To sheep and goats, ab libitum feeding is a buffet of goodies that are often quickly devoured. When this buffet includes high amounts of grain, the metabolic reaction inside the small ruminants can be devastating. Feeding livestock based on their physiological stage and protein needs helps to maintain a balance between feeds consumed and energy required.

Dr. Nancy Irlbeck, associate dean and professor of animal sciences at Colorado State University, has found that to be the case on her operation called Aniroonz Sheep Company.

“Nutrition is a puzzle,” she says. “It depends on your management, the behaviorisms of the animal and how much money you are willing to spend, but keep in mind that your feeding costs will be greater than 70 percent of the budget.”



The Wisconsin Sheep Breeders Cooperative (WSBC) 58th Annual Bred Ewe and Ewe Lamb Sale will be held Nov. 5 at the Rock County Fairgrounds in Janesville.

A show to determine sale order will start at 9 a.m., an educational youth livestock judging contest will be held at 11 a.m. and the sale, run by auctioneer Bob Johnson of Badger State Auction, will start at 1 p.m.

Sale entries are due Oct. 5 and can be found at or by contacting WSBC Executive Secretary Jill Alf at or 608-868-2505. New this year, reduced commissions, an incentive for participating state breed organizations and an online virtual catalog with photos submitted by consignors. The catalog will be posted online by Oct. 20. Out of state entries are welcome.

Questions can be directed to Jill Alf or sale chairman Steve Bingen at 262-629-4221 or


The American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) this week shared with the members of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee and the House of Representatives Agriculture Committee the industry’s priorities for the next Farm Bill.

“The industry’s provisions in the Farm Bill are very modest in the scope of agriculture spending but provide the only risk management available for America’s sheep producers,” commented Peter Orwick, ASI executive director. “The industry priorities essentially extend the programs each as authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill.”

The National Sheep Industry Improvement Center was authorized in the current Farm Bill with $1 million in mandatory funds and up to $10 million in appropriations authorized per year of the legislation. A formal regulation to implement the center for grant-making capability was published in late 2010, and the board of directors was appointed by the Secretary with its inaugural meeting held in January of 2011. The program is eligible for at least $10 million in mandated spending in the Farm Bill and is considered critical to the top national priority of increasing the U.S. sheep inventory.



Volatility in international markets has created unprecedented fluctuation in the Australian dollar. Financial commentator Alan Kohler says he can’t remember a period of fluctuation like the past four months, when the dollar has ranged between 99 and 110 US cents.

The Australian Wool Exchange’s Eastern Market Indicator (EMI) fell this week by A$39 cents/kilo, or 3 percent to A$1,235/kilo clean, its lowest value since January. The Australian dollar has continued to weaken and is today at almost parity with the U.S. dollar. The EMI expressed in that latter currency has fallen by no less than 5 percent during the past week, to US$1,236/kilo.

The weakness of the market has again been attributed to the uncertain economic climate, which is influencing a selective demand from buyers, at a time when the supply is ample. The volume offered at market so far this season is 13.5 percent higher than the corresponding total in 2010/11, when wet weather was affecting auction volumes.



Due to the temperature conditions in the United States, goats experience a period of seasonal anestrous in which reproductive activity is not observed. In females, reproduction is controlled by the estrous cycle. This represents the time from one standing heat to the next. This cycle is usually 21 days apart, with the actual time for standing heat being one to three days. This cycle continues throughout the life of the female and is interrupted only by season, pregnancy and lactation.


Indiana Sheep Symposium is scheduled for Sept. 24

Katie Nickas

Indiana sheep and goat producers are shearing up for the Indiana Sheep Association’s 2011 Sheep Symposium, to be held Sept. 24 at the Boone County Fairgrounds in Lebanon.

Meat Ewe @ the Symposium is an all-day event for sheep and goat producers, wool and fiber growers and individuals hoping to learn more about the industries, which are experiencing demand like never before, echoed Paul Russell, advertising chairman for this year’s meeting.

“Record-breaking lamb prices, short supplies of wool and breeding stock, loss of grazing lands in the western U.S., low value for the American dollar affecting import values, growing demand from the local food movements and more, all combined, has created some very difficult challenges and some tremendous opportunity in the sheep industry,” he said.