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Sept. 20 ASI Weekly


ASI Announces Staff Changes, Additions

The American Sheep Industry Association announced recently that Zahrah Khan has moved into a full-time position with the association and will now serve as project manager for accounting and convention. Khan has worked with the association since December of 2008 – first on a contract basis and then part-time for many years – and she will now oversee ASI Annual Convention planning with consultant Brenda Hamill of Let’s Meet LLC in addition to her accounting duties.

While Khan has regularly handled convention registration as part of her job, she will now coordinate every facet of the association’s convention, from planning the schedule to working with the host hotel. Khan jumped right into her new duties this week while visiting the Scottsdale (Ariz.) Plaza Resort to make plans for the 2020 convention.

Ariel Heart of Colorado Springs, Colo., has joined the association in a part-time role and will serve as executive assistant for the office. Heart will oversee ASI membership, as well as administration of the Wool Outreach and Scrapie Outreach programs, among other duties.

Heart is a second-generation Colorado native. She has a varied background including working: as an adult trainer for the Department of Defense, in quality assurance for GPS satellite programs, as assistant manager for an apartment complex, as a processor at a loan company, and as administrative assistant for several companies along the way. She joined ASI in September and will be the first point of contact when calling the national headquarters in Denver.

Heather Pearce began working with ASI as a wool production and specialty markets consultant earlier this year, but like Khan has accepted an expanded role in the past month. She will continue to work with fiber enthusiasts and assist in carrying out raw wool programs while also coordinating other wool-related projects and assisting with administrative tasks.


Register Now for North Dakota Shearing, Classing Schools

The North Dakota Sheep Shearing School and Certified Wool Classing School are set for Nov. 23-25. With both classes limiting the number of students able to attend, register early to assure your place.

The shearing school will be held at the Hettinger (N.D.) Fairgrounds and is open to both experienced and non-experienced shearers. The professional shearing pattern, tagging and eyeing, equipment maintenance and repair, and wool handling and preparation are some of the topics to be covered. Instructors Mike Hagens, Wade Kopren and Alex Moser will offer one-on-one instruction.

Ron Pope will instruct the wool classing school at the Hettinger Armory. Topics to be covered include: wool fiber growth, development and production; objective measurement of wool; genetic selection programs; hands-on wool grading; wool contamination and handling practices; and wool classing, packaging, labeling and marking. Students will have the opportunity to test for Level 1 Certification.

The registration fee for each class is $150 and covers all tuition and materials. Additional information is available from Chris Schauer at or 701-567-4323.



Leading Edge Webinar Set for Tuesday

The next in a series of webinars sponsored by the American Sheep Industry Association’s Let’s Grow Program will take a look at results from the Leading Edge project in Utah. The webinar is set for Tuesday, Sept. 24, at 8 p.m. eastern time.

In 2015, the Leading Edge Sheep Production Group conducted a trial in conjunction with Mickel Brothers Sheep Company in Spring City, Utah. Two groups of commercial white-faced ewes were bred to black-faced terminal sire rams drawn from either the National Sheep Improvement Program or industry flocks. The NSIP rams were chosen based on their Estimated Breeding Values – a measure of their genetic merit – for growth (weight at weaning). The ewes were then managed as a single mob. At weaning, the offspring of the NSIP rams weighed on average 3 lbs. more than those from industry rams. That difference coincided with an increased market value of $4.32 per lamb. Clearly, that result was promising and supported the notion that genetic selection works in practice and is profitable.

The Leading Edge Group was keen to do more. Building on this earlier study, a larger effort was undertaken. It had three aims. First, as before, black-faced terminal sire rams from industry and NSIP were compared. This time, however, two categories of NSIP rams were used: rams with high EBVs for post-weaning weight, and rams with high EBVs for post-weaning muscle depth. Second, the progeny of these three groups of rams were evaluated from birth all the way through harvest. Third, DNA technologies were incorporated into the study; they were used to assign sire parentage. Once again, the Mickel Brothers Sheep Company collaborated and provided 1,100 commercial white-faced ewes for breeding to the 42 black-faced terminal sire rams tested.

In this webinar, results of the project will be highlighted. The key question to be addressed is did the progeny of the NSIP rams perform as anticipated based on their sires’ EBVs? Was that reflected in their weights at weaning and at harvest? Did it impact the quality of their carcasses? How did the progeny of the NSIP rams compare with the industry rams? As hint to the answers, genetic selection does indeed pay.

Let’s Grow Program funding supported the Leading Edge Group’s work on this project, investing more than $50,000 from ASI.

Ron Lewis, Ph.D., of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln will present Highlights from the Leading Edge Project, while Jay Parsons, Ph.D., will host the webinar.

Click Here to register.



Heritage Livestock Conference Looks at All Things Sheep

The theme for the 2019 Livestock Conservancy Heritage Livestock Conference is All Things Sheep, and will cover a handful of topics important to those raising heritage breeds. The conference is set for Oct. 25-26 in Santa Rosa, Calif.

Topics include: targeted grazing, holistic management, fiber production, natural wool dying, conservation breeding and marketing sheep products. Plans also call for three interactive panel discussions on: biological challenges of farming with rare breeds, getting the most out of animals beyond fiber and recreating a national fiber system.

The Three Sheeps to the Wind Tour will include stops at Jessica Switzer Green’s fiber design workshop, where she creates heirloom blankets and throws. She sources wool from small mills and fiber farms and tailors each piece with care. Tour participants will then walk next door to Spirit Works Distillery to learn about the company’s “grain to glass” philosophy.

Click Here for more information.



Australian Regions Stabilize After Record Week

After the rollercoaster ride the Australian wool market has been on in the previous few weeks, this week’s auction provided what many industry members were hoping for – a solid week in which prices were consolidated.

The national quantity rose to 30,135 bales, however compared to this time last year, the offering is down by 21.4 percent, or 73,762 bales. The Melbourne market rose rapidly on the second selling day of the previous sale – so much so that the levels being achieved were well above those of the other centers. For this reason, the Melbourne sale recorded losses on the first day this week, bringing prices more into line with Sydney and Fremantle. The Southern market indicator fell by 22 cents on the back of these losses.

The Sydney region did not sell on the final day of the previous week, and due to this fact prices needed to rise to come into line with Melbourne and Fremantle. On the first day of selling in Sydney, the individual Micron Price Guides generally rose by 35 to 55 cents, pushing the Northern region indicator up by 22 cents. With one center up and the other down, there was a minimal change in the AWEX Eastern Market Indicator of 4 cents. The second day the MPGs in all centers rose – generally by 5 to 15 cents. These increases helped push the EMI up by 11 cents. The EMI added 7 cents for the series, closing the week at 1,542 Australian cents. Due to currency movement when viewed in U.S. dollars, the EMI fell by 9 U.S. cents.

The skirting market attracted strong competition, pushing prices up by 30 to 50 cents, making the skirtings the best performing sector for the week. The national quantity reduces slightly for the following week. Currently, there are 29,290 bales available to the trade, with all three centers in operation.



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