Babcock and Cora Wahl of Woodrow Farms milk around 300 Friesian-cross ewes and sell their milk to processors on the West Coast of the United States. And in Quebec, Audrey Boulet and Olivier Beaurivage of Les Brebis due Beaurivage milk 50 sheep, use GenOvis to produce EBVs for their flock, and market yarn and ready-to-wear wool garments at their farm store.

Participants will also hear about DSANA history and where the association is headed.

Visit DSANA.org to learn more.

Sheep Death Loss Report Released

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Animal Health Monitoring System has released the Sheep Death Loss 2020: Sheep and Lamb Predator and Nonpredator Death Loss in the United States report on Tableau. The interactive dashboard can be accessed at APHIS.USDA.gov/aphis/dashboards/tableau/sheep-death-dashboard.

The study is a collaborative effort between USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Wildlife Services, and NAHMS. The dashboard contains data from sheep death loss studies dating back to 1995.

The iterations occur every five years along with NASS’s Sheep and Goat survey. Sheep Death Loss 2020 report highlights:

• Approximately 5.2 million sheep and lambs were raised on 99,364 operations.

• Approximately 607,000 sheep and lambs – valuing $121.6 million – were lost in 2019.

• Sheep losses of 219,000 in 2019 accounted for 6.8 percent of the January 2020 adult sheep inventory; lamb losses of 388,000 in 2019 accounted for 12 percent of the 2019 lamb crop lost.

• In 2019, predation accounted for 32.6 percent of adult sheep losses and 40.1 percent of lamb losses.

• The leading known nonpredator causes of loss for adult sheep were old age, internal parasites and lambing problems. For lambs, the leading known nonpredator causes of loss were weather-related causes, internal parasites and lambing problems.

• The main predators causing loss of adult sheep were coyotes, dogs and bears. The main predators causing loss of lambs were coyotes, dogs and mountain lions.

• Approximately $51.4 million was spent by 77.1 percent of operators who used nonlethal predator damage management methods. The use of these methods has been trending upward since 2004. Methods included fencing, night penning and the use of lamb sheds.

• Approximately $4.7 million was spent by the 13.4 percent of operators who used lethal predator damage management methods.

• New information included in the latest report includes:

o Producer-reported costs of non-lethal and lethal predator damage management methods.

o Use of lethal predator damage management methods.

o Use of government assistance to manage predator damage.

o Use of official identification.

o Number of producers ceasing sheep operation and their reasons.

Questions and comments about the study or dashboard can be directed to Matthew Branan at Matthew.A.Branan@usda.gov.

500 Years of Wool in North America

KYLE PARTAIN
Sheep Industry News Editor

It all started innocently enough. A text from Montana producer John Helle to ASI Deputy Director Rita Samuelson informed us that 2021 was the 500th year of sheep in North America. The source? A postcard issued in 1971 celebrating 450 years of wool growers inhabiting the continent. The postcard claims Hernando Cortés introduced sheep to Panama in 1521, with sheep raising spreading both north and south from there.

As you might imagine, researching such historical claims isn’t an easy task, even in this modern age. I turned to two sources that seemed fairly trustworthy in my efforts: Sheep & Man by M.L. Ryder and former ASI staffer Paul Rodgers. The first source is such an extensively written history of the sheep industry around the world that one would assume Ryder wasn’t simply making stuff up for 850 pages. The second is a man I’ve often turned to for historical assessments in my six-plus years at ASI. I can, however, dispel the rumor that Rodgers was there to greet the first sheep upon their arrival in the Americas.

“During (Columbus’) second voyage (1493-96), he collected sheep and other livestock from the Canary Islands and these were almost certainly the first Old World farm animals to enter the Americas,” Ryder wrote in Sheep & Man. Spanish Conquistador Cortés is mentioned later, but Ryder does somewhat support the theory that it was Cortés who popularized sheep flocks in the Americas.

“The conquest of the Aztec population of Mexico by Cortés in 1519-21 was stimulated by a demand for grazing land that could not be fulfilled in the West Indian Islands,” Ryder wrote. “During the next decade, many Churro sheep were introduced from Hispaniola, but little attention was given to livestock until Cortés settled in the Oaxaca valley in 1530.”

Abruptly pulled from retirement to weigh in, Rodgers said, “There are reports in history of sheep being in America at least 100 years prior to the arrival of Cortés, however, documentation is not currently available.”

Regardless of the historical accuracy of statements on the Cortés postcard, the National Wool Growers Association celebrated the 450th milestone in style in 1971. Just a month before the annual convention, the U.S. Postal Service issued an America’s Wool stamp (seen below on the aforementioned postcard). Convention organizers – at the urging of USPS Regional Director George Saunders – set about creating an eight-foot, live version of the stamp at the annual meeting in Las Vegas.

Joe Chellimi of Exhibit Masters in Las Vegas took on the role of creating the massive stamp. He used piano wire to form a barrier across the front of the stamp that would keep the sheep in place. A.Z. Joy – a county agent in Ely, Nev. – took on the tall task of finding a ewe and lamb at a time of year when lambs were often difficult to procure in the area. Eventually, he found his way to Mike Drakulich, whose ewe, Bubbles, was scheduled to lamb two weeks before the convention.

Joy and his son, Bret, brought the ewe and lamb to Las Vegas for the big event. Bret even appeared on the cover of the National Wool Grower February 1971 issue alongside the live stamp and Miss Wool of America Gail Heinzmann.

I should also point out that it was National Wool Grower Associate Editor Gladys Mike who really took the idea by the fleece and ran with it, according to an article that appeared in the February 1971 issue. The event occurred two years (and one day) before I was born, so I can’t personally speak to the authenticity of Mike’s involvement any more than I can which European explorer first introduced sheep to North America. But Saunders certainly gave her plenty of credit for the live stamp.

“I am sure you share our appreciation, also, that it was the courage and confidence of Miss Gladys Mike that sustained us in our early decisions to create the ‘living stamp’ and which resulted in the contacts with Mr. Joy, which produced the ewe and lamb,” Saunders said at the time. “Miss Mike’s dedication to the interests of the wool industry and the postal service is its own best tribute.”

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