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ASI Research Update Podcast: Wool

Sheep turn grass into wool, and that amazing fiber is at the center of this month’s ASI Research Update podcast. Chris Posbergh, Ph.D. – an assistant professor of sheep production at Montana State University – is leading a number of research efforts that take a closer look at wool, its characteristics and its uses, and joins this month’s podcast to discuss those projects.

While there are a lot of factors that determine the value of American wool, the single most important is the micron – or fiber diameter – of the wool. Also important is the yield of the wool, length and strength, color, contamination, etc.

“Our goal with the research I have planned and what we’re currently doing is trying to take it two different ways. One is to improve the overall quality of the fleece,” Posbergh said. “As well as to improve production. If we can produce more with the same amount of resources – or fewer resources – then that makes our industry more efficient and hopefully then makes it more profitable for our producers to grow wool.”

Among the research projects is a study of the microbiome of wool. Microbes are everywhere, and researchers at MSU recently took samples from five different body parts of a group of lambs. They’ll collect microbes again in August at weaning and a final time when the sheep are sheared for the first time in March of 2023.

“What we’re going to do is track them from their first year of life through their first shearing,” Posbergh said. “We’ll extract the microbial DNA from that sample and send it off for sequencing to determine if there are particular microbes that associate with some of the factors we talked about, such as micron, yield or color, as well. This is something we can utilize for producers to use for figuring out other management tools to adjust that microbiome to provide a better return.”

Click Here to listen to the podcast.


Leadership School Tours Colorado Feedlots, Processor

The National Lamb Feeders Association hosted its annual Howard Wyman Sheep Industry Leadership School in Northeastern Colorado this week as 24 students from across the country got a first-hand look at feeding and processing lambs, as well as the options that are available to market those lambs.

The school included a tour of Colorado Lamb Processors in Brush, Colo., and a stop at the nearby Rule Feedlot. After lunch on that first day, the group headed to Double J Lamb Feeders and Harper Livestock before enjoying a lamb chop dinner at the Eaton (Colo.) Country Club. The following two days of the school were spent in classroom sessions.

The sheep producer students were joined by a dozen U.S. Department of Agriculture Market News reporters in an effort to further educate the men and women who provide valuable pricing information to the American sheep industry. Employees of the agency were both students and teachers as they provided presentations on the new USDA Market News app, as well as on some of the larger sale barns they cover – including New Holland, Penn., and San Angelo, Texas.

“I think this group here this year came to learn. They were engaged on every topic that was discussed,” said NLFA Secretary Steve Schreier of Minnesota. “Such a diverse group and a young, intelligent group. They were really interested in the feeding industry here in Colorado because you just don’t see it on the scale that is here anywhere else in the country.”

That certainly was a draw for Utah producer Mathew Goble as his operation revolves around the commercial sheep industry. He also teaches agriculture at Snow College in Central Utah.

“I’m really excited about some things going on in the industry, and I really wanted to see the new processing plant in Brush,” he said. “But a big part of events like this for me is the networking. There are so many opportunities here in networking with others and finding ideas I can take back to my operation.”

The diverse group included a Dorper producer from Southwest Wyoming who sends most of her lamb to fine dining establishments.

“I have a niche market with my lamb,” said Rose Fisk. “In the last two years because of COVID, everyone got in an RV and drove to Yellowstone. I had to go out and buy more Dorper lambs to meet the demand. But I’m always looking for new ideas in marketing and reaching the different ethnic markets that are available.”

A handful of the students traveled from the Eastern half of the United States despite the fact that Western feedlots don’t factor in to how their operations run on a daily basis.

“I felt like I could get a different view of the industry,” said Barbie Casey of Ohio. Her family has a small hobby farm not far from the diverse population in Cincinnati and markets both lamb meat and show sheep. “A friend who came to this school in the past recommended it, but I’d put it off for several years. Now that my parents are retiring from off-farm jobs, I think that we might be looking to expand the sheep operation. We all take different roles. I’m focused on marketing and sales of the meat, while my brother takes on marketing and sales of the breeding stock. This school has definitely given me a better view of the industry as a whole, and not just the three to five state region in the Midwest that I come from.”

Click Here to learn more about NLFA and the Howard Wyman Sheep Industry Leadership School.


Ultrasound Clinic Scheduled for July in Nebraska

The Nebraska Sheep & Goat Producers will host an Ultrasound Clinic in Scottsbluff, Neb., on July 22-23.

ReproScan Ultrasound Technologies will conduct the hands-on clinic for producers. This clinic will be an introductory course to the basics of small ruminant ultrasound. There will be an afternoon lecture with hands-on training to follow the morning of July 23.

ReproScan was started in 2008 by veterinarians with the goal of providing portable, durable, functional and affordable ultrasound equipment to veterinarians and progressive livestock operations. ReproScan’s contributions to the development of veterinary ultrasound include introducing the first convex rectal probe for extension arm ultrasound and improvements to wireless, sunlight-friendly monitors. Since 2008, ReproScan has successfully introduced eight portable ultrasound units and several viewing devices to the marketplace.

The clinic is limited to 15 participants, with only one producer per operation. The deadline to register is July 1. For more information, contact Melissa Nicholson at ne.sheep.goat@gmail.

Source: Nebraska Sheep & Goat Producers


Australian Market Sees Strong End of Season Run

The Australian wool market continued to strengthen, recording an overall increase for the third consecutive series this week.

The national offering reduced, due in part to Fremantle having a non-sale week. There were 29,807 bales on offer in Sydney and Melbourne – 5,550 fewer bales than in the previous week. With only one sale remaining for the season, the total amount of wool offered this year is tracking well above the previous season. Compared to the corresponding sale of the 2020-21 season, there have been 109,889 more bales offered through the auction system – an increase of 6.4 percent.

Strongest demand was in the medium to broad Merino fleece types, and this was where the largest increases were felt. The individual Micron Price Guides in Sydney and Melbourne for 19.5 to 22 micron increased by 10 to 63 cents for the series. Falls in some of the finer MPGs – combined with minimal movements in the skirting, crossbred and oddment sectors – resulted in a 7-cent rise in the AWEX Eastern Market Indicator. The EMI closed the week at 1,474 Australian cents. The EMI has risen for the previous three weeks, adding a total of 60 cents during this period – a 4.2-percent rise. The EMI is now at its highest point since March 2020.

With the larger volumes and higher prices seen this year, the total dollar amount of wool sold is also tracking well above the previous season. At the conclusion of this series, the total dollar amount of wool sold for the season was $2,556.7 million – compared to $2,189.1 million for the same time last season – an increase of $377.6 million.

Next week is the final sale of the current season. Fremantle returns to the selling roster, bolstering the national offering. Currently, there are expected to be 45,003 bales on offer with all three centers in operation.

Click Here for the full Australian Wool Market Report.

Source: AWEX


ALB Offers Summer Cooking Promotion

Summer is officially here, and the American Lamb Board is turning up the heat with a summer outdoor adventure cooking promotion.

“Summer is the season for outdoor cooking and American lamb should be a part of it,” said ALB Chairman Peter Camino of Buffalo, Wyo.

The summer outdoor cooking adventure promotion includes a giveaway that provides winners with supplies to host an outdoor cooking adventure party for eight. The promotion calls on consumers to share their favorite outdoor cooking memory and why they love cooking outdoors. Outdoor cooking enthusiasts will also identify an outdoor cooking category they would like to experiment with, such as lamb shoulder for smoking, leg of lamb for live fire roasting, or loin chops for grilling.

Along with American lamb meat, giveaway winners will receive a Meater Plus meat thermometer and several outdoor adventure-related ALB promotional items. The promotion will appear throughout ALB’s consumer email outreach, social channels, sponsored influencer digital posts and paid social advertisements.

Source: ALB


Cornerstone Provides Legislative Update

The American Sheep Industry Association’s lobbying firm – Cornerstone Government Affairs – offered an update this week on legislative issues in Washington, D.C.

House Committee Releases FY23 Agriculture, Interior Funding Bills

Last week, the House Appropriations Committee released text for the FY 2023 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies funding bill, as well as the FY23 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies funding bill. The FY23 Agriculture-Rural Development bill included $27.2 billion in total spending – an 8 percent increase from FY22. The FY23 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies bill included a total of $44.8 billion in spending – an 18 percent increase from FY22 levels.

The two bills contained a variety of language that is pertinent to the American sheep industry, including language on livestock protection, the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station, nonlethal wildlife strategies and the Scrapie Eradication Program. Appropriations were also set aside for equine, cervid and small ruminant health, and wildlife damage management. ASI helped insert report language supporting gene editing of livestock regulation at USDA. The two bills will still need to be approved by the full House of Representatives and conferenced with Senate versions that will come out at a later date.

For more information, here are the links to the FY23 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies proposed legislation:

FY23 Draft Bill Summary

FY23 Draft Bill

FY23 Report Language

For more information here are the links to the FY23 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies proposed legislation:

FY23 Draft Bill Summary

FY23 Draft Bill

FY23 Report Language has not yet been released for this bill.

Vilsack USFS Action to Restore Forests

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack issued an announcement this week directing the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service to improve resilience and address the climate crisis. This announcement comes after President Joe Biden’s Executive Order on Strengthening the Nation’s Forests, Communities and Local Economies.

Sec. Vilsack stated that the U.S. Forest Service must take direct action to restore forests. These actions include identifying, managing and restoring damaged forest areas throughout the nation.  To accomplish this, USFS will create an analysis to establish decision support tools to increase carbon stewardship, wildlife habitat and outdoor recreation.

The announcement also addressed the development of plans for prescribed fire safety, accelerated reforestation, increased markets for sustainable forests products and increased nursery capacity. The secretary also directed USFS to further guidance on data management, tool usage, plans and recommendations within ecological knowledge, and the advancement of environmental justice equity.

Source: Cornerstone Government Affairs


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