July 19 ASI Weekly
Whaley Wins Sheep Heritage Foundation Scholarship
Pursuing a master’s in animal science, Jaelyn Whaley is the second straight University of Wyoming student to claim the Sheep Heritage Foundation Scholarship. She picks up $3,000 from the foundation to help with her education expenses.
Whaley applied for the honor a year ago but watched as Chad Page – her lab mate at Wyoming – earned the scholarship instead. This year, it was her turn.
“This is such a big honor,” said Whaley, who grew up helping with the family’s small farm flock in Colorado. In her scholarship application, Whaley wrote, “My family runs a Suffolk/Hampshire flock providing club lambs to youth and grass-fed lamb to local consumers. As assistant manager, my marketing role has taught me the value of genetics to product promotion. My academic career has surrounded me with passionate sheep enthusiasts and continued to promote my drive to serve the American sheep industry.”
Whaley is looking to do just that by tackling the industry-wide issue of lamb seasonality in her research.
“Seasonality of production is an inherent issue in the lamb industry as approximately 85 percent of lambs in the United States are born in the first five months of the year (USDA/APHIS, 2011),” she wrote in her scholarship application. “Ideally, lambs are harvested between 6 and 12 months of age leading to shortages in lamb supply from May to August. However, the lamb packing industry requires continual supply. In order to compensate for supply shortages feedlots must extend days on feed, pushing lambs beyond weights appropriate for their frame size. Sheep industry working groups have identified lamb products excessive in fat as a major threat to consumer satisfaction and demand for American lamb. To date, there has been no quantification of the accrued costs of excessively finished lamb carcasses in the U.S. processing sector.
“From May to August, 7,378 carcass images were captured to quantify carcass characteristics during the most seasonally constrained supply periods to assess adverse impacts of production seasonality on lamb quality characteristics. Further investigations will evaluate carcass characteristics from September to May (more than 3,000 images) when lamb supplies are more current and carcass characteristics are expected to be within acceptable ranges. Concurrent data collection at the plant, and economic analysis will calculate the cumulative cost of excessively finished lambs. Results will be used in extension and educational programs to help inform sheep producers and industry professionals of the impacts of excessively finished lambs to all production segments of the American lamb industry. The anticipated completion date is May 31, 2020.”
The million-dollar question for Whaley as this point is what she does after finishing her master’s program.
“I might (pursue a Ph.D.), but what I do want to do is get back into the industry that I’ve grown up in and continue to promote American lamb and the American sheep industry.”
Webinar Will Address Starting a Small Farm
The next webinar in a continuing series sponsored by the American Sheep Industry Association’s Let’s Grow Program will help those looking to get their start on a small piece of land.
The How to Start a Farm on Limited Acreage webinar will be led by South Carolina sheep producer Debbie Webster, who is active with both ASI and the Dairy Sheep Association of North America. As usual, Dr. Jay Parsons will host the webinar.
Webster bought a few sheep and goats more than 20 years ago for a yearly live nativity scene. Today, she has the only licensed sheep milk dairy in South Carolina. Her cheese business has grown tremendously each year. She also has a meat handlers license and sells pastured lamb. She started the first 4-H dairy sheep club in the United States, and her agri-tourism program served more than 1,000 families last summer. She offers on-farm classes for small ruminant care and cheese making, and uses her sheep for therapy for children with special needs. She’s passionate about helping people start farms. She founded the Whispering Pines Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to getting children and youth outdoors and involved in dairy sheep and farming.
This webinar will offer basic information on setting up a homestead to raise milk and meat. There will be multiple ideas and comparisons for fences, shelters and other equipment, as well as ideas for growth. The webinar will offer insight on variations of care and equipment, a common-sense approach to supplying your family with proteins on your own land, how to milk share, basic milking equipment for home use, as well as steps to grow into a business. Ideas for setup with the whole family involved – including children or a plan for senior adults wanting some supplemental income without too much stress.
Click Here to register for the free webinar.
ASI Submits Comments on Gray Wolf Delisting
The American Sheep Industry Association joined with the Public Lands Council, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and a number of state livestock associations this week in submitting comments on the proposed delisting of the gray wolf.
The livestock associations have been involved with the agency’s actions with regard to gray wolves at every step of the way and feel that delisting should occur. At this point, the requirements for delisting have been met for many years and the best available science overwhelmingly indicates that this is an appropriate action. The livestock associations offer comments on the following points:
- The current listing of the gray wolf ( lupus) is unlawful, as the entity is neither a valid “species” nor “endangered” under the ESA.
- While uncertainties in taxonomy persist, the best available science indicates the existing populations within the gray wolf entity should be treated as a whole; due to its prior extirpation and practical concerns, FWS should continue to treat the Mexican wolf as non-essential experimental population.
- The wolf has exceeded recovery criteria outlined in the gray wolf Recovery Plans, as evidenced by wolf population estimates and expansion of its range. The ESA does not require expansion into “historical” range to achieve recovery.
- The livestock associations feel that management at state level is appropriate.
In sum, numbers and range occupancy have been stable or increasing for the better part of the last decade or more. Gray wolves are recovered within the meaning of the ESA. While differences of opinion may persist, the best available science indicates wolves have surpassed measurable objectives laid out in the recovery plans and state management plans, and expanded into all or significant portions of current available range, and in some cases, into portions of “historic” range. The species’ status thus exceeds what is necessary to be considered recovered consistent with FWS’s recovery criteria.
DOL Announces H-2A Changes
The Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration and Wage and Hour Division released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking this week to solicit comments on proposed changes to the H-2A Agriculture Guest Worker Program – which includes special provisions for sheepherders and shearers. The announcement is part of the administration’s efforts to make improvements to the H-2A program.
The notice is 489 pages long and herding and shearing advocates such as the American Sheep Industry Association, Mountain Plains Agriculture Service and the Western Range Association are still reviewing proposed changes to see how they might affect the American sheep industry.
The Department of Labor will be accepting comments on the proposed changes for 60 days after the announcement is officially published in the Federal Register. ASI anticipates filing comments on the matter in the weeks to come.
Podcast Looks at Public Land Use in Colorado, H-2A Program
The LaneCast podcast with ag broadcaster Lane Nordlund this week featured an interview with Chase Adams of the American Sheep Industry Association.
Adams joined the podcast to discuss a tour he’s on this week of ranchers who utilize public lands along Colorado’s western slope, as well as changes that might be coming in the H-2A agricultural guest worker program.
Salmon Testifies to House Subcommittee
Texas rancher Steve Salmon testified on Tuesday at the U.S. House Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture’s State of the U.S. Livestock and Poultry Economics Hearing on behalf of the American Sheep Industry Association and the Texas Sheep and Goat Raisers’ Association.
He touched on a variety of topics, including: international trade, bighorn sheep, mandatory price reporting, the minor use animal drug program and Wildlife Services.
Anthrax Infection Continues to Plague Texas
Since the Texas Animal Health Commission’s July 9 update, anthrax has been detected on three additional premises in southwest Sutton County and one location in south central Crockett County.
TAHC quarantined the premises after animals tested positive for the reportable disease. To date, eight premises in three Texas counties have had animals confirmed with anthrax. Animals include the following species: antelope, goats, horses and cattle. Producers have been advised on vaccinating exposed animals and instructed on the proper disposal of affected carcasses, as outlined by TAHC’s rules. Anthrax quarantines are typically lifted 10 days from vaccination or the last death loss.
It is common to see an increase in anthrax cases after periods of wet, cool weather, followed by hot, dry conditions. During these conditions, animals ingest the anthrax bacteria when they consume contaminated grass and hay, or inhale the spores. Outbreaks usually end when cooler weather arrives.
There is an effective anthrax vaccine available for use in susceptible livestock (including, but not limited to: swine, equine, sheep, goats, cattle, etc.). TAHC encourages livestock owners to consult with a local veterinary practitioner and consider vaccinating livestock if owners live within the triangular area bound by the towns of Uvalde, Ozona and Eagle Pass. Producers may order anthrax vaccines directly from the manufacturer.
“There is a vaccine, and those people who live in this triangle of hot spots, they vaccinate every year,” said American Sheep Industry Association President Benny Cox, who is 80 miles north of the outbreak in San Angelo. “What is unusual about this outbreak is that the people who have never seen it before – people outside of that triangle – are seeing it now. It’s probably been 15 years since we’ve had an outbreak this bad.”
After exposure to anthrax, it usually takes three to seven days for animals to show symptoms of anthrax. Once symptoms begin, death will usually occur within 48 hours. Acute fever followed by rapid death with bleeding from body openings are all common signs of anthrax in livestock. Owners of livestock and animals displaying symptoms consistent with anthrax or experiencing death of animals should contact a private veterinary practitioner or a TAHC official.
Source: Texas Animal Health Commission
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