NSIP, Ram Test Data Offered for Buyers at Upcoming Sales
Special to the Sheep Industry News
Performance tested sheep will once again hold a piece of prime time at this year’s Texas Sheep and Goat Expo. This is the fourth year for the Expo, presented by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, and will be the second year the event will conclude with a sale of performance-tested animals.
All sheep and goats in the sale will be required to enter the ring with performance data, either from centralized ram performance testing, or through the National Sheep Improvement Program.
In addition to rams, this year’s sale will feature pens of two or three ewe lambs or yearlings.
Dr. Reid Redden, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service state sheep and goat specialist and event organizer, said they expect a dozen or two sheep from each breed type.
“We had a good sale last year and expect an even better response this year,” said Redden. “This is a performance-based sale designed to increase the awareness and understanding of genetic selection via performance testing.”
Redden, who also serves as NSIP Chairman, said sale organizers were pleased with last year’s maiden voyage.
“We had about 20 rams, mostly Rambouillet and Katahdin,” he said. “The Katahdins with top EBVs brought around $1,000 each. Their excellent Estimated Breeding Values for parasite resistance and lambing rates made them popular with Texas ranchers. The Rambouillets brought an average of $600 to $700, with all rams with EBVs selling, unlike some of those without.”
Redden explains the NSIP system of EBVs is a more robust technology than the centralized ram testing, providing buyers and breeders with more information. Unlike the centralized ram test, NSIP measures reproductive traits and parasite resistance. It also tracks pre-weaning traits, not just post-weaning traits.
“We encourage using the NSIP EBVs because they are more comprehensive,” said Redden, though he is glad to see producers using data from either system. Performance testing and data have been slow to take hold in Texas, compared with other parts of the country.
“It’s great to see the increased interest in sheep with performance information,” said NSIP Program Director Rusty Burgett. “Using this kind of data is a way to get better performance on the same inputs – getting more from less.”
Redden and the AgriLife team hope the sale will help spark interest in the trend.
“The primary goal of the sale is to promote awareness of performance testing, as it is a proven method to improve the genetic potential of livestock, especially for hard-to-measure traits,” said Redden, who adds AgriLife’s mission is not to promote individual breeders. “We just want to get rams and ewes with performance data in front of producers.”
He says producers at last year’s sale paid close attention, but some are still not sure how it all works. In selecting breeding stock, he said buyers should first identify the traits they need to improve, then look for animals with above average numbers in those areas.
In addition to data provided at the sale, NSIP provides an online search engine to help with selection decisions.
“The searchable database has been a tremendous asset to helping people choose breeding stock fine-tuned to meet their specific needs,” said Burgett. “It’s a great way to filter through the thousands of animals that are on NSIP to find those that will help reach individual production goals. Everyone’s sheep, markets and goals are different, and this tool embraces that diversity while allowing the technology to help you select the type of sheep you want.”
The Texas Sheep and Goat Expo is billed as the state’s premier sheep and goat educational event, providing the perfect opportunity to introduce sheep producers to new technologies. Nearly 350 people attended last year’s Expo, with more than 80 percent commenting in a post-expo survey that they expected to adopt at least one new management practice learned there. More than 70 percent said they anticipated an economic benefit from their participation.
The 2018 Expo is scheduled for Aug. 17-18 at the First Community Spur Arena in San Angelo, Texas. The performance sale will take place around 3 p.m. on Aug. 18, immediately after the close of the Expo.
Tying education to performance sales is an approach that has worked well for NSIP in recent years. The Center of the Nation Sale – held each July in Spencer, Iowa – has earned a reputation as the premier event for learning about the latest in breeding data technologies and for buying/selling the results.
“Combining education sessions with sales is a great way to learn a new skill, then immediately put it into practice,” said Burgett. “It’s also a great networking opportunity and gives producers one-on-one access to industry educators and professionals, something that doesn’t happen every day.”
Last year, NSIP added a second sale to highlight Eastern U.S. sheep. The second annual Eastern NSIP Sheep Sale is scheduled for Aug. 11 in Wooster, Ohio. The 13th Center of the Nation Sale will be held July 28.
“All of these sales offer opportunities for producers to buy sheep that are at the top of their breed, with the data to prove it,” said Redden. “That’s how we will continue to grow the U.S. sheep industry, and make lamb and wool production more profitable.”
Those wanting to place sheep on the Texas sale should contact Redden at 325-653-4576 or firstname.lastname@example.org by May 1.
Breeders interested in the Center of the Nation Sale or the NSIP Eastern Sale should contact Burgett at 515-708-8850 or email@example.com.