EXPANSION DECISIONS FOR THE PART-TIME SHEEP PRODUCER

TOM STANLEY

DR. SCOTT P. GREINER

Prices for market lambs in the fall of 2010 reached historic highs.  Total numbers of sheep in the U.S. have been in decline for some 50 years while the population of ethnic minorities that prefer fresh lamb has been on the rise.  In particular, immigrants from Africa and southern Asia have traditions and beliefs about how lamb should be prepared and consumed that result in their need for fresh domestically-produced lamb, mutton, and chevon (goat meat).

Most of the sheep and goats in the Mid Atlantic region are held in small flocks of under 70 ewes.  These are part-time enterprises that fulfill lifestyle goals as well as providing supplemental income.  The historically high prices received for lambs has prompted many people to consider either expanding existing flocks or starting new flocks of sheep.

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SCRAPIE ERADICATION AND INFORMATION

In 2001 the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) initiated an accelerated program to eradicate scrapie from the nation’s sheep flocks and goat herds.  This program has reduced the prevalence of scrapie by over 85%, but, to find and eliminate the last few cases, the cooperation of sheep and goat producers everywhere is needed.

The National Scrapie Eradication Program (NSEP) coordinated by the USDA is a joint effort that includes participation by state governments and industry, particularly producers.

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FOOTVAX VACCINE INQUIRY

The Footvax vaccine was discontinued for sale in the United States and has not been available for several months. The American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) and the California Wool Growers Association (CWGA) have had several discussions with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and with the vaccine manufacturing company (Intervet/Schering-Plough/Merck) over the past year encouraging them to resume licensed sales.

There seems to be a glimmer of hope that an interim solution is in the works. Although it has not been officially approved or licensed for U.S. sale, USDA may grant the manufacturer the ability to import the product into the United States for limited distribution and research purposes under special permits.

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GROUPS COMPARE RECENT ACTIVIST ACTIVITY TO AGRO-TERRORISM ATTACKS

JEFFREY HOFFELT

Words turned into action Jan. 8 as an estimated 14 trucks and cattle-transporting trailers were intentionally set on fire at the largest feed yard in California. An animal rights extremist group quickly took credit for the arson attack in the San Joaquin Valley.

Though the cause of the fire was still under investigation at the time of publication, an anonymous statement released by spokeswoman Nicoal Sheen of the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) Press Office said the attack was aimed at “the horrors of factory farming.” Sheen later said that the office distributes releases from people involved in illegal actions but that the office was not directly involved in the attack.

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2012 LAMB BONANZA PROMOTES SHEEP INDUSTRY AT SOUTH DAKOTA STATE UNIVERSITY

KELLI FULKERSON

Nearly 800 people got a taste of lamb Jan. 14 when they attended the South Dakota State University (SDSU) men’s and women’s basketball games during the 20th annual Lamb Bonanza held at Frost Arena in Brookings, SD.

The Bonanza originally began in 1993 as a dedication event for the new sheep research facility built on the University’s campus.

“We knew there were other events on campus to showcase the beef and pork industry; it was time that the sheep industry showed-off what we have to offer,” said Jeff Held, SDSU professor and extension sheep specialist.

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EUROPE DISCOVERS NEW VIRUS

European food safety officials met to discuss the spread of a newly detected virus that is spreading through farms on the continent.

A European Commission committee confirmed an outbreak of the new “Schmallenberg” virus at the end of last year in cattle, sheep and goats on farms across Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium.

The virus is not thought to pose a danger to humans, although health officials at the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) warn the risk “cannot be completely excluded at this stage.”

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WOMEN SHEPHERDS REPRESENT U.S. IN WORLD CHALLENGE

AMY TRINIDAD

The U.S. representatives at the first World Young Shepherd Challenge are examples of the growing number of women now involved in agriculture. In November, Kelsey Gibbs and Lacie Hoffman went head-to-head with 19 men from 11 different countries vying for the honor to be called top shepherd.

The competition took place in New Zealand and included a pentathlon of activities to test shepherding skills. The competitors were judged on things like sorting sheep, handling and crutching techniques, shearing, building an electric fence and were quizzed on flock management and health issues.

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