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Shearing Schools Set Dates for 2022-23

If you’re interested in learning the art of sheep shearing, now is the time to start making plans to attend a shearing school this fall or next spring. Schools around the United States have (or soon will) set dates for the coming months.

“A shearing school is a great place for anyone interested in shearing to get their start,” said American Sheep Industry Association Deputy Director Rita Samuelson. “Students at these schools each year vary from small flock producers who want to shear their own sheep to those who are considering shearing as a full-time profession.”

ASI offers training materials that are used in conjunction with hands-on instruction at many of the schools around the United States. Attendance is often limited at these schools, so prospective students are encouraged to register as soon as possible with the school of their choice.

Schools that have submitted their dates to ASI include:

  • The Vermont Shearing School is set for Sept. 10-11. Contact Jim McRae at or call 802-483-2463 for more information.
  • The Montana Wool Harvesting School is scheduled for Oct. 13-16 in Molt, Mont. Contact Denise Hoepfner at to register.
  • The North Dakota State University Hettinger Research Extension Center Shearing School is set for Nov. 19-21 in Hettinger, N.D. For more information, contact Christopher Schauer, Ph.D., at or 701-567-3582.
  • The South Dakota State University Shearing School is scheduled for December at the SDSU Sheep Unit in Brookings, S.D. Contact Kelly Froehlich at or 605-688-5433 for more information.
  • Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Mo., will host a shearing school on March 1-2, 2023. Contact Extension Associate Amy Bax at to register.
  • The Tennessee Sheep Producers Association Sheep Shearing School is scheduled for April 7-8, 2023, at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tenn. Contact Mark Powell at 615-519-7796 or for more information.
  • Shepherd’s Cross in Claremore, Okla., will host a shearing school on April 13-15, 2023. Visit to register.

Other shearing schools will be added to the ASI Calendar of Events as they are scheduled.


Podcast Looks at Accelerated Lambing

Richard Ehrhardt, Ph.D., of Michigan State University joins this month’s ASI Research Update podcast to discuss Accelerated Lambing Systems.

“I’ve always been interested in sheep production, of course,” Ehrhardt said. “My introduction (to accelerated lambing) came when I was at Cornell University in the late 80s and early 90s. I was a grad student there and they worked pretty extensively on accelerated systems. It’s the way they managed their program. So, I got exposed to it that way, and it really benefited my research because I could get sheep to study any time of the year.”

Ehrhardt was also exposed to the practical side of area farmers using accelerated lambing techniques developed at the university when he worked as a shearer during his college years.

“As a sheep producer, I started my own farm in the early 2000s, and that gave me a chance to put the things I learned both at Cornell and in the field together in my own farm and see what really works and what doesn’t. Eventually, I came to Michigan State and really started studying these systems a little more formally.”

Click Here to listen to the podcast.


Court Grants Coalition Intervention in Wolf Lawsuit

The Public Lands Council, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the American Sheep Industry Association and other agriculture coalition members commended a decision this week from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit that will allow the coalition to intervene in the case Defenders of Wildlife v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and defend the previous administration’s delisting of the gray wolf.

“Livestock producers are directly impacted by the species management decisions made by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, especially when it comes to species with significant federal footprints. The decision to allow the coalition to intervene in this case demonstrates what we have known all along: livestock producers deserve to have their voices heard on delisting the gray wolf,” said Kaitlynn Glover, executive director of PLC and NCBA Natural Resources. “We look forward to engaging in this case to defend the delisting of a species that has so clearly recovered.”

“ASI is pleased with this action to allow these agricultural organizations to actively participate and seek a positive legal decision that supports our farmers and ranchers,” said American Sheep Industry Association Executive Director Peter Orwick.

“AFBF appreciates the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals for recognizing agriculture’s interest in defending the delisting of the gray wolf. Farmers and ranchers share the goal of a healthy and thriving ecosystem, and when the gray wolf exceeded recovery goals, it became an Endangered Species Act success story,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall. “With populations now thriving, management of the species should be the responsibility of the states, which can more effectively determine the most appropriate actions to manage gray wolf populations.”

In the decision the court of appeals wrote, “the district court abused its discretion by denying permissive intervention.” With intervention granted, NCBA, PLC, ASI and our partners will now be full participants in the case defending the gray wolf delisting.

Click Here for the full decision.

Source: Public Lands Council


Australian Wool Market Even for Second Straight Week

The Australian wool market recorded no overall movement for the second consecutive series. Due to a lack of quantity in the West at this time of year, the Fremantle region did not require a sale and as a result the national offering fell by 7,355 bales to 37,431 bales.

The smaller offering attracted continued solid buyer support, and the prices on offer for Merino fleece types were generally in line with those of the previous series. The only real holes evident in the market were for 17 to 18.5 micron wools in the South. The weakening in this section was reflected in the individual Micron Price Guides in Melbourne, which in this range fell by between 5 and 36 cents.

These falls were the driving force behind the 3-cent loss in the Southern indicator for the week. In the North, the movements in the Merino fleece MPGs ranged by between -8 and +9 cents. The 3-cent lift in the Northern indicator completely offset the loss in the South. The result was another unchanged AWEX Eastern Market Indicator, which again closed the week at 1,342 Australian cents. In a similar pattern to the previous series – due to a weakening Australian dollar (the AUD dropped by a further 0.42 U.S. cents since the last sale) – the EMI lost ground when viewed in U.S. dollar terms. The EMI dropped by 6 U.S. cents, closing the week at 926 U.S. cents.

The oddment sector was the strongest performer for the week. General rises in locks, stains and crutchings of between 5 and 20 cents, helped push the two Merino Carding indicators up by an average of 12 cents.

Fremantle returns to the market next week, bolstering the national offering. Currently, there are expected to be 39,192 bales on offer in Fremantle, Melbourne and Sydney (which is a designated Superfine Sale).

Click Here for the Full Australian Wool Market Report.

Source: AWEX


Lamb Quality Influenced by On-Farm Practices

Anyone who raises lambs affects end-product quality. On-farm practices are significant factors in how consumers will or will not find American lamb a great meal choice. This was a major take-away from the 2022 American Lamb Summit held August 8-9 in East Lansing, Mich.

Improving flocks through genetic selection was discussed in multiple Lamb Summit sessions. Tom Murphy, Ph.D., a research geneticist at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center, advised producers to start by selecting the right terminal sires.

“U.S. sheep producers need to improve reproductive efficiency and carcass characteristics to be competitive in red meat production. We need to move beyond visual appraisal as our sole means of evaluating breeding stock,” Murphy stated.

He called out three strategies: marker-assisted selection, accurate identification of genetic superiority and purposeful crossbreeding.

Marker-assisted selection means choosing animals that have a single gene variant that should deliver large impacts. Most growth and carcass traits are controlled by many genes – hundreds or thousands – whose variants each have small effects. However, a few gene variants with large effects on carcass traits have been identified in sheep populations throughout the world. Carriers of the Myostatin gene are “double muscled,” which is really an increase in the number of muscle fibers, while the Callipyge gene increases the size of muscle fibers. However, meat from Callipyge lambs is much tougher than normal.

Accurately identifying genetic superiority requires a systematic manner to compare animals. The cattle industry does this routinely using EPDs. For sheep, it’s using the National Sheep Improvement Plan’s Estimated Breeding Values. Murphy made it clear that EBVs will always be a more accurate indicator of genetic merit than only considering an individual’s performance, and they will become more accurate with the inclusion of more flocks.

“Producers selling seedstock should be in NSIP. Commercial producers don’t need to be members, but it should be standard practice to buy replacement rams (and ewes) with the aid of EBVs,” Murphy said.

Crossbreeding has proven its value for generations. Murphy focused on selecting a terminal breed of sire (faster growth, heavier muscling, leaner, higher maintenance costs, fewer lambs born/reared) mated to a maternal breed of ewe (slower growth, lighter muscled, lower maintenance costs, more lambs born/reared).

“It is perhaps more important to select genetically superior individuals by using EBVs instead of choosing a breed then looking at animals only within that breed,” Murphy said.

Michigan State University’s Andrea Garmyn, Ph.D., reinforced the importance of genetics on red meat yield, which has been a focus in Australia and New Zealand for years. She also pointed out that as animals age, connective tissue gets stronger and doesn’t break down with cooking. Rapid growth rate promotes synthesis of new collagen that breaks down easily with cooking while a slower growth rate makes connective tissue that is harder to break down during cooking.

Intramuscular fat (marbling) hasn’t been a big topic with lamb. However, Garmyn pointed to research linking marbling to improved eating quality. She also identified a major challenge within the lamb industry: marbling is not assessed as part of USDA quality grading.

When it comes to postmortem aging, the majority occurs within the first seven days. Currently, most lamb is aged about five days. Aging carcasses longer will see tenderness continue to improve, but at a slower rate. Research has found that aging lamb 21 days improved overall liking by consumers. Aging more than 45 days doesn’t increase tenderness and can cause off-flavors.

Presentation slides used by Murphy and Garmyn are on

Source: ALB


Registration Open for Hoosier Sheep Symposium

Purdue Agriculture’s Indiana Sheep and Wool Market Development Program is sponsoring – in part – the Indiana Sheep Association’s annual Hoosier Sheep Symposium on Sept. 17 at Shipshewana (Ind.) Auction Restaurant.

The program features sheep professionals, educational sessions for producers and others in the state’s sheep industry.

“We have put together a program covering key flock management, marketing and farm productivity,” said Larry Hopkins, ISA president. “Producers can also network and enjoy good food, camaraderie and an overall good time spent with fellow members of the industry.”

The event runs 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Session topics include:

  • Keys to Profitable Sheep Production by Phil Berg of Pipestone, Minnesota West.
  • Making the Most of Pastures by Keith Johnson, Purdue forage extension specialist.
  • Selecting Flock Replacements by Phil Berg, Pipestone, Minnesota West.
  • What’s the Market Look Like? by Doug Brooks, United Producers.

Over lunch, ISA will conduct a brief business meeting in which new officers will be elected and ISA awards presented, including the Master Shepherd, Shepherd of the Year and Friend of ISA awards. To find out more about these awards and how to nominate, please visit the ISA website at

To register, visit The attendance fee – which includes breakfast and lunch – is $25. Early registration must be postmarked by Sept. 8. To register after Sept. 8, RSVP to Emma O’Brien by calling or texting 317-607-5664.

Source: Purdue News Service


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