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Young Entrepreneurs Are Positive, Engaged in Industry

Susan Shultz, ASI President

It was so refreshing to see the bright faces and listen to the optimism of the young people at our ASI Annual Convention this year. It was not only the conversations about the good lamb prices that producers are receiving, but it was the engagement in our industry that struck me as such a positive trend for us moving forward.

Along with a dynamic group of young producers, our industry is benefitting from an influx of young state executives, young researchers and new extension sheep specialists. This group had an opportunity beyond the main agenda to network and share their successes and failures in building their operations through the ASI Young Entrepreneurs Committee.

Young Entrepreneurs – as we know it today – was the brainchild of ASI Past President Burdell Johnson of North Dakota. When he served as an ASI officer, Burdell was adamant that ASI should reach out to the next generation. He wanted to attract more families to our convention and provide programming for youth. It was called the ASI Youth Taskforce in 2008, and I was asked by Burdell to chair the committee that first year.

For the next two years – led by Burdell and Dr. Jill Swannack of Washington – the Youth Taskforce focused on attracting families and their wide age range of children along with young adults to the Annual Convention. In 2011, the focus evolved and was narrowed to engaging young adult sheep farmers and ranchers ages 20 to 40 and renaming the committee the Emerging Youth Entrepreneurs. We now call the committee ASI Young Entrepreneurs, or just YE for short. In the past 14 years, the initial intent of this committee has never changed in that ASI wanted to reach out and engage the next generation. Leadership development is now a key component of this effort and many former and current Young Entrepreneurs serve as state association directors, state executives, state sheep extension specialists and even as an ASI officer.

The 2022 ASI Young Entrepreneurs executive board is led by a leadership team co-chaired by Ryan Boner of Wyoming and Cody Chambliss of South Dakota, along with members Ashley Larson of Washington, Kip Krebs of Oregon and Brady Evans of Texas. They have assumed the responsibility to coordinate YE activities, and plan the agenda for next years’ convention in Fort Worth.

If you are between the ages of 20 and 40 and would like to become involved with the next generation of leaders in our sheep industry, please contact a member of the YE leadership team and/or join their Facebook page at American Sheep Industry Emerging Entrepreneurs.

My best.

This Year’s Promising Start

DAVID ANDERSON, PH.D.
Texas A&M University

This year is off to a promising start, with live lamb and meat prices continuing their high levels from 2021. But those high prices have come with high production costs and higher costs of getting lamb from the ranch to consumers. Beyond that, there is plenty to dig into in sheep and lamb inventories, cold storage stocks and imports as they respond to high prices and some expectations for the coming year.

 

USDA’s Sheep Inventory Report

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s sheep inventory report was released on Jan. 31, and indicated 2 percent fewer sheep in the United States compared to Jan. 1, 2021. The ewe flock was down 1.7 percent. Digging into the report a little deeper suggests a couple other points. The ewe flock was down only 1.7 percent in the face of the largest federally inspected mature sheep slaughter since 2011. Mature sheep slaughter as a percent of the ewe flock in 2021 was 4.5 percent – historically very large and the largest in more than a decade.

Replacement lambs totaled 640,000 head and were the equivalent of 22 percent of the ewe flock. This level of retention would be consistent with a steady number of ewes or even some growth if not for the large mature sheep culling that occurred in 2021. Certainly, drought, higher costs and other production constraints – and high prices – led to more culling and the smaller flock. But the level of retention would suggest some opportunities for growth this year.

While most states reduced their ewe numbers, there were some notable exceptions. California, Nevada, Washington and New Mexico reported more ewes ranging from an increase of 3.7 percent (Wash.) to 8 percent (Calif. and N.M.). It was a mixed bag in other regions with more ewes reported in North Carolina, Kentucky and West Virginia, but reductions in Tennessee, Virginia and Pennsylvania. It’s worth noting that the one category reporting more lambs than the year before was the market lambs under 65 pounds. This category was reported 2.1 percent (7,000 head) greater than the prior year.

 

Trade

Lamb imports are always an important lamb market factor and the latest data released by USDA completes the data for 2021. Lamb imports surged to 29.4 million pounds in June. That was the largest monthly import of lamb – likely on record – with data going back to the late 1980s. Normally, imports peak in March and then decline from April to September, after the Spring holiday season, and then grow in the last quarter of the year. Imports did decline following that peak, and were just under 20 million pounds in December.

For the year, a record 264 million pounds were imported with 98.4 percent of that from Australia and New Zealand. Of the total, 74 percent came from Australia and 24 percent from New Zealand.

The year also saw record large mutton imports, at 99.8 million pounds. More than 90 percent of that product came from Australia. While mutton imports have trended higher in the last 30 years, the real surge has occurred in just the last few years.

Live animal trade grew for both exports and imports in 2021. Almost 23,000 head were imported for the year – the most since 68,000 were imported in 2003. Sheep exports totaled 46,700 head with the majority – 34,329 head – going to Canada.

High domestic lamb prices certainly fueled increased imports. It’s likely that imports will remain high this year as high prices and reduced domestic production make the United States an attractive destination.

 

Cold Storage

Stocks of lamb have often been a real industry problem, pressuring prices and hanging over the market. At the beginning of the pandemic in Spring 2020, cold storage stocks as reported by USDA hit 48 million pounds – a huge number. But those stocks worked through the market dramatically in the course of 2020 and remained low throughout 2021, ending the year at 22 million pounds – well below the five-year average of 33 million pounds. Lamb in cold storage is not beginning the year in bad shape and should be supportive for prices early in the year.

 

Wool

Wool prices, as indicated by the Australian market, have trended higher since the beginning of the year. While the wool market indicator value is higher than last year at this time, it has been running about 15 percent below the five-year average. It would appear that the recent upward trend in prices has pulled some more supplies out of storage and into the market, resulting in some lower prices in the last week. It appears that the price spread by micron has been growing with finer micron wool selling at a larger premium to coarser wools.

 

On Balance

Fewer market lambs in the inventory report should translate to reduced lamb production in the next couple of months. When combined with reduced cold storage stocks and declining imports – at least at the end of 2021 – should translate to relatively tight lamb supplies. Prices of all the major cuts have begun the year well above last year, and in line with the end of 2021. For example, the national lamb cutout value for the week ending Feb. 7 was $6.15 per pound compared to $6.14 the last week of December 2021 and $3.90 in February 2021.

Live lamb prices are also starting the year on a high note. Heavyweight slaughter lambs at Sioux Falls, S.D., averaged $234 per cwt. for the first week of February and were $170 per cwt. a year ago. Lighter weight lambs in Texas, Colorado and South Dakota averaged $372 per cwt. in early February compared to $240 at this point last year.

While supplies indicate high prices might remain, high prices usually discourage consumption as consumers switch to lower-priced items. It’s been pretty well documented that lamb demand has fared well during the last two years of the pandemic. February was Lamb Lover’s Month, and the Spring holidays are approaching. That usually provides a demand bump.

USDA retail price data suggests that while prices for racks are well above last year, major grocery store chains have increased featuring. Barring a precipitous decline in consumption, on balance there should be support for continued high prices.

WS, Utah State Testing Flashtags

The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s Wildlife Services is partnering with Utah State University and livestock producers in several states to evaluate the effectiveness of a new light deterrent – also known as a flashtag – that is attached to the ear of livestock to protect them from predation.

The nonlethal device only activates when it is dark and the animal is in rapid motion. This large-scale study will provide more information about the device’s effectiveness and limitations for deterring livestock predation by wolves, coyotes and other livestock predators.

Results are expected later this year. In 2021, prototype flashtags were developed and tested on a band of sheep in Idaho. Trials showed promising results. The tags were durable and undisruptive to the sheep, and might have deterred some predation.

American Sheep Inventory Down 2 Percent

Increased slaughter of mature sheep in 2021 – thanks to drought and high mature ewe slaughter prices – played a role in a 2 percent decrease in the American sheep inventory as reported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service in January.

As of Jan. 1, the American sheep and lamb inventory totaled 5.07 million head. Breeding sheep inventory was 3.71 million head, down 2 percent from 3.78 million head on Jan. 1, 2021. Ewes 1-year-old and older were at 2.91 million head, also 2 percent below last year. Market sheep and lambs totaled 1.36 million head, down 3 percent from a year ago. Market lambs comprised 94 percent of the total market inventory. Market sheep comprised the remaining 6 percent of total market inventory. The 2021 lamb crop of 3.16 million head was down 2 percent from 2020. The 2021 lambing rate was 107 lambs per 100 ewes 1-year-old and older on Jan. 1, 2021, down 1 percent from 2020.

Shorn wool production in the United States during 2021 was 22.5 million pounds, down 3 percent from 2020. Sheep and lambs shorn totaled 3.2 million head, down 2 percent from 2020. The average price paid for wool sold in 2021 was $1.70 per pound for a total value of $38.2 million, down 1 percent from $38.4 million in 2020.

Sheep death loss during 2021 totaled 200,000 head, down 5 percent from 2020. Lamb death loss decreased 1 percent from 370,000 head to 365,000 head in 2021.

While the sheep inventory was down nationally, several states showed increases. With a bump from 555,000 to 575,000, California posted the largest inventory increase in the nation and remains second only to Texas – 700,000 sheep, down from 730,000 a year ago – in total sheep and lamb numbers.

Additional states that showed increases in the latest report included: West Virginia, New Mexico, North Carolina, Nevada, Oklahoma, New York and Ohio. Sheep numbers in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont are grouped into a New England region, which posted a 5 percent increase. A second region labeled Other States consists of 17 states – mostly in the Southeast, Alaska and Hawaii – which posted a 3 percent increase in total sheep numbers.

Read the report at Release.nass.usda.gov/reports/shep0122.pdf.

 

Tammi, Pfliger Appointed to NSIIC Board

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently announced the appointment of one producer and an expert in finance and management to each serve as members on the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center Board of Directors.

The newly appointed members will serve three-year terms from January 2022 to January 2025. Newly appointed members are:

• Producer – Leo Tammi, Mount Sidney, Va.

• Finance & Management – Burton Pfliger, Bismarck, N.D.

The board is composed of seven voting members and two non-voting members. Both appointees were nominated by the American Sheep Industry Association, the trade association that sponsored legislative approval of the center.

The National Sheep Industry Improvement Center was established as part of the 2008 Farm Bill and administers a grant program designed to improve the infrastructure of the American sheep industry by strengthening and enhancing the production and marketing of sheep and sheep products.
The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service provides oversight of the center.

 

USDA Introduces New Market App

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced recently a new USDA Market News mobile application providing producers and everyone else in the supply chain with instant access to current and historical market information. The initial version of the free app includes nearly 800 livestock, poultry and grain market reports, with additional commodities added throughout the coming year.

“USDA is focused on building more resilient and transparent markets and is taking steps to promote competition and fairer prices from farmers to consumers,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “This new Market News app helps create a more level playing field for small and medium producers by delivering critical market information to them where they are, when they need it.”

Producers and other users can search for markets based on their location, by state or by commodity. They also can add market reports to their favorites for easier access, share reports via text or email, subscribe to reports, and receive real-time notifications when a new report is published. For additional data analysis, the app lets you share the source data behind the reports via email, as well.

There are both iOS and Android versions available to download through the Apple and Google Play stores. Search for “USDA Market News Mobile Application” to download the app and begin exploring its potential.

2022 ASI Annual Convention

KYLE PARTAIN
Sheep Industry News Editor

As it turns out, that rollercoaster ride American wool and sheep producers have been on the past couple of years was actually a Pacific Ocean wave that carried ASI into San Diego on Jan. 19-22 for its 157th Annual Convention: Where There’s A Will, There’s A Wave.

The convention theme was a nod to both the location and ASI’s desire to again meet in person after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the association to host a virtual meeting in 2021. Resiliency peppered conversations in San Diego after a COVID-induced wave took its best shot at sinking the industry only to then carry it to record-high lamb prices and steady increases for wool. The American sheep industry proved its buoyancy and sustainability in the process.

In the pages that follow, readers will find in-depth coverage of the ASI Annual Convention. From award winners to policy decisions to electing leadership, the gathering was a jam-packed week that both educated and entertained those who attended.

ASI’s American Wool Assurance Program announced new additions to the voluntary, producer-driven certification process for American wool. A handful of wool growers have already been certified through Level 1 (Educated) of the program and can now move forward to reach Level II (Process Verified). More than a dozen extension personnel and others with ties to the industry from all across the country have completed the process to become AWA evaluators. A second-party evaluation is required for Level II certification. The program also announced the addition of Ranch Groups to the AWA program. These groups will allow producers to work together with other like-minded producers in a joint certification process.

A first-ever Genetics Forum was conducted in conjunction with Sheep Genetics USA and the National Sheep Improvement Program. Producers heard how the adoption of quantitative genetic selection can provide opportunities for improving the productivity of their sheep operations.

The Secure Sheep and Wool Supply Plan offered a training session not only for producers, but also for state executives, extension personnel and others who can now return home and train producers in their areas on the process of managing in the face of disease outbreak.

Sheep producers and industry volunteers also elected and re-elected members to the ASI Executive Board during the meeting. John Noh of Idaho was chosen to fill the Region VII spot previously held by Montana’s Randy Tunby – who was not eligible for re-election. Three other regional representatives were re-elected to second terms on the board, however. They included Laurie Hubbard (Penn.) of Region I, Anne Crider (Ill.) of Region II and Tammy Fisher (Texas) of Region V.

ASI’s officers were elected to a second year of their current leadership roles. Susan Shultz (Ohio) will continue to serve as president of ASI, while Brad Boner (Wyo.) and Ben Lehfeldt (Mont.) were also asked to continue in their roles as vice president and secretary/treasurer, respectively.

Some moments, however, almost defied description. Such as, New Mexico’s Bronson Corn answering the call of his cowboy boot and yelling back like an old man trying to scare children off his lawn. It was one of those true you had to be there moments. If you missed out on the fun, the education and the entertainment, start making plans now to join ASI in Fort Worth, Texas, on Jan. 18-21, 2023, for the next annual convention.

Sheep Should Be Part of the Climate Change Solution

CAT URBIGKIT
The Shepherd

The well-orchestrated chorus condemning American animal agriculture for its role in global warming is deceptive, according to air quality extension specialist Frank Mitloehner of the University of California-Davis – aka, the Greenhouse Gas Guru – during his Opening Session presentation at the ASI Annual Convention. Rather than being the problem, animal agriculture is part of a climate solution.

Those who don’t like animal agriculture use the global statistics of greenhouse gas emissions to attack the industry in the United States, Mitloehner said, but production in the United States is vastly different than that in developing countries. Domestic greenhouse gas emissions from animal agriculture ring in at 3.9 percent, compared to the global rate of 14.5 percent. For comparison, transportation makes up 28 percent, electricity generation 27 percent, and industry 22 percent of GHG emissions in the United States, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Emissions from ruminants such as domestic sheep emit methane – a potent greenhouse gas that has a half-life of about 12 years. After that, the methane is broken down and converted back to carbon dioxide, and plants can again photosynthesize and fix the carbon back into cellulose. Grasses and other plants that are high in cellulose are then grazed by ruminants that digest the carbon and continue the biogenic carbon cycle.

But geologic carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels linger in the atmosphere for about 1,000 years before being redeposited back into geologic matter. So, the emissions from driving a car today will remain in the atmosphere and warming the climate while the emissions from animals are short-lived and recycled back into the environment within about 12 years in this biogenic carbon cycle.

Animal agriculture in the United States has reduced its emissions continually during the last 50 to 70 years, primarily through efficiency measures and feed additives, while continuing to feed an ever-growing human population. If flock sizes stay roughly stable for 20 years, then so does methane and therefore related warming, Mitloehner said. By improving animal health, genetics and fertility, livestock producers are able to decrease the number of animals required to produce pounds of product, resulting in decreases in methane emissions.

“It’s nothing short of a miracle,” Mitloehner said, noting that forestry and animal agriculture are the major societal sectors that can actually pull carbon from the air and store it – making these industries part of the climate solution rather than major culprits. Targeted management of grazing lands could improve productivity for livestock while creating carbon sinks, furthering livestock’s ability to help combat climate change.

In addition, it is recognized that the current method (called GWP100) of estimating methane’s warming impact used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change overestimates the impact of constant flocks and herds by a factor of four, as well as overlooks the ability to induce cooling when emissions are reduced.

The University of Oxford has developed a new metric – called GWP* – that accounts for methane’s short lifespan, Mitloehner said, adding that he expects a report on the new metric will be employed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations later this spring.

An assessment of Australian sheep production using the GWP* metric last spring found the industry’s methane emissions have declined, and “due to declining methane emissions, the Australian sheep meat industry’s GHG emissions footprint is equivalent to CO2 removal.”

Wool Could Play Key Role in Climate Change Battle

HEATHER PEARCE & KYLE PARTAIN
Wool Production Programs Manager & Sheep Industry News Editor

Talk of climate change and how the American sheep industry can be part of the solution was apparent throughout the ASI Annual Convention. Even the Wool Council embraced the concept as it heard reports on carbon capture from Fibershed’s Rebecca Burgess and California producer Ryan Mahoney.

Did you know that natural fibers such as wool can be, “grown and raised in ways that maximize the drawdown of carbon from the atmosphere to help restore ecosystem health and stabilize our climate?” The folks at Fibershed are acutely familiar with the concept and while drought and climate change are certainly occurring, “ag is a huge part of the solution,” according to Burgess.

Wool is a natural performance fiber created by the carbon cycle, from solar energy through photosynthesis, sheep grazing and the production of protein fibers that are shorn seasonally. In the Northern California Fibershed, foggy coastal regions are home to sheep with coarse wool that is well suited for bedding and durable products. Inland – in drier climates and high desert regions – fine wool is soft, yet strong and creates beautiful knitwear and woven fabrics.

Climate Beneficial Wool is verified by Fibershed and sourced from land stewards who are enhancing carbon drawdown through agricultural practices that regenerate soil and ecosystem health.

For five years, Fibershed has been piloting American-based supply chains that directly connect brands and designers to farmers and ranchers who raise natural fiber with land stewardship practices that regenerate soil carbon.

Mahoney’s Emigh Livestock has been working with Fibershed on practices and processes on the ranch and how they affect carbon numbers.

“This truly changes the way you look at farm health,” said Mahoney, who has taken a closer look at every aspect of the family operation since taking over from his grandfather. “This quantifies your practices and helps tell the story about lamb and wool.”

Carbon farm practices can be measured – an aspect of decision making that Mahoney has applied to many of his changes on the ranch – can mitigate erosion and can help build soil health.

The council also heard updates on the American Wool Assurance Program as it moves into the next phase of implementation: offering second-party evaluations that will allow producers to reach Level II certification. Seventeen evaluators are now trained and ready to assist producers looking to move from Level I to Level II certification.

Much like Fibershed’s efforts in carbon capture, the AWA program looks to create a traceability program that allows wool growers to assure consumers wool was produced with the upmost care. Taking part in the program also provides growers with another avenue for sharing their story with consumers.

While wool prices – specifically fine wool prices – have soared in the past year, the council also heard that pelt prices are on the rebound, as well. Pelt credits have climbed from record lows in the past three years and are now as much as $5 to $6 per pelt in some cases. As with any commodity, those price increases have been offset somewhat by increased freight, supply chain and labor costs. But overall, demand has been steady and prices have increased.

To help relay current wool prices, Kayley Ellis from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service described potentially impactful updates in AMS reporting. The service is transitioning to a new reporting system, making it a good time to update the reports that are generated. Of particular interest amongst the audience, AMS could report a national weighted average price for each micron – in addition to the regional price reports – giving the potential for more prices to be reported.

On the military front, the Reece-branded wool socks continue to garner interest. After trials, similar Superwash socks are now issued to Marine Corps special ops units and a wear test is underway. This could lead to orders of 100,000 pairs per year, with the possibility that other divisions of the military might follow suit.
In recent years, only about 30 to 40 percent of American wool has been used domestically, with the United States military accounting for 10 to 20 percent of domestic supply.

Video Sales, Ethnic Market Top Lamb Agenda

KYLE PARTAIN
Sheep Industry News Editor

Panel discussions on video sales and working with ethnic market buyers dominated much of the Lamb Council’s time in San Diego. While neither is new to the industry, each offers growth opportunities – as well as some additional headaches – for sheep producers. Video sales really took off during the pandemic.

“I don’t know if it’s right for everybody, but it’s another tool,” said Wyoming producer Vance Broadbent.

Montana producer Henry Hollenbeck – who also oversees video sales for Northern Livestock Video Auction – said its important for producers to deal with a video sales representative that can be trusted.

“The reps have to take pride in representing lambs correctly for both the seller and the buyer,” he added.

Dave Johnson of Equity Cooperative Livestock Sales said video offers producers a consistent way to market animals at reduced costs to more competition.

“I’ve been doing this for 25 years and I can count on one hand the number of wrecks I’ve had,” Johnson said. “I vet both buyers and sellers. If you have quality people on both sides and someone in the middle who knows how to work through the issues, there’s no problem you can’t solve.”

But there are additional issues that come into play with video sales as opposed to hauling your own sheep to a live market. For instance, producers selling at video auctions need to deal with the transportation and logistics of getting those animals to the buyer.

“Buyers don’t always know what kind of terrain those sheep are going to be in,” Hollenbeck said. “Talk to your reps about all of the logistics.”

A panel on ethnic markets followed. Benny Cox of Texas and Don Hawk of Ohio joined Johnson on the second panel.

“What is the ethnic market,” Johnson asked? “Anything that isn’t the traditional market. And if you’re going to sell to ethnic buyers, you’d better know what they want.”

Ethnic buyers tend to purchase smaller sheep – with a preference toward hair sheep – in smaller lots than traditional buyers, Cox said.

“Our big hair sheep producers don’t get to load two to three trucks in a day and send them on their way,” he added. “The average consignment at my sale barn (in San Angelo, Texas) is 27 head. The market is so fragmented that it’s hard to deliver large groups of lambs.”

An Ohio lamb feeder, Hawk sees an industry that often isn’t prepared to sell to the ethnic market despite its dominant presence in the industry.

“I see a lot of people who want to sell to that market, but don’t want to do the research and the work to produce the right product,” he said. “They think they’ll use Suffolks or Hamps, and that’s not what these buyers want.”

However, that might be changing. The ethnic market is growing from 2 to 10 percent a year, said Johnson, adding that assimilation among the immigrant population might one day mean fewer differences in their buying preferences.

“The younger generation will go to the store and buy a leg or a rack,” Cox added. But, for now, comparing traditional and ethnic markets is like comparing “apples and peanuts, not apples and oranges.”

Dale Woerner, Ph.D., of Texas Tech University updated the council on the use of Rapid Evaporative Ionization Mass Spectrometry to differentiate lamb flavor based on consumer preference. The REIMS technology creates a real-time chemical fingerprint that allows food scientists to overlay the fingerprints of different sheep (old vs. young, grass fed vs. corn fed, etc.) and group them into flavor performance profiles.

“Meat science is nothing new,” Woerner said. “We’re just learning more and more every day.”

REIMS could soon be used in the processing plants to differentiate lamb flavors in real time, categorize lamb by flavor intensity and even accurately evaluate the value of a lamb carcass.

Speaking about 10 days before the U.S. Department of Agriculture/National Agricultural Statistics Service released its 2022 Sheep Inventory Report, Tyler Cozzens of the Livestock Marketing Information Center predicted that total inventory would be down in his presentation to the Lamb Council. He speculated an increase in mature sheep slaughter would be partly to blame, thanks to high meat prices and ongoing drought.

He was certainly correct about sheep numbers, as NASS reported a 2 percent drop in the total American sheep inventory. He also called for slight increases in slaughter lamb and feeder lamb prices in 2022, followed by drops in 2023.

“There’s a lot of optimism, and there should be,” he said. “These prices staying as strong as they have for so long bodes well.”

The council also heard an update on strong demand by consumers from Megan Wortman of the American Lamb Board.

Resource Council Hears Medley of Issues

CAT URBIGKIT
The Shepherd

Attendees of the Resource Management Council meeting had a full slate of topics on their agenda. Chief among them was U.S. Department of Agriculture/Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service /Wildlife Services Deputy Administrator Janet Bucknall providing an update on her agency’s varied activities in wildlife disease and emergency response under the One Health approach that recognizes the health of people is closely connected to the health of animals.

With a strategic goal to safeguard the health, welfare and value of American agriculture and natural resources, Bucknall said, “livestock protection remains at the core of what we do.”

The Wildlife Services budget includes about $109 million for animal damage management – everything from feral swine eradication and aquaculture protection to promoting nonlethal methods of protecting livestock, as well as other methods to reduce damage caused by wild animals. With management of gray wolves in most of the United States reverting back to the states, Wildlife Services works within the guidelines set by each state.

To coordinate overall USDA wolf management, the agency is developing an internal wolf group that will bring together each USDA agency to coordinate the department’s efforts, Bucknall said.

 

Targeted Grazing

The U.S. Forest Service will soon be developing a program for targeted grazing to reduce fuel loads, according to Eric Davis of the agency. The program is funded through the new infrastructure act and aimed at reducing the risk of catastrophic wildfires through fuel reduction, using livestock grazing as a tool to that end.
What is unique is that this program for targeted grazing will not be tied to Forest Plan livestock grazing targets, and can be conducted anywhere on USFS lands if targeted for fuel reduction purposes. Davis said once his agency develops the structure for the program, it will issue a call for proposals.

“It’s an exciting time,” Davis said. I think there will be a lot of learning about how to implement this program.”

 

Public Lands

Public Lands Council Vice President Mark Roeber of Colorado gave an update on PLC’s activities that have been altered with the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, conservation planning for sage grouse, as well as the Biden Adminstration’s 30×30 Plan, will continue to need attention from livestock producers.

PLC’s position is that grazing is good, and is part of the solution, Roeber said, and PLC will continue to push this message with the administration. Roeber said the new USFS targeted grazing plan will be important, and a meeting between PLC’s executive committee and the heads of the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management was largely positive. PLC emphasized the importance of flexibility when producers are dealing with wildfires and drought.

 

Litigation

Western Resources Legal Center Executive Director Caroline Lobdell updated the membership on a number of legal issues and trends that affect the sheep industry. A highlight of her presentation was an update on WildEarth Guardians and Western Watersheds Project v. Bail (2:20-cv-00440).

This case involves S. Martinez Livestock, an ASI member. The special interest, anti-grazing plaintiffs sought an immediate preliminary injunction from a federal district court in eastern Washington. WRLC had limited time to mount a defense on behalf of S. Martinez Livestock, but was ultimately successful in convincing the district court not to issue an injunction that would have forced the Martinez family to immediately find alternative forage for thousands of domestic sheep – threatening the viability of their multi-generational family business. Furthermore, defendant – the US Forest Service – in its briefing stated, “A ROC (Risk of Contact) model is a quantitative means of assessing the probability of a foraying bighorn ram or ewe contacting an active domestic sheep grazing allotment. The ROC model does not evaluate the risk of disease transmission …” rather, it is “a starting point for quantifying one element that may influence bighorn viability.”

The Martinez Livestock litigation is far from over and continues the longstanding debate about the utility of the Risk of Contact Model as a reliable tool to in assessing the risk of possible disease transmission between domestic sheep and bighorn sheep on national forests throughout the West. As many in the industry know, the Risk of Contract Model has been used as a sword by special interest groups in other cases, which has resulted in the loss of livestock allotments for domestic sheep grazing – as was the case in Idaho’s Payette National Forest.

Of significance, the environmental groups argued that the public interest weighed sharply in favor of protecting bighorn sheep. The court, however, weighed the relative public interests, and held, “there is also intrinsic public interest in allowing a community-oriented business to operate most effectively so as to continue to provide employment opportunities, including for minority communities, as well as educational and research support to state universities. These corollary benefits of economic sustainability benefit the local and regional communities. In considering these competing public interests, the balance does not tip so strongly in favor of one party over the other.”

WRLC continues to represent Martinez Livestock as the lawsuit moves to oral argument, which is expected in the fall of this year.

Convention Hosted SSWS Plan Trainings

ERICA SANKO
ASI Director of Analytics & Production Programs

ASI hosted Secure Sheep and Wool Supply Plan training sessions for producers and stakeholders during its Annual Convention in San Diego.

“I thought the workshop was informative and timely on how to prepare for the unexpected in a disease outbreak,” said Idaho producer Cindy Siddoway. “As we enter our third year of COVID-19 and the impact it has on our daily lives, it is important to know how to prevent and control an outbreak of contagious diseases on our farms and ranches. The feedback and discussion from fellow attendees was most beneficial.”

The morning session on Jan. 19 helped more than 30 industry influencers from all across the United States learn more about the SSWS resources available. They were trained to help producers develop contingency and biosecurity plans to protect their flock from foot and mouth disease. They learned how to use presentations, narrated videos, handouts, biosecurity templates and disease monitoring tools in workshops or one-on-one meetings with producers. Many are making plans to host a SSWS Plan training in their state or region later this year.

“This made me think differently about my own actions when moving between sheep flocks,” shared one attendee. “I can take these ideas home and help other producers find ways to better protect their flocks.”

Two interactive workshops were offered in the afternoon for producers to learn what might happen if FMD were found in the United States. They were given ideas on how to voluntarily prepare to protect their flocks in an outbreak. Several new trainers attended to see ways to conduct their own workshops.

Producers learned how to develop a contingency plan to keep their businesses “moving” in the event of an FMD outbreak. The first and easiest step is to request a free premises identification number – if they did not already have one. PINs will be required to request a movement permit in an FMD or other foreign animal disease outbreak. Learn more at SecureSheepWool.org/Assets/SSWS_Premises-ID-Info.pdf.

Another important step for producers is to create a premises map of their operation. Producers were asked to think about areas where sheep are housed as if it were a castle with walls. Then, figure out a way to build a “moat” or line of separation to prevent movement of the FMD virus to areas where sheep might be exposed. Attendees were able to use an ASI member’s sheep ranch and walk through the process.

Figuring out where to put the drawbridge – or access points – led to lively discussions. Resources to get started on your own map are available at SecureSheepWool.org/producers/biosecurity.

The training sessions were led by Dr. Danelle Bickett-Weddle, who worked with ASI to develop the SSWS Plan and materials. Bickett-Weddle also provided an update on the SSWS Plan materials and biosecurity practices during the Production, Education and Research Council meeting. Funding for the trainings was made possible – in part – by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

 

What’s Next for the SSWS Plan

ASI is working with Bickett-Weddle on two projects aimed at enhancing the SSWS Plan and preparing sheep producers to voluntarily prepare for an FMD outbreak.

The first is updating the Sheep Safety and Quality Assurance biosecurity chapter. Special focus will be on practical biosecurity steps that can be taken daily to further improve flock health.

Then, ways to step up to enhanced biosecurity measures as described in the SSWS Plan materials. This will ensure consistency in messaging across the SSQA Program and SSWS Plan. ASI is currently working with Colorado State University on enhancing and updating the SSQA Program.

The second is developing movement decision criteria for sheep and cattle grazing public land allotments during a potential foreign animal disease outbreak. USDA National Animal Disease Preparedness and Response Program funding is supporting ASI and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association to collaborate with public land agencies, states and industry partners, such as the Public Lands Council. The project is expected to take two years to complete.

Visit SecureSheepWool.org for more information.

Panelists Offer Insight on Innovating Operations

KYLE PARTAIN
Sheep Industry News Editor

Panel discussions provided some of the most interesting moments of the 2022 ASI Annual Convention, and the Production, Education and Research Council was no different.

Three producers from across the United States were invited to discuss the topic of adopting innovative practices to improve efficiency in their operations.

Panelists included: Ryan Mahoney, a large commercial producer from California; Kalen Poe, whose family produces show sheep in Indiana; and Bill Sparrow, a small-scale hair sheep producer from North Carolina. While the three shared almost nothing in common in the day-to-day running of their operations, they do bring a shared mindset of being open to new ideas.

The key, however, is to balance tradition and technology in a way that makes the best of both.

“Tradition has immense value,” said Mahoney, who took over Emigh Livestock from his grandfather. “There’s so much that my grandpa’s generation taught me about running a ranch. But then I went to Australia and saw how efficient and profitable their operations were. From electronic ID to handling systems, they were using all of the tools. We were doing some of that with the cattle, but not with the sheep. So, we dove in and started trying things to make our labor more efficient.”

Innovation in that area was as simple as hiring people with better skillsets to as costly as purchasing new handling equipment, but it paid off in the form of a significant decrease in injuries and in worker’s comp insurance for the ranch.

As a purebred breeder for the show ring, Poe Hampshires incorporated technology in the form of artificial insemination.

“The changes in reproduction technology introduced in the 1990s were definitely the biggest pendulum swing for us,” Poe said. “Dr. Tad Thompson (who was first exposed to AI during that time) is a family friend and we had a large flock that he was able to practice on. Reproductive technology has gotten so much better in the last 20 years. But it’s still a constant struggle to stay ahead of it all. It’s high risk that offers high reward, so we swing for the fences.”

The family liked the way the technology worked in their operation so much, that they figured out how to do it themselves. Poe’s older brother, Stan Poe II, handles the AI duties these days, for both the family operation and for other producers, as well.

For Sparrow, innovation first took the form of an adequate barn for sheep. So many producers have dealt with a similar problem in purchasing properties that are setup for cattle or other livestock and don’t work well or efficiently when working sheep. These days, Sparrow puts significant value on purchasing rams from the Virginia Tech Ram Test, because he knows the Katahdin rams he finds there will stand up well to parasites, which are a chief concern in his state’s humid climate.

So, innovation can come in many forms depending on the size, scope, location and other factors your operation might be facing. But the key to putting innovation in any form to use is to evaluate the outcome and decide if such innovation is generating a desired results.

“You have to track these things,” Mahoney said. “We have simple books, but we make it complicated by tracking things. You need to find three to four ways to look your numbers and see if they all say the same things.

In other presentations to the council, Colorado State University’s Lauren Newman provided insight to an ongoing update of ASI’s Sheep Safety and Quality Assurance Program, which will be renamed the Sheep Quality Assurance Program as part of the updating process. Much like the American Wool Assurance Program is doing on the wool side, the updated SQA Program will provide consumers with confidence that animal welfare standards are being followed in the production of lamb.

An updated SQA manual will provide a platform for sheep producers of all experience levels to utilize. A first draft of the updated manual has already been produced, and CSU staff and students are working toward a final draft.

The council also received an update on the Secure Sheep and Wool Supply Plan developed to combat an animal disease outbreak in the United States.

Julie Finzel of the University of California Extension discussed a study of the use of electronic identification by five sheep ranchers in the state, a majority of which would qualify as large producers. It probably comes as no surprise that there were definite benefits to offset the time and cost of implenting electronic identification.

Genetic Selection Paves Way for Industry’s Future

CAT URBIGKIT
The Shepherd

It became apparent in recent years that sheep producers must make decisions based on numbers and sound analysis, rather than on tradition or intuition. Taking on that task is Sheep Genetics USA, according to SGUSA board member and sheep producer Tom Boyer.

Boyer and fellow board member Rusty Burgett of the National Sheep Improvement Program told attendees of the ASI Genetic Stakeholders Committee that the purpose of the program is to assist sheep producers in adopting genetic information, technology and research in their production systems.

The adoption of quantitative genetic selection provides infinite opportunities for improving the productivity of American sheep operations, Boyer said.
From initial genetics research in Katahdin sheep that revealed that parasite resistance can be heritable, genomics research now examines thousands of DNA markers that can be responsible for genetic variation among animals, according to University of Idaho molecular geneticist Brenda Murdoch, Ph.D., who explained genotyping techniques and platforms to the group. She said producers can learn about single-gene traits – such as horn status and disease susceptibility (or resistance) – as well as more detailed information on traits as varied as feed efficiency, birthing ease and carcass weights that are controlled by multiple genes.

Using genetics and genomics will move the industry forward, Boyer pointed out.

“The sheep industry in 2032 will look substantially different than it does today,” he said.

Membership in Sheep Genetics USA is free, and interested producers can enroll via the website at SheepGeneticsUSA.org.

Ben Pejsar of Neogen Genomics said one only has to look at other markets – such as the beef industry – to understand the role genomics have played in advancing those industries. An advantage of genomics is that producers can make selection decisions much earlier in the life of an animal, without having to wait until an animal has produced offspring.

“Genomics is a great tool,” Pejsar said. “It’s not a silver bullet, but it’s a great tool.”

Sheep producers attending the afternoon session of the Genetics Forum at the ASI Annual Convention were able to hear progress reports from a panel involved in varied genotyping platforms.

Karissa Isaacs oversees the Flock 54 program for Superior Farms and said producers new to genetics testing shouldn’t feel pressured to try to do their entire flocks all at once. She suggested they select animals that represent their preferences – such as their best ewe lambs – and test those first.

“Let’s see what we find out from those,” she said.

But producers need to have good identification on their animals to be able to utilize the results. She suggested that producers seriously consider their goals, and what they are willing to change, before testing any animals.

Brad Boner of Wyoming compared traditional ways of selecting rams to a beauty contest, noting that using genetic data changes the selection process. If one animal consumes three pounds of feed for every pound of gain, and is compared to another that consumes 12 pounds to add one pound of weight, the economic impact of selecting feed-efficient animals is significant, he said.

Katahdin breeder Lynn Fahrmeier pointed to error rates in hand-written data – such as writing down the wrong eartag number – that can result in inaccurate pedigrees, while genetic data provides accurate pedigrees that can result in more accurate estimated breeding values to be used in management decision-making.
Fahrmeier said genetic data will make the biggest impact on traits that are measured later in life of the animal, such as longevity or maternal traits.

“Genomics is the method to increase the selection pressure faster and harder,” he said.

Kansas State University’s Tamra Kott updated the group on creation of a fine wool index. After including economic value estimations, and designing and testing the index, she is now in the process of doing her final write-up. Producers are looking forward to her final results, and quizzed her on her findings.

The index should help producers understand the impact improving their wool can have on their bottom line. Kott noted that even one micron change – such as moving from 20 micron wool to 19 micron wool – can result in a gain of 10 cents per pound when the wool is sold. Kott is planning for the index to be transitioned into the National Sheep Improvement Plan Program after validation.

Changes Coming to Use of Prescription Antibiotics

CAT URBIGKIT
The Shepherd

Sheep producers have about 18 months to work with their veterinarians to get plans in place for the use of antimicrobial drugs when the need arises in their flocks, according to University of California-Davis specialist Roselle Busch, DVM.

When these drugs switch to prescription-only next year, producers will not be able to purchase the drugs at supply stores or online without a prescription, and the prescriptions will be served by licensed pharmacies.

Busch told the ASI’s Animal Health Committee that the U.S. Food & Drug Administration plans to transfer all medically important antimicrobial drugs for use in animals – both food-producing animals and companion animals – to availability only under the oversight of a licensed veterinarian. While the FDA has been phasing in the program in the last few years, remaining over-the-counter antimicrobials for animals will be transitioned to prescription-only by June 2023.
Livestock producers should work to establish veterinarian-client-patient relationships and flock health plans that outline treatment protocols for common conditions to ensure that producers are able to continue to provide needed care to their animals, Busch said.

The movement to restrict antibiotics is due to antibiotic resistance – recognized as a global threat to both public health and animal health. The consequence of such resistance means that simple infections are more difficult to treat, with longer treatment times, increased costs and deaths.

 

Scrapie

U.S. Department of Agriculture/Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service veterinarian Diane Sutton provided an update on the scrapie eradication program, noting that when the program began, it was estimated that about 1 in every 500 sheep in the United States was affected. The estimate is “now probably 1 in 100,000, but we can’t say that with certitude,” Sutton said.

Eradication of the disease will open pathways for exports of both sheep and goats, as well as increase productivity in the nation’s flocks.
Scrapie is a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy affecting sheep and goats that was detected in the United States after the import of a small group of sheep from the United Kingdom via Canada in 1942. Since the USDA’s slaughter surveillance started in 2003, the percent of cull sheep found positive at slaughter has decreased 99 percent. However, to declare the United States “scrapie free,” USDA must be able to prove that its surveillance program has conducted testing in all sheep and goat populations.

“Every time we get a new positive case, we lose years of progress in the program as well as millions of dollars in the industry,” Sutton said.

 

B. ovis

Brucella ovis is a primary cause of epididymitis in rams, reported Andrew Johnson, Ph.D., of Veterinary Medical Research and Development. It results in infertility and reductions in lamb yields in flocks. Screening for B. ovis routinely consists of palpating the scrotum of rams, followed by serology tests on animals with abnormalities, as well as some clinically normal rams. But with existing ELISA antibody tests, it is difficult to detect differences in exposure and clearing versus actual shedding of the virus. In most cases, rams that test positive are culled, since there is no cost-effective antibiotic treatment available and vaccination is not widely practiced.

But not all rams that test positive will develop clinical disease, so the economic impact of a more consistent test for B. ovis might prove substantial for management of individual rams.

Johnson reported that the major challenge is there are no standardized commercial ELISA test reagents available in the United States, and there have been discrepant results between different laboratories. That’s where VMRD comes in.

VMRD is a private company based in Pullman, Wash., that develops and manufactures veterinary diagnostic kits and related reagents. VMRD has standardized antigen and manufacturing controls for B. ovis ELISA reagent manufacturing. Johnson told the committee that four different labs conducted external validation tests, with results indicating that this is a sensitive assay with repeatable results.

Numerous diagnostic labs are now in the process of converting to using these reagents, so VMRD’s improvements to B. ovis testing stands to lessen the number of animals culled for being in the “suspect” zone when test results are received.

 

Electronic ID

Citing increased risk of foreign animal disease entering the United States, Cindy Wolf, DVM, of Minnesota spoke about transitioning to an electronic identification system for sheep, noting EID “would help us know where those animals were, where those animals are going, much more rapidly” than traditional record-keeping with paper and visual tags.

If EID were in place, it would automatically become part of the disease control program, Wolf said. Even if all producers aren’t ready to implement EID now, the sheep industry needs to be ready to protect the industry. To that end, the ASI Electronic ID Transition Working Group spent the last year examining the issue and preparing a report to the industry.

The working group recognized that real-time traceability is important to ensure the continuity of business for sheep producers should it be faced with a rapidly spreading disease. The only proven system that works for that is using low-frequency RFID tags, readers and software, such as those already used in regions such as England and Australia, and sporadically throughout the United States.

Wolf said the working group learned some basics from other countries, including that a subsidy for the program was necessary, as were mandates and educational campaigns. Other countries also demonstrated the benefits of the program, including preparedness for a foreign animal disease, their ability to market lamb meat using traceability, and increased productivity and profitability in their flocks.

While RFID systems are available and in use in the United States, the working group developed a list of concerns and impediments to setting up a national program, as well as a series of recommendations for moving the industry forward. Among its recommendations, the working group suggests that government cost-sharing in development and implementation of the program is necessary, and that there should be a phased-in approach to the program, with a state or region fully implementing the program within one year, before all states would transition to RFID within two years.

Annual Awards Recognize Industry Leaders

KYLE PARTAIN
Sheep Industry News Editor

It’s crucial for a national association such as ASI to find and recruit volunteer leaders who exhibit a spirit of service and the desire to work toward achieving common goals. Each year, the association takes the opportunity to honor such leaders for their contributions at the awards luncheon during the ASI Annual Convention.

McClure Silver Ram award winner Tim Turner, DVM, of Texas certainly fits the bill. A past president of the Texas Sheep and Goat Raisers’ Association, he’s made a huge impact at the national level as president of ASI’s for-profit Sheep Venture Company.

“I’ve always tried to participate and do what I can in everything I chose to do,” he said. “It’s important to get involved.

“I want to thank everyone for this recognition. I’m honored to receive it. I’ve enjoyed every minute of this effort, and I continue to enjoy it.”

The Wes Moser family was honored collectively with the Distinguished Producer Award, and Wes said it truly is a team effort around the family’s operation.

“The scope of the operation would definitely be different if my sons and all our spouses weren’t working together,” he said. “Our oldest daughter and her husband run ewes too, nearby, so there’s plenty of ‘sheep talk.’ The boys have their day jobs – shearing – which keeps them on the road maybe 60 percent of the time. That has also provided them capital to invest in the sheep operation.”

Months before award winners were announced, Wes and his wife, Esther, volunteered to stay home for the first round of lambing while their children – son, Alex and his wife, Katherine, and daughter Trixie and her husband, Ethan – attended the convention. Despite the award, Wes honored that commitment.

Accepting for the family, Alex shared a bit of his dad’s infallible logic in recounting that Wes likes to say, “Only half of the sheep producers in the country are above average.”

You can’t argue with that.

John and Diane Peavey didn’t set out to be innovators when they started the Trailing of the Sheep Festival 25 years ago to bridge the gap between a growing urban population and area sheep ranchers in Idaho’s Wood River Valley. As is often the case when good people pursue their passions, things snowballed and Trailing of the Sheep is now an internationally recognized festival that draws thousands of spectators. While there, they are indoctrinated in the lifestyle and history of the area’s sheep producers.

That was abundantly clear this year with the unveiling of The Good Shepherd monument that includes a lifesize sheepherder, dog, horse and eight sheep.

“The monument was quite an addition to the festival this year,” John said. “It’s a very moving monument to our industry.”

“Thank you very much for this award,” Diane said, adding that one of the most important works of the festival has been to archive stories of the area’s ranching families.

The Camptender Award took a different path in 2022 after an anonymous producer suggested it could be used to honor the hard working executives who oversee ASI’s 44 state associations. That same producer offered to endow the award with a $1,000 bonus in return for renaming the award in honor of ASI Executive Director Peter Orwick.

So, while the award has been around for sometime, Bonnie Brown-Eddy of the Colorado Wool Growers Association became the first official recipient of the Peter Orwick Camptender Award.

Dr. Emmett (Keith) Inskeep of West Virginia was honored posthumously with the Distinguished Service Award, which was accepted by one of his former students, Dr. Scott Bowdridge. Inskeep was especially interested in aseasonal lambing, and led the process of Food and Drug Administration approval for CIDR devices, which are now commonly used in the United States. He passed away in August 2021.

The Wyoming Livestock Roundup was recognized as the Shepherd’s Voice winner. Publisher Dennis Sun was unable to travel to the convention, so Wyoming producer Lynn Harlan accepted the award on behalf of his staff, which includes Curt Cox, Jody Michelena, Andrea Zink, Brittany Gunn and Kaitlyn Root.

Peers Offer Research Updates to Young Entrepreneurs

CAT URBIGKIT
The Shepherd

Members of ASI’s Young Entrepreneurs heard the latest research from their own peer group at the recent San Diego convention.

Grad students provided updates on the potential for use of blockchain technology for traceability and tracking transactions, development of a fine wool fleece index that will be incorporated into the National Sheep Improvement Program, research on the cost of excessive fat on lamb carcasses, nutritional management in aseasonal lambing systems, and progress on the national lamb quality audit.

The group also discussed recent market trends that indicate lamb has steadily increased its market share in the last few years, with home-cooking driving much of the demand rather than chefs in restaurants. Megan Wortman of the American Lamb Board said that a review of 1,000 lamb consumers and grocery shoppers showed that heavy lamb users consumed lamb at least once a week, and that they routinely purchased lamb, so it’s a habitual behavior for them.

These heavy lamb consumers account for the majority of lamb consumed in the United States, but are only 26 percent of lamb eaters. The opportunity to increase moderate users by one or two more purchases a month is key, she said, since this is the largest group of lamb eaters (51 percent), and they are only eating lamb about once a month.

Wortman said that consumer trends indicate that people are increasingly interested in regenerative agriculture, so the industry needs to be talking about that more with consumers.

While the average number of lambs weaned per ewe exposed hovers around 1.1 in the United States, increasing profits through increasing lamb crops is a high priority for these young producers, and their convention talks centered around methods to change up their operations using a variety of methods, including optimal nutrition regimes and selection for prolific genetics.

Young producers are encouraged to connect with the group’s Facebook page, and to work with ALB, ASI and other industry segments to help coordinate messaging, especially on social media. Group members were also encouraged to get involved in industry boards by sitting in on meetings and preparing to take on leadership roles, as well as attending consumer events to help educate people about the benefits offered by American lamb.

The group also offered a variety of opportunities for these young producers to learn more about their industry, including the National Lamb Feeders Leadership School in Colorado this July, and the Lamb Summit to be held in Michigan in August.

RAMS PAC Auction Sets Record at $31,700

Bidding was spirited and competitive at the 2022 RAMS PAC auction as a record amount of $31,700 was raised to support candidates who understand the needs of the American sheep industry.

Most of the proceeds – $27,860 – were raised in the live auction in San Diego where big ticket items sold well amongst the gathered crowd. An additional $3,840 was raised through an online silent auction that was open to anyone with an internet connection. Most of the silent auction items were clothing and decorative pieces. The auction total topped the previous record of $28,000-plus from Scottsdale, Ariz., in 2020.

Leading the way was a five-day mountain lion hunt that was donated by Wyoming sheep producer Bob Harlan. Tim Turner, DVM, paid $6,000 for the hunt. A pheasant hunting trip donated by South Dakota’s Steve Clements also drew significant interest and sold to Cindy Siddoway for $3,000.

While there’s no hunting planned, a one-week stay in Ruidoso, N.M., sold for $1,600 to Randy Tunby. The trip was donated by Benny Cox of Texas.
Artwork proved popular, as well. ASI Vice President Brad Boner bought a print for $2,000, while another piece sold to Charles Redd for $1,100.

Two 2022 Winter Olympics sweaters donated by Jeanne Carver’s Shaniko Wool Company sold for $1,800 and $1,700. A Pendleton wool jacket also sold for $1,825.

Choosing Replacement Ewes

CLAY ELLIOTT PH.D.
Purina Animal Nutrition

Selecting replacements is a make-or-break moment for the future of your flock. But choosing and developing the right replacement females isn’t easy.
A combination of sound selection practices, quality nutrition and proper management will help set your flock up for long-term success.

 

Selecting replacement females

Weaning is the key time to begin selecting replacements. Weaning times might be different for different flocks, but keep in mind that the more time you give animals to develop, the easier it will be to spot a good replacement.

Consider these factors when selecting your replacements:

• Ewe and ram’s pedigree and history;

• Overall health and condition;

• Easy-keeping animals;

• Body structure (level top, level dock, sound mouth, correct set of feet and legs);

• Teat quality;

• Weaning weights.

Also, consider your operation goals and where you want your flock to be in the future. Evaluate traits for both performance and profitability and consider any adjustments based on market demand.

 

Tips for managing replacements

Replacement ewes are set up to perform when implementing proper management practices. Remember the following when developing replacements:

• Follow a flock health plan under the guidance of a veterinarian. Adhere to label requirements for the proper timing of vaccinations and dewormers.

• Cover the basics, such as shearing, trimming hooves and providing shelter against the heat and other inclement weather conditions.

• Keep a close eye on the flock and be ready to intervene if they show any signs of common diseases, such as coccidiosis.

• If purchasing replacements, make sure you know the health and management history. Quarantine new flock members for a minimum of seven days to avoid spreading disease.

 

Post-weaning nutrition program

Following weaning, separate replacements from those going to market and implement a replacement feeding program designed to develop them into ideal breeding stock.

You want to provide enough energy and protein to keep them growing without getting over-conditioned. Feed a high-fiber, 16 percent protein diet to support lamb growth, maintain efficient feed conversion and body condition and avoid developing fat in the udders. And offer free choice mineral.

 

Get ready for breeding

Ideally, ewe lambs would receive a few months on a replacement feeding program before moving back out to pasture to get bred at around 6 to 7 months of age. For those keeping ewe lambs on pasture at all times, provide additional supplementation a few times a day to prepare them for carrying lambs.

Yearlings are often kept on a replacement feeding program until about 10 months of age before turning back out to pasture and bred at around a year or year and a half. These animals are more accustomed to forage conditions, have nearly reached their mature size and are easier to breed. Continue offering free-choice mineral while on pasture to prepare animals for breeding.

Body condition and overall size should be considered when identifying if ewe lambs are ready for breeding. If animals lack maturity, they won’t cycle, and breeding might be delayed. Replacement ewe lambs should be 40 percent of their mature body weight at breeding.

Set your flock up for long-term success by selecting the best replacements for your goals.

Visit PurinaMills.com/sheep-feed to learn more. Clay Elliott, Ph.D., is a small ruminant technical specialist with Purina Animal Nutrition. Contact him at CElliott@landolakes.com.

Obituaries

Larry L. Rule, 1929-2022

Larry Lewis Rule passed away on Jan. 18, 2022. He was 92 years old. Larry was born March 12, 1929, in Eagle, Colo., to Fred A. Rule and Mary E. (Quinlan) Rule, in the family house located along the Eagle River.

Larry’s experience growing up on a ranch in Eagle with his brother, Dan, played an instrumental role in his childhood and later influenced his professional career as a farmer, rancher and entrepreneur. Larry graduated from Eagle Valley High School in 1947 and married Nancy Kathryn Doran on Jan. 14, 1950. They lived in a house he built for them during the summer before he proposed. Larry and Nancy had three children together: Lori (Hugh) Hawthorne, Robert (Cindi) Rule and Spence (Connie) Rule.

In 1961, Larry and the family moved from the family ranch when he bought a farm and built a feedlot in Brighton, Colo. Later, he began feeding lambs in 1962, which started the Rule family business that is still operational today. Larry then opened the Denver Lamb packing plant in 1977 and further expanded his business operations by opening the Iowa Lamb packing plant in Hawarden, Iowa, in 1983.

In 1995, Larry and Nancy bought a cattle ranch in Mission, S.D., where they loved spending time. Once Larry semi-retired, he and Nancy joined his cousins in Arizona part-time. Larry’s long-time hobbies included hunting, being a master woodworker and photography. Larry also enjoyed skiing and bought a cabin in Avon, Colo., to teach his grandchildren how to ski. He got his private pilot’s license on his 70th birthday. Most of all, everyone will forever remember Larry for being generous, having a passion for life and loving his family and friends.

Larry was preceded in death by his parents, his wife Nancy, and brother Dan. Larry was an amazing father and grandfather who will be deeply missed by his three children, seven grandchildren, and 19 great-grandchildren.

Memorial donations can be made to the Alzheimer’s Association or ASI’s Sheep Heritage Foundation at 9785 Maroon Circle, Suite 360, Englewood, CO 80112.

 

Jeanne Siddoway, 1923-2021

Jeanne Clark Siddoway, 98, passed away peacefully at her home in St. Anthony, Idaho, on Nov. 30, 2021. Jeanne was born on April 17, 1923, in Moreland, Idaho, to Harold and Edna Clark.

She was the oldest of four children, Keith, Tom and baby sister Audrey. She graduated from Moreland High School and then attended Ricks Academy in Rexburg, Idaho. She started her first job in Toelle, Utah, with Western Union. She was transferred to the telegraph office in St. Anthony, Idaho, during World War II, where she met Raymond Kenneth “Bill” Siddoway.

They were married on May 19, 1945, in the Siddoway family home in Teton City, Idaho. Bill and Jeanne owned and operated Siddoway Sheep Company. Her greatest joy was her family. Bill and Jeanne had six children, 17 grandchildren, 59 great grandchildren, and three great great grandchildren.

As an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she served in many callings, but her greatest calling was ministering to others. She was active in many community organizations, including the Pink Ladies, Fremont County Republican Women, Make it With Wool, and the hospital and library boards. Jeanne’s hobbies included cooking, candy making, gardening, needlepoint, bowling, theater and traveling.

Jeanne is survived by five of her children: Susan (Jay Cedergreen) of Snohomish, Wash.; Kathy of Indio, Calif.; Jeff (Cindy) of Terreton, Idaho; Julianne (Rick Hill) of St. Anthony; and Frank (Joan) of Terreton. She was preceded in death by her husband, Bill; son, Denton; grandchildren, Ryan and Emily; her parents and all of her siblings.

The family suggests donations to the South Fremont Education Foundation, P.O. Box 263, St. Anthony, ID 83445.

The View from Elevator No. 7

It’s said that the only things certain in this life are death and taxes. I’d like to add that sheep producers have come to count on seeing myself and Christa Rochford at the door of most ASI Annual Convention events, diligently checking name badges for admittance. Our popularity soars when there are free drink tickets to hand out.

Some of you might have noticed, however, my absence for the start of the Industry-Wide Welcome Reception on Thursday night in San Diego. Given my recent preoccupation with spending time on the water, some might have assumed I was out in the marina trying to find my way onto a boat. In reality, I was hovering somewhere between floors five and six of the Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina when elevator No. 7 decided to take an unexpected siesta.

Moments after the opening session with Dr. Frank Mitleohner wrapped up, I jumped on the elevator to drop a few things in my room before heading back to work the door at the reception. I was supposed to be gone five minutes. I was joined on the elevator by ASI Executive Board members Steve Clements (and his wife, Pam) and Lisa Weeks, as well as Virginia’s Mandy Fletcher and Lydia Voss, a Make It With Wool contestant from Minnesota. Steve and Pam exited at their stop, after which elevator No. 7 turned into its own version of Disney’s Tower of Terror. Fortunately, there weren’t any 13-story free-falls, but there was a loud bang followed by a sudden stop.

I pushed the elevator call button and informed the operator that the car had stopped. She seemed uninterested and then disappeared altogether. The four of us waited patiently, but after 10 minutes of radio silence we decided to call back. I reminded the same operator that we were still stuck. She seemed a bit more alert and interested this time. I guess she was hoping the car would just spring back to life on its own after our first call. When that didn’t happen, we seemed to have her attention.

I texted ASI staffers to alert them to my unexplained absence and to see if the could work with the hotel staff to free us. Lydia – the teenager – was texting with several family members and friends. It’s my understanding that her grandmother was quite instrumental in seeing to it that hotel staff didn’t forget about us.

Eventually, the fire department was called. We’d been trapped in the elevator for 45 minutes or more when they pried open the doors to reveal that we were about two feet below the landing for the sixth floor.

Just when we thought the situation had been resolved, they said we would have to wait a few more minutes to make sure the car was secured. Their concern was that if the car were to move while pulling one of us out, that person might be split in half. While none of us had considered that option – after all, the car hadn’t moved in nearly an hour – we shared their concerns once that possibility was pointed out to us.

A few minutes later, they got the all clear to proceed with our rescue and pulled us one-by-one to safety. As the only man in the car, I was obliged to be rescued last. Anyone who’s seen one of those old 1970s disaster movies knows that doesn’t always end well for the person in that position, but I was pulled to safety and the elevator never did plummet to the basement.

I’d like to thank my fellow ASI staffers for their valuable input during this harrowing time. For instance:

• When told by text that the firefighters had arrived, Christa replied, “Are any of them hot?” My response was that of the four people stuck in that elevator, I was the least qualified to answer that question.

• New admin assistant Chris Jones reminded me of an episode of The Office where a similar event happened. Dwight on the show then proceeded to establish a “pee corner.” Thankfully, we didn’t have to resort to that in elevator No. 7.

• Zahrah Khan offered to save me some food if it started to run low.

• They greeted me with a round of applause when I finally made it to the front door of the reception more than an hour into the event.

Like death and taxes, life is guaranteed to throw some adventures our way. For a writer like me, an hour stuck in an elevator is time well spent if I have a fun story to tell as a result.

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