Round 5 -- Funded Projects, 2017
Dairy Sheep Association of North America (DSANA)
This ASI grant application will support the developing of a systematic approach to gathering quantitative genetic data throughout the United States to improve the sheep dairy flock productivity and profitability in three areas: milk production; lamb production; and, the quality of the wool clip. The action goal of this application is to bring together the entities interested in and working on genetic improvement efforts together to come to consensus on a strategy for moving North American dairy sheep genetic improvement forward. The long-term impact of successful implementation of this project will mean sheep dairy producers will be able to build and have access to a database necessary to obtain across-flock estimated breeding values (EBVs) to improve milk, lamb and wool production. In addition, the sheep industry as a whole will be able to access dairy rams that have not only exemplary milk production, but may also improve their lamb crop, and perhaps even their wool clip.
The Dairy Sheep Association of North America’s ASI Let’s Grow Grant:
Genetic Improvements in the Sheep Dairy Industry: Milk production, lamb production, and wool production is on target for developing a three-tiered strategy for establishing estimated breeding values for assessing dairy production. A survey was sent to members in August requesting information on record-keeping habits. Respondents were asked to also rank the importance of milk, meat, and wool. Of the 45 respondents, 95% rated milk production first, 88% rated meat production as second, and 88% rated wool production as third in importance. Recording individual milk production is critical for developing estimated breeding values. 55% of those responding indicating that they do indeed record milk production. 79% have been recording for 5 years or less. A face-to-face meeting of the sheep dairy genetics improvement workgroup met in August 2017 resulted in proposing a three-tiered producer participation plan to begin collecting the data needed to establish a baseline of individual ewe production records. It is intended to bridge the milk sample data analysis expertise of Dairy Herd Improvement organizations throughout the U.S.A. and Canada with the estimated breeding value expertise of the Centre for Genetic Improvement of Livestock at University of Guelph in collaboration with CEPOQ (Center of Expertise in Ovine Production of Quebec). Approximately 900 straws of Lacaune semen have arrived in the U.S.A. for distribution to DSANA member dairy flocks. All participating flocks are expected to participate at a minimum, in the first tier of recording. The dairy genetics workgroup will be presenting the three-tiered plan to DSANA members for approval at the DSANA Symposium to be held November 30 – December 2 in Sherbrooke Quebec.
Iowa State University
Postpartum administration of meloxicam, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, has increased whole-lactation milk production in dairy cattle by approximately 10-11%. If postpartum meloxicam could increase milk production in ewes nursing twin lambs, it is likely that lamb growth would be enhanced due to increased availability of milk during the first 3-4 weeks of lactation. The objective of this study is to evaluate the effects of postpartum meloxicam administration on ewe health and lamb productivity.
Kansas Sheep Association
Kansas and surrounding states
We have seen a resurgence of sheep numbers and sheep producers in Kansas and we want to capitalize on this growth by providing timely educational seminars relating to sheep production. These programs will have break-out sessions geared to varying interest and experience levels. By providing different locations in Kansas and two times of the year we are hoping to allow people to attend when it fits their schedule. We are also hoping to attract producers from the surrounding states
Maine Sheep Breeders Association
Maine and surrounding states
The Maine Sheep Breeders Association is partnering with University of Maine Cooperative Extension to present two workshops focusing on sheep production. One of the workshops will be the introduction to artificial insemination using the University of Maine's Icelandic sheep flock for those producers considering out-of-season breeding. Another workshop will be Sheep 101 and focus on herd health, feeding, and animal selection. Producers attending the Maine Fiber Frolic, the Maine Sheep Breeders Meeting & Wool Pool, Workshops, and Shearing School will be invited to join a producer group based on wool, meat, or dairy focus.
Mountain Plains Agricultural Association
Spanish educational resources for western range herders are important for continuous improvement of
both lamb and wool production by educating the critical workforce that raise, care for, and handle flocks
on a daily basis. The goal of this project is to develop three Spanish/English educational resources for
herder and owner/manager use that focus on production practices typically found in western range
flocks. Proposed field guide booklets are: 1) a field pocket guide about basic sheep care and
management; 2) resource guide on herder safety in livestock handling, and camp care; and 3) translation
and picture guide of common tools/equipment used on western range operations by sheep herders.
These weatherproof, pocketsize field guides will describe the best management practice in Spanish on
one side and English on the back size to enhance herder understanding and communication with sheep
owner/manager. The field booklets will be distributed to employers of Spanish speaking herders.
Possible distribution points include ASI, Mountain Plains Agricultural Service and Western Range
North Dakota State University/University of Minnesota
North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota
The opportunity for price discovery through enhanced value‐based marketing options is in
the near future. The timing of this proposal is critical as it offers the chance to connect the
supply chain to true market value of sheep/lamb produced across the U.S. Inclusion of
instrument grading to augment USDA Lamb Grading has been a delayed process, yet the
potential and optimism of technology and pricing mechanisms that reward lean, muscular
carcasses of a desired weight will reinforce value of sheep production management decisions in
the future. Sheep producers in North Dakota, Minnesota, and South Dakota will be included for
producer educational events, on‐farm production management surveys, and inevitably, provide
finished lambs that will represent a “gate‐to‐rail” focus for Northern Plains producers. Data
and results will be disseminated to ND, MN, and SD producers and utilized for future economic
analysis that defines an impact of production management decisions on lamb market value.
National Sheep Improvement Program
This project will expand the use of quantitative genetic selection in the U.S. sheep industry by combining the relationship and information distribution that breed associations have with their members and the genetic analysis program operated by the National Sheep Improvement Program. Collaboration between breed associations and genetic analysis have been outlined as a priority for the adoption of NSIP and has proven to be a successful model in other livestock species. Forming this relationship will expand the use of estimated breeding values in selection decision to increase the productivity and profitability of the U.S. sheep industry and allow breed associations to offer more service to their members while increasing the number of sheep being registered.