Image of sheep

To View the July 2022 Digital Issue — Click Here

Working to Fulfill Our Vision

Susan Shultz, ASI President

The ASI Executive Board is looking forward to its joint meeting with the American Lamb Board this month and all the productive conversations and actions that can occur regarding the future of our industry.

Thinking of the future of our industry, it is appropriate to focus on our ASI vision statement that we developed through our strategic planning process. Our vision is to produce a “Premium Protein and Premium Fiber that is Environmentally Regenerative and Economically Sustainable.” So how do we work toward accomplishing that worthy vision?

One thing we have learned through these past few years is that American consumers want to know the source of their food and fiber and that the production systems used to produce those items do not harm the environment. That is the perennial challenge of “feeding the world without harming the world.”

Those of us in production agriculture no longer work in a vacuum. Through the increased usage of social media and public awareness, our customers and consumers have given us a public face, whether we like it or not. I believe it is up to us to tell our story and spread the word about all the positive environmentally friendly practices we embrace in agriculture and specifically in the production of sheep.

We have the knowledge to produce a premium protein and a premium fiber, but we need to remain vigilant to continue to produce our product in a consumer-friendly manner.

We are fortunate to have a core group of outstanding scientists in our university and U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service locations that are actively collaborating on research projects to improve the productivity of sheep production in tandem with reducing our carbon footprint.

Both the recent American Lamb Board video – The American Lamb Story, featuring John Peavey – and the ASI Wool Council’s latest video – Unrivaled, featuring Cameron Krebs – are examples of sharing the positive story of our working to maintain a balanced ecosystem. These excellent videos focus on the production side of lamb and wool and can help educate our consumers and the general public.

You can view the Unrivaled video at and the ALB video at

Several of our producers do a wonderful job of telling their personal stories of raising sheep through videos, podcasts and social media sites, but we need more folks to share their positive actions. We all have a story to share, whether it is the story of targeted or managed grazing, incorporating improved genetics, using modern health protocols or the latest nutrition research in an effort to increase our efficiencies and decrease our environmental impact.

ASI will continue to work together with ALB and our state affiliates and membership to share the story that our industry is a believer in producing premium products for our consumers that are environmentally regenerative and economically sustainable. And that we are willing to work together to move our industry forward.

My best.

Marketing With Inflated Cost of Production

University of Wyoming

Having just completed a large 1000+ mile circle through Wyoming the same week I am writing this article, there were a few things that stood out.

I saw a lot of green grass, which was a welcome sight after last year’s brown/grey spring. I also saw several bands of sheep both out on the range and in farm pastures with a good crop of lambs. Finally, with all that driving time I heard a lot about the current state of the economy and the issues with inflation on the radio. All of this got me to thinking about how the sheep industry – from the producer’s perspective – will fair with the current challenges of inflation.

The feeder lamb market has been consistently strong with the three-market average price for 60 to 90 lb. lambs remaining above $200 per cwt. for more than a year now. The three-market average price for the first week of June 2022 was $248.07 per cwt. However – despite these strong prices for lambs – cost of production has also been steadily climbing during that same time period. While determining prices received is relatively easy for producers, it can often times be more difficult to have a handle on an accurate cost of production. With this in mind, I thought it would be interesting to look at average costs of production in comparison to the current prices.

The U.S. Baseline Lamb Cost of Production Analysis: 2018 Update is a publication that seeks to provide the American sheep industry with periodically updated estimates regarding the on-farm/ranch cost of lamb production. This publication can be found at In this publication, cost of production budgets were generated by interviewing producers in the four regions of Western, Northcentral, Southcentral and Eastern United States. A national cost of production budget was also generated from the four regions.

These budgets represent an average of the producers interviewed, while your own cost of production might be very different from those reported. These budgets should not be used to calculate individual profit projections, but can be useful in looking at national averages.

In 2018, the total cost of production estimate for each region was as follows: Western – $160.50 per ewe; Northcentral – $157.44 per ewe; Southcentral – $134.13 per ewe; and Eastern – $180.59 per ewe. The national average cost of production from those four regions was $157.07 per ewe.

Returns were also estimated for each region using a singular set of pricing assumptions for lambs and wool. It is important to note that individual producer returns could be significantly different from these estimates given differences in market timing, weights, end points, etc. The assumptions were standardized to create consistency in the budget analysis.

That said, the return projections on a per ewe basis were as follows: Western – a loss of $15.67; Northcentral – a gain of $16.47; Southcentral – a loss of $1.55; and Eastern – a loss of $22.77. The national return was estimated at a loss of $6.20. The prices used to calculate these returns were the three-market average feeder lamb price of $1.81 per pound and the greased wool price of $1.75 per pound.

Using the estimated returns, I calculated a break-even price per pound for 75-pound feeder lambs in each region in the table below. Using the regional budgets, the average price needed to break-even in 2018 ranged from $1.61 per pound to $2.13 per pound. The price needed to break-even using the national average budget was $1.90 per pound.

So, what does 2022 look like? The U.S. Baseline Lamb Cost of Production Analysis has not been updated, but we all have a sense of rising costs of production. While it is difficult to accurately reflect the new cost of production without doing a full update of this publication, another simpler approach is to adjust the costs for inflation. This simple inflation calculation is a good approximation, but again might not reflect your actual costs of production. However, using this simple calculation, we can see that costs have likely increased significantly. The adjusted cost of production (2018 dollars to 2022 dollars) on a per ewe basis for each region is as follows: Western – $186.74; Northcentral – $183.18; Southcentral – $156.05; and Eastern – $210.11. The estimate for the national average cost of production in 2022 would be $182.74 per ewe.

I thought it would be helpful to go back to those same 2018 budgets and adjust the cost of production with the new estimates to determine the new break-even price for each region. I updated the cull ewe prices and wool prices to current 2022 prices so that we could focus in solely on the price needed for lambs that would provide us with a break-even.

Using the regional budgets, the average price needed to break-even in 2022 ranges from $1.86 per pound to $2.47 per pound. The price needed to break-even using the national average budget was $2.17 per pound. This represents approximately a 13 percent increase in the price needed to break-even from 2018 to 2022.

Again, your individual break-even will be different from these estimated values. You can utilize the templates provided in the U.S. Baseline Lamb Cost of Production Analysis to determine your own actual cost of production.

Once you have this number, you can then calculate the price you would need to break-even on your own lambs. However, this analysis is useful in helping us understand that there has likely been at least a 13 percent increase in the price needed to break-even.

The three-market average price for the first week of June 2022 on 60 to 90 lb. feeder lambs was $248.07 per cwt. This was down from the last week of April high of $315.38 per cwt. As of the June 6 forecast, the Livestock Marketing Information Center was still projecting a strong fall with prices for the three-market average in Quarter 3 ranging from $272 to $279 per cwt. and Quarter 4 ranging from $270 to $278 per cwt.

While these projections remain above the estimated break-even prices, it is also evident that with the rising cost of production there is less room for error. Producers certainly will need to keep a close eye on their costs to maintain positive returns.


Wool Outlook

After a couple of weeks of losses in the Australian Eastern Market Indicator in May, the EMI strengthened in early June. After a loss of 14 Australian cents per kg clean the week of May 25 and a loss of 6 cents per kg clean the week of June 1 with the market closing at 1,414 Australian cents per kg clean or U.S. $4.59 per lb., the EMI increased 24 cents to close at 1,438 Australian cents per kg clean or U.S. $4.71 per lb. in week 49 of the current market year on June 8.

This was the highest weekly value posted since March 2020. At the time this article is printed we will be through the final week of the marketing year and starting on the next year.

The Australian EMI report showed prices on an upward swing across all micron levels for the week ending on June 10. Price increases ranged from U.S. $0.15 per lb. to U.S. $0.18 per lb. for micron levels between 17 and 22 as demand for fine wools remains strong this year. Micron levels of 26 and 28 saw the smallest gains of U.S. $0.02 per lb. and U.S. $0.03 per lb., respectively, as the demand for coarse wool remains sluggish.

There is much uncertainty with the current economic environment and its potential impact on consumer demand for wool. The exchange rate between the Australian dollar and the U.S. dollar will continue to influence the wool market as the international economy adjusts to rising inflation.

If price inflation continues as forecasted, consumers’ willingness to pay for wool products could change as any slowdown in the world economy could also cause a reduction in the demand for wool.

Producers Needed for WS Advisory Committee

The American Sheep Industry Association is accepting applications from producers who would like to be nominated to serve on the National Wildlife Services Advisory Committee.

Interested parties should submit the necessary background information form to ASI Executive Director Peter Orwick at by July 15.
The advisory committee provides guidance from diverse stakeholders interested in the Wildlife Services program – including, agriculture, wildlife management, animal welfare, and public health and safety interests.

Annual meetings of the NWSAC allow the public an opportunity to participate and provide input to the Secretary of Agriculture on overall policy and guidance for the operation of the WS program, resources to accomplish the WS mission, impacts of depredating wildlife, public health and safety problems created by birds and other wildlife, and research activities and priorities to address wildlife damage management needs.

The committee also serves as a public forum enabling those affected by the WS program to have a voice in the program’s policies.

The committee was created by the Secretary of Agriculture under the Federal Advisory Committee Act, and members are appointed for a two-year term.

Committee members are chosen to represent the diverse interests in the WS program and the multitude of industries to whom we provide services.

For the background information form, visit


Cloverleaf Selected for AWA Audits

ASI has selected CloverLeaf Animal Welfare Systems as the official American Wool Assurance auditing firm, a step that was necessary to allow America’s wool producers to achieve Level III – Certified status within the program.

“We’re confident that CloverLeaf will be a valuable partner in working with our wool producers to help them achieve their goals within the American Wool Assurance program,” said ASI Deputy Director Rita Samuelson. “We received bids from several auditing companies, but appreciate that CloverLeaf specializes in animal welfare certification, training, facility design and government response support.”

CloverLeaf President Jason McAlister said wool growers will find his company knowledgeable about agriculture in general and eager to work with producers to see that they meet program standards.

“What I want producers to know about us is that we are everyday folks with ag backgrounds and down-to-earth values,” McAlister said. “We are not a corporate auditing firm with hundreds of auditors. I hire and train every CloverLeaf auditor to be respectful of your time, your process and you as a person, and producers are encouraged to call me personally with any questions.”

CloverLeaf auditors have completed online training, passed exams and are preparing to complete shadow audits this summer as the final step in the AWA training process.

Wool growers looking to move from Level II – Process Verified to Level III will need to complete an audit. They’ll then need to undergo an evaluation every two years – using one of nearly two dozen trained evaluators from around the United States – and an audit every four years with CloverLeaf. An audit might seem daunting to those who have never undertaken the process, but McAlister said producers shouldn’t stress over the process.

“We will call and visit with you over the phone or on Zoom, giving you all the information you need about our visit. We will make sure you know exactly what we will be looking for, and we will send you the standard and the actual audit form we will be using,” he said. “We want everyone to have a good understanding of what we do, so that it doesn’t feel like an investigation. We are here to verify the good practices that you do daily. There will be no secrets as everyone will have the opportunity to ask questions and be prepared.

“We have clients call us with questions multiple times, and that is perfectly acceptable. We encourage questions. We will set up a time and date to come to visit you well in advance to help keep travel costs low. We will conduct the audit as stated with no surprises and discuss our findings in real-time. We will follow up with you via phone or Zoom to discuss corrective measures, if needed.”

The cost of an audit is $500 plus travel costs – which is a third of the average industry price for audits in the beef, pork and poultry industries according to McAlister.

The AWA standards focus on year-round quality care with regard to health and nutrition, effective facilities, low-stress transportation and handling, proper castration and tail docking, and safe, humane shearing. With multiple levels of accreditation to match every grower and buyer’s needs, wool growers of any size operation can become involved with the AWA program and reap its rewards.

Consumers are demanding to know how and where their products were created. With AWA, we can demonstrate how we raise our sheep and benefit from sharing that information. By voluntarily providing assurances to customers, wool growers have the opportunity to gain access into new markets. AWA is a took to help wool growers be competitive in the marketplace while creating a positive public perception of the American sheep industry.

To learn more, visit, or email

143 Sheep Die While Fleeing Wolves in Idaho


Two adult wolves trying to attack a band of sheep grazing on the backside of Shaw Mountain caused a sheep pile-up in a steep gully, killing 143 ewes and lambs, state and federal officials confirmed in late May.

The sheep were owned by Wilder, Idaho, sheep rancher Frank Shirts. In an interview with the Idaho Rangeland Resources Commission, Shirts said the wolf attack occurred during the daylight hours, a rarity. His sheepherders saw the two wolves running into the band of sheep and watched as the animals fell into the steep gully to their death, he said.

It’s the largest and worst incident of wolf predation that Shirts has experienced since gray wolves were imported from Canada and released into Central Idaho in 1995, he said. The sheep were among a band of about 2,500 ewes and lambs that crossed Idaho State Highway 55 in Eagle, Idaho, in mid-March and grazed through the Boise, Idaho, Foothills, following the green up to higher pastures.

“The wolves scared the hell out of them and pushed them into that little canyon and piled them in there,” Shirts said. “They didn’t consume anything. The sheep just suffocated in the pileup and died. We work to make things good for those sheep every day, so it’s a shame to lose them.”

Shirts said he would apply for compensation funds to cover the cost of the sheep predation.

Idaho Department of Fish and Game officials confirmed that they authorized Wildlife Services to take control action in the Boise River Wildlife Management Area – including Shaw Mountain – through the end of May. That order has expired.

“We know that wolves are present on the Boise Front,” said Brian Pearson, regional communication manager for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. “This occurred in Game Management Unit #39, which is an area in which we have chronic livestock depredation events. To that end, we have expanded seasons and methods of take in Unit #39, and often have to address depredations using control actions.”

Two of Shirts’ sheepherders – who stay with the sheep 24 hours a day, seven days a week – managed to chase off the two wolves, officials said. Two Great Pyrenees guard dogs that were watching over the sheep flock ran for cover and were not injured, Shirts said. The herders and the guard dogs are two methods that Shirts uses to protect the sheep from predators.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services sent a wildlife specialist to the site to confirm the kill, said Idaho State Director Jared Hedelius.

A helicopter surveyed the area the following day to look for wolves, he said. The wildlife specialist spent several days monitoring the situation, and the wolves did not seem to return to the area, Hedelius said.

Idaho Department of Fish and Game officials said they are unsure whether the wolves were dispersing from a pack or whether a wolf pack is operating in the Shaw Mountain area.

“We just felt that public needs to know these kinds of things are happening up there in the Boise Front,” said Emmett, Idaho, sheep rancher John Peterson, president of the Idaho Wool Growers Association.

“This isn’t more than a few miles from Table Rock,” added Shirts.

The Idaho Wolf Depredation Control Board works cooperatively with IDFG and Wildlife Services to address wolf/livestock conflicts where they are occurring on a chronic basis. The board also works with IDFG and Wildlife Services to address unacceptable levels of gray wolf predation in elk management zones with predation management plans or where ungulate populations are below objectives.

The state of Idaho has the most wolves in the Rocky Mountain West, with a population of about 1,500 animals.

Washington Court Refuses to Halt Domestic Grazing


In early June, a federal district court in Washington ruled definitively against plaintiffs Western Watersheds Project and WildEarth Guardians in their lawsuit seeking to halt domestic sheep grazing on allotments in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. The Western Resources Legal Center represented grazing permittee Martinez Livestock in the case.

In part, the plaintiffs had argued that the U.S. Forest Service violated the National Environmental Policy Act by continuing to authorize grazing on the allotments without assessing new information related to potential interactions between domestic sheep and bighorn sheep.

U.S. District Judge Thomas O. Rice of the Eastern District of Washington found that plaintiffs’ concerns were “premature,” given that the Forest Service had acknowledged it had already begun the process of conducting supplemental NEPA analysis.

This win is a testament to the value of membership with industry associations such as the Public Lands Council and the American Sheep Industry Association, which strengthens WRLC’s ability to help in the courtroom. The court’s decision relied on Congress’s “unequivocal” delegation to the Forest Service and other land management agencies to set the priority and timing of environmental reviews for grazing decisions under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act and that, while such reviews are ongoing, the terms and conditions of grazing permits “shall be continued.” 43 U.S.C. § 1752(i), (c)(2).

These important provisions help ensure the government’s backlog of NEPA reviews do not negatively impact public lands ranchers – and were codified via a congressional appropriations rider in 2014 largely thanks to the hard work of PLC.

Congratulations are also in order to Martinez Livestock, whose exemplary grazing record was instrumental in defeating the plaintiffs’ previous preliminary injunction motion. Along with data showing an upward trend of bighorn sheep populations in the area and robust use of best management practices, the court had cited the Martinez’s record in finding that alleged risks to bighorn sheep were highly speculative.

The court’s ruling can be found at

Repurposing Mines for Sheep Production

Before King Coal reigned in the Appalachian Mountains of Eastern Kentucky – and surrounding areas – sheep were a common sight. Patrick Angel hopes the small ruminants can be a part of reviving the region as the country moves away from coal as a primary energy source.

The retired forester and soil scientist for the U.S. Department of the Interior devoted a lifetime to reclaiming areas used for surface mining of coal, mostly in his home state of Kentucky. And when he looks at the seemingly countless acres of reclaimed Appalachian Mountains land stretching from Pennsylvania to Alabama and encompassing eight states, he sees a grazing mecca that might just rejuvenate the area and the American sheep industry at the same time.

“The mountains of Eastern Kentucky are well known for their natural resources: timber, coal and natural gas,” Angel said. “But there is a new natural resource that is often forgotten or ignored, and that is the vast acreage of reclaimed land that has been surface mined. It’s been reclaimed specifically for hay and pasture lands. Much of the Kentucky and West Virginia coal fields look like the prairie lands of the Dakotas or Nebraska.”

The surface mining method known as mountain top removal “basically takes the top of a mountain two or three coals seams at a time,” according to Angel. What’s left is a plateau of gently rolling hills that provide ideal grazing opportunities for sheep.

“And the vast majority – in Kentucky we have 750,000 acres alone – is unused and ungrazed,” Angel said. “These are fragile environments that are quickly turning into jungles of invasive, non-native shrubs. The two things you can do on it are plant trees and graze small ruminants. Or, you can do both. As a retired forester and soil scientist, my goal was always to get more trees planted. But being a sheep farmer on the side, I look around at all of this wonderful grass and legume pasture and think, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun if we could put 1,200 sheep on this?’”

That would make for a sizeable operation in the Eastern half of the United States, but it’s just a drop in the bucket of the land’s potential. There’s no reason, Angel said, why the reclaimed lands couldn’t become home to large bands of range sheep similar to what the industry is used to in the Rocky Mountain region.

“Before a surface mine can be initiated, the landowner chooses their targeted post-mining land use. Most landowners throughout the region opted to have the land reclaimed to hay and pasture. Ironically, however, very few of these hay and pasture acres currently support livestock production,” wrote Angel and University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Agent Will Bowling in a proposal that has caught the attention of leaders at both the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Kentucky Department of Agriculture. “Several reasons contribute to this lack of utilization, but two of the foundational challenges both stem from mine soil compaction that is a relic of the reclamation process: the most commonly occurring forage species on surface mines are not palatable to cattle, and fence construction is prohibitively difficult.

“As a result of these inherent challenges, the vast majority of these mine-associated grasslands currently lie fallow and are quickly being populated by aggressive, non-native invasive plants. However, we believe an approach that embraces the existing conditions on these sites could lead to a financially successful and widely scalable model of agricultural production that would at the same time mitigate site conditions and control the spread of exotic plant species.”

Sheep have already proven their ability to grow and thrive in the environment as a number of the state’s sheep producers run flocks on reclaimed surface mine land already.

“Several years ago, my wife and I were looking to buy a farm and the one I bought might not have been that appealing to a lot of buyers, but I knew I wanted to run sheep on it,” said Keaton Smith, DVM. “I’ve always had a dream of raising sheep and in college I took a sheep production course under Dr. (Don) Ely. Then I went on to vet school and just loved working with small ruminants.

“Now, I’ve got 177 sheep on rotation and doing wonderful. The farm I bought had been abandoned for 10 years, but the sheep have improved my pastures exponentially. So, I’m really proud of what they’re doing on my farm. Because it was reclaimed strip mine land, it was cheaper. But I absolutely believe it will support my sheep very well. My goal is to grow the flock to around 300 ewes.”

The land works so well for grazing that Dr. Smith is able to put up 600 bales of hay a year while cutting behind the sheep in his rotational grazing system.

“And I use that hay to feed the flock through the winter, so I’m not having to buy feed,” he added. “Sheep and goats were just made for this land. Maybe I’m biased because I love raising sheep, but I see so much potential on this land that really isn’t being used for anything right now most cases. I believe it very easily could support large flocks of 10,000 to 12,000 sheep like you see out west.”

To prove that, Angel is working to develop a pilot project that will introduce a thousand or more sheep to reclaimed land.

“We want to create a demonstration project, using a similar concept to the one that exists in the Rocky Mountains,” Angel said. “For the first time, we’re talking about doing the same thing. What we need is to bring in a producer from somewhere out West to teach us how that model really works. We’ve got experience using guard dogs and herding dogs, but we don’t have experience using them on a thousand or five thousand sheep.”

The group is hoping to have its demonstration project up and running in 2023, but is working now to secure grant money for the project. In addition, Angel is looking for knowledge and expertise that might come from hiring a veteran Western producer to oversee operations in the year to come.

In early June, Angel and a steering committee met with a land agent for Kentucky River Properties – one of the largest land holding companies in the state. The company has committed to a lease of 5,000 acres as part of the demonstration project that Angel believes is essential to bringing this grand idea to fruition.

Another option for many of these reclaimed lands is the installation of solar arrays – an idea that would add even more value to growing sheep numbers in the area.

“We want to get the word out that this opportunity exists in the coal fields of poverty-stricken Appalachia,” Angel said. “There’s a variety of reasons to make this project work. We just need to get it started somehow. This would provide an opportunity to put these lands to use, to grow our local economies and to grow the American sheep industry substantially.”

As mentioned earlier, it would also allow the area to return to its early-day roots as a major sheep producing region.

“Before there was Kentucky Fried Chicken, there was Kentucky Spring Lamb,” Angel said. “At one point – from the late 1800s up until World War II – you could find Kentucky Spring Lamb in fine restaurants all over the East Coast. We were the second largest sheep producing state in the country at one time, and these mountain farms were known for producing high quality lamb.”

The project could prove successful throughout the region, not just Kentucky.

“This is an Appalachian coal field opportunity,” Angel said. “And that includes parts of several states: Alabama, Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. All of these places have had surface mining operations.

“This model would utilize economies of scale to access existing commodity chains, but success with this basic framework could create ancillary opportunities in the future, including the expansion of the sheep and goat industry, protection of lands susceptible to invasion by exotics, and green jobs creation in the face of a declining coal-based economy. We submit that this basic model could create new, sustainable wealth from assets and resources currently available within Central Appalachia.”

Young Entrepreneurs: Cody Chambliss

At 35, Cody Chambliss might be the old man of ASI’s Young Entrepreneurs group, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a young producer who stays busier than the South Dakota cowboy. A divorce put him back to “ground zero” four years ago, but he and Alexis Shoup (who works full-time as a registered nurse, but helps a lot with the livestock) have since built a diverse livestock operation that includes 200 Merino ewes, cattle, hogs and goats. Cody also works a full-time, off-farm job as grain warehouse manager for the state’s public utilities commission, so there’s never a shortage of work to be done.

I grew up with a small Suffolk operation, then transitioned into cattle in high school. I went to college and couldn’t afford to pay anyone to take care of my cows, so I sold them. Got back into sheep eventually. Had sheep most of my life. I grew up in central South Dakota. Back on the home place for now until we find a place of our own. I’m the only one in the family with sheep. Land availability and capital input are two of the main reasons I didn’t get back into cows. I do like the sheep. Don’t remember the last time I was kicked by a sheep, but the biggest reason is the availability of labor. Sheep stuff we can do mostly by ourselves.

With a state job that mostly pays the bills, I can do some different things with the livestock operation. Working on maintaining my wool clip and my lambing percentage right now. Hope to improve those numbers. I’ll probably stay in the 250 ewe range until some more land becomes available. I’m always looking for some more land. We kind of dabble in everything. Sheep and cattle will probably always be the biggest parts of our operation, but we wanted to diversify to spread out the revenue.

Previously, we shipped the wool through Roswell and marketed there. But with the fall in the market and wool not moving the last couple of years, we sought out other options to increase our wool price in a tough marketing time. That’s how we got involved with Zeilinger Wool Company in Michigan. I think it’s really exciting for producers to see where their wool goes and what it goes in to. There were lots of times where I might have heard who bought my wool, but I wouldn’t know what products it was going in to. Nice to see it stay in the U.S., get processed in the U.S. and become a product on the shelf in a store here. We’re mostly making socks with them to start, but it could grow into some different things.

I’ve been involved with the South Dakota Sheep Growers Association and ASI for several years now. Hopefully, we can get the Young Entrepreneurs up and running a little stronger. I’m just trying to learn and network with people. We’re such a small industry, we need to network so that we can help each other out from time to time. Whether it’s on wool, lambs or buying cull ewes, I think it’s beneficial. I’m a person who tries to problem solve and think outside of the box. I just feel a need to get the younger generations involved and maybe those younger members can relate to someone who’s 15 years older as opposed to their grandparent’s age. I was a state FFA officer, and that put me into some leadership positions and taught me a lot about how to deal with people. Times are changing in our industry, and I think the younger producers need to be involved in getting lamb to people of a younger age. I think we’re starting to see that trend a little bit. Industry wise, bringing a younger person to the table can bring some new ideas. Change isn’t always good, but sometimes change and a younger voice can help others think a bit differently.

I’d like to develop a lamb product for a school lunch program, and get kids wanting something different. A burger, a sausage or a brat, something along that line. Every time I bring it up, I’m met with the thought that lamb is a superior meat and that it is for white table cloth restaurants. But we still have cuts that don’t fit there. We really need to be open to change and to marketing. If you just follow traditional marketing methods, then you might miss out on some things. I’m always looking for opportunities because I like staying busy. The only vacations I ever take are sheep related. The ASI Convention and the Lamb Summit/YE Tour are my two big trips for this year.

After the American Lamb Board’s Lamb Summit in Michigan in August, we’re doing a YE Tour of the state’s sheep industry. ASI hasn’t really visited that area much, to my knowledge. A lot of the operations up there are intensive care, intensive lambing. We have a wool mill there that is coming on strong. I’m looking forward to working with the YE’s on the Michigan trip. I think this group is a door to open younger producers’ eyes to the industry as a whole. ALB, ASI, the National Lamb Feeders, they all play an important role in the industry, and they all have to work together to move the industry forward.

NSIIC Accepting Grant Proposals

The National Sheep Industry Improvement Center’s Board of Directors recently announced that it is accepting grant proposals from July 1 through Sept. 15. The grants must be designed to improve the American sheep industry.

The sheep center has budgeted about $300,000 to support projects consistent with the grant program. The average grant amount in the last four years has been about $29,000. Financial assistance provided by the sheep center must accomplish one or more of the following objectives:

1. Strengthen and enhance the production and marketing of sheep and sheep products in the United States through the improvement of infrastructure, business, resource development and the development of innovative approaches to solve long term problems.

2. Provide leadership training and education to the industry stakeholders.

3. Enhance sheep and sheep products in the United States through assistance to all segments of the industry to address sustainable production and marketing of sheep and sheep products.

4. Promote marketing of sheep and sheep products through an organized method that can measure tangible results.

5. Enhance the sheep industry by coordinating information exchange and by seeking mutual understanding and marketing within the industry community.

The sheep center will review each proposal, recommend funding and submit final recommendations to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service for approval.

For more information about applying for a grant, contact NSIIC Program Manager Steve Lee at 207-236-6567 or, or send mail to National Sheep Industry Improvement Center, 1578 Spring Water Way, Highlands Ranch, CO 80129.

The sheep center was established as part of the 2008 Farm Bill and was awarded funding by the Agricultural Marketing Service to be used for the Sheep Production and Marketing Grant Program as part of the 2018 Farm Bill. Grant funding can be used on activities designed to strengthen and enhance the production or marketing of sheep and sheep products in the United States through infrastructure development, business development, production, resource development, and market and environmental research.

Additional information about the sheep center is available on the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center website at

FAS Boosts Ag Exports, Wool

Programs to help American farmers build markets overseas boosted agricultural exports by an average of $9.6 billion annually from 1977 to 2019, representing 13.7 percent of total agricultural export value, and returning $24.50 in additional net export revenue for every dollar spent on export promotion.

Those are the key conclusions from a study commissioned by the U.S. Grains Council on behalf of members of the U.S. Agricultural Export Development Council to evaluate the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development program – both of which are utilized by ASI.

“These programs provide additional funding for ASI to open, develop and expand markets for American wool all around the world,” said ASI Deputy Director Rita Samuelson. “As we’ve seen first with the trade war in China and then the COVID-19 pandemic, it is crucial to the American wool industry that we develop a variety of buyers for American wool. These programs play a crucial role in that process.”

The MAP and FMD programs are authorized by the Farm Bill and administered by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. The programs form part of the public-private partnerships that offer competitive cost-share grants for foreign market development activities to USAEDC members. The study reported that these market development programs effectively leveraged industry contributions, averaging between 70 and 77 percent of expenditures from 2013 to 2019, valued at an estimated annual average of $567 million.

The study found that from 2002 to 2019, foreign market development investment through the MAP and FMD programs:

• Increased farm cash receipts by $12.2 billion (3.4 percent);

• Contributed $45 billion annually in economic output and $22.3 billion annually in gross domestic product;

• Created an estimated 225,800 jobs across the entire economy.

“The organizations that comprise our membership use these export programs to great effect,” said USAEDC Executive Director Lorena Alfaro. “The export programs not only boost the entire agricultural sector, but they also have a multiplier effect throughout the entire U.S. economy, supporting jobs and income in a range of industries.”

The full study is available online at

Hot Tips for Hot Weather

Sheep are well adapted to handle the hot summer weather and are less susceptible to heat stress than other livestock species. Yet they aren’t 100 percent immune to the impacts of rising temperatures – especially in humid conditions.

Extreme temperatures and high humidity can result in increased respiration rates, pneumonia challenges and reduced body condition. Take a few simple steps to adjust your management and nutrition programs to offset heat stress in your flock.


Strategize nutrient placement

Sheep that are thinner during the summer months might experience more challenges from heat stress than animals in appropriate body condition. Providing supplemental protein and energy can help sheep maintain a 2.5 to 3.5 body condition score and help ensure they don’t lose too much weight going into breeding season.

Providing supplemental nutrition can also help improve grazing efficiency. Sheep don’t like to stray too far from shade and water areas in warmer temperatures. Strategically placing protein tubs in better grass areas can draw sheep toward high-quality grass and increase forage intake.

On the other hand, it’s recommended to place mineral sources close to water and shade areas. It’s important to ensure they consume the necessary amounts of mineral to maintain body functions. If they have to work too hard to access mineral, they might not eat enough.


Support reproductive efficiency

Maintaining body condition score is essential to prepare animals for breeding. During heat stress, sheep may reduce feed intake and lose body condition. This can impact fertility because ewes need an appropriate level of body fat to cycle and become pregnant.

BCS is also important when it comes to breeding bucks. The rule of thumb is bucks will travel twice as far and eat half as much during breeding season than the rest of the year.

BCS for breeding bucks is a balancing act. If they have too much condition, they won’t be aggressive enough or cover enough ground. If they are under-conditioned, they won’t have sufficient energy to breed, especially in extreme heat.


Provide fresh, clean water

Water is a critical nutrient, not only to help heat dissipation and keep sheep cool but also to help encourage feed intake. Late summer forages typically have lower moisture content, and with the added heat, sheep might need to drink more water.

During periods of high temperatures and humidity, consider providing additional water sources to increase intake. Place waterers in shaded areas to control water temperature and keep the water clean and fresh. Evaluate the area around the water source to prevent dirt and debris from contaminating the water.


Other management considerations

• Shade: In range flock situations, shade can’t always be provided. But when shade is available, it can help reduce heat stress. Consider providing portable structures, shade cloths or moving sheep to pastures with trees or additional shade during extreme heat to give sheep a break from the sun.

• Housed sheep: Consider adding ventilation, decreasing stocking density and providing a fly control supplement.

• De-worming: The last thing your sheep need during hot temperatures is to deal with a parasite challenge. Implement a preventative de-worming plan to reduce stress on animals during the summer.

• Animal handling: Avoid transporting or handling animals during extreme heat.

Managing heat stress doesn’t have to stress you out. With these simple adjustments, you can keep sheep cool and productive all summer long.

Visit to learn more. Clay Elliott, Ph.D., is a small ruminant technical specialist with Purina Animal Nutrition. Contact him at

Taziki’s Offers Summer Lamb Burger


Taziki’s Mediterranean Café and the American Lamb Board are partnering on a summer promotion to offer a new burger, made with 100 percent American lamb.
Taziki’s Lamb Burger is made up of two griddle-cooked, seasoned lamb patties on a toasted kaiser bun with feta cheese, sliced tomato, grilled onions and peppers, and Taziki sauce.

“Taziki’s is known for serving fresh ingredients and we thank them for their commitment to using American lamb in their lamb burgers. Serving local lamb supports the nation’s shepherds and their families,” said Peter Camino, ALB chairman from Buffalo, Wyo.

The Mediterranean Burger concept featuring 100 percent American lamb was tested last year in a limited number of Taziki’s locations with great success and sales that exceeded expectations. Headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., Taziki’s Mediterranean Café has 90 locations spanning 16 states nationally, with most locations in the Southeast. If you have a Taziki’s near you, be sure to check it out.

For a list of locations, visit

To celebrate the lamb burger launch, Taziki’s is giving away Blackstone griddles and a Taziki’s prize pack. A social media campaign and signage in all 90 locations are also part of the summer promotion.

“We’re excited to put our unique Taziki’s twist on the current lamb popularity boom,” said Taziki’s CEO Dan Simpson. “We know our customers are looking for a hearty summer meal, and the lamb burger is the perfect comfort food.”

ALB Offers Promotional Funding


The American Lamb Board has combined its two industry funding/support programs, the Local Lamb Promotional Funds Program and the Supplier Cooperative Funds Program. The new program – the Promotional Partnership Program – is designed to create more flexibility for industry partners.

The program is designed to support local or branded promotions that expand ALB’s efforts to build awareness and demand for American lamb.
Most recently, ALB’s Industry Funding Program has supported the Washington Wool Growers Association’s Lamburger Booth at the Central Washington State Fair, the Idaho Wool Growers Association’s lamb sampling at a consumer harvest festival, and the Indiana Sheep Association’s activation at a food and wine festival in Indianapolis.

There are four categories of funding/support available:

1. Cash sponsorships for events or educational conferences. This category is primarily intended for industry organizations who have existing, successful events or conferences that they host regularly with existing sponsorship packages available.

2. Donation requests for promotional materials from, such as spice tins, reusable grocery bags, hats, aprons and socks, up to $100 value. Materials should be used for non-industry events.

3. Donation requests for lamb products to sample at local events or conferences (cannot be industry related). Requests cannot exceed $1,000 and if the partner is providing the lamb, an invoice is required to reflect reasonable wholesale pricing.

4. Branded promotional partnerships. This category is designed for lamb suppliers and direct marketers to help offset the cost of branded marketing and promotional activities. These activities could include but are not limited to participation at events or conferences, development of point-of-sale materials and/or packaging, website design, digital marketing and in-store sampling. This category requires the partner to invest at least 50 percent of the total cost of the project and provide documentation.

All applicants are required to acknowledge ALB support and provide a short final written report detailing the results. ALB staff is happy to provide consulting and guidance to industry members on event execution, social media campaigns and website development. To request an application, contact

Photo Contest Deadline is Coming

Sheep Industry News Editor

As you’re reading this issue, you have less than a month remaining to enter the 2022 ASI Photo Contest. That’s still plenty of time to grab your camera – or your smartphone – and take some award-winning shots. While production cycles vary, chances are you won’t be taking photos of shearing or lambing this time of year. But the longer days, gorgeous summer sunsets and, in some areas, lush green grass of this time of year provide exceptional opportunities for any would-be photographer.

Or maybe you’ve already got plenty of great shots to submit, you just need to make time to sort through them. In a digital age where many of us – myself included – take 10 shots of something we would have only taken one of back when we had to have film developed, sorting through photos can take some time. Subtle differences in those 10 shots that are nearly identical could mean the difference between an award winner and an honorable mention. Maybe you should start checking the weather forecast for a rainy day – does anyone still have those? – and plan to spend that day choosing your entries.

You can find complete contest rules at The deadline to enter is Aug. 1. While the rules stipulate 5 p.m. mountain time – closing time for the ASI office – as the deadline, I’m willing to accept any entries that show up before midnight that day. A writer friend of mine who was particularly challenged by deadlines used to remind me that getting something in at 11:59 on deadline day still means you met the deadline. So, I opt for her theory on this issue.

The five categories in this year’s contest are:

• Shepherd/Shepherdess – Photographs of producers, shepherds or others working with sheep.

• Scenic (East) – Photographs of sheep located east of the Mississippi River. Photos entered in this category cannot include people.

• Scenic (West) – Photographs of sheep located west of the Mississippi River. Photos entered in this category cannot include people.

• Working Dogs and Protection Animals – Photographs in this category should show herding dogs, livestock guardian dogs or any other livestock protection animal in their natural environments. Photos must also include sheep in some fashion as proof that these truly are working animals.

• Open – Photographs with subject matter that does not fall into the four above-listed categories.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to encourage you to send me the photos in the largest possible photo size. This can make a difference in the judging process. Those of you who have seen our October issue with contest winners in recent years know that I like to run horizontal winners as two-page spreads. But I can’t do that if you send me a file that can only be used as a 3 X 5 in the magazine. Unaltered files straight from your camera or smart phone are generally fine for me to run quite large.

Some email programs will also offer you the ability to – or automatically even – reduce the file sizes when sending. Please don’t choose this option. If the files you are sending are large, then just send me a separate email for each photo. Generally, problems can occur if you try to send five large photos in the same email. The photographs we receive each year are wonderful representations of our industry, and I want to spotlight them in an appropriate manner, which is why I ask for the large file sizes.

Thanks to all of you who either already have or will enter the photo contest this year. The association appreciates the time and energy you put into helping ASI staff portray the industry in its best light.

Skip to content