OUR LAMB STORY: MAKING THE CONNECTION FROM PASTURE TO PLATE

There’s a story behind every bite of American lamb you take. Before it ever makes it to your table, American lamb is raised by dedicated producers with a shared connection to the land, the animals, and the local communities they serve across America. But who exactly are the folks raising and cooking your food today? They’re both urban and rural, they are both men and women, and they hold advanced degrees. They range from first-to-fourth-generation farmers and they’re passionate stewards of the environment. They’re family-focused, entrepreneurial and adventurous. And most notably, they are food artisans who care deeply about the origin and nature of their products-real people with real passion for what they do and the final product they deliver. When it comes to the ingredients that are bound for your table, you can rest assured that the individuals raising and preparing American lamb are invested in the entire process, from start to finish.

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NIMAN RANCH: COMMITMENT TO QUALITY

AMY TRINIDAD

Niman Ranch may be most well-known for its pork products; however, it was in the 1990s that Niman Ranch started offering lamb to complement their beef line due in part to the dedicated work of Al Medvitz and Jeannie McCormack of California. Today, fewer than a dozen sheep ranching families from a variety of regions produce the lamb the company sells nationwide. Read on to see their secret to success.

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STUDY: TERMINAL SHEEP BREEDS FOR USE IN WESTERN RANGE OPERATIONS

DAVID NOTTER, GREG LEWIS, MICHELLE MOUSEL, TIM LEEDS, HENRY ZERBY, STEVE MOELLER, DAVID KIRSCHTEN, AND BRET TAYLOR

 Mating systems involving crossing of terminal sire sheep breeds with superiority for production characteristics such as growth rate and feed efficiency with well-adapted maternal breeds provide opportunity to increase lamb carcass value while maintaining acceptable environmental adaptation in the crossbred lambs.  Large, lean terminal-sire breeds such as the Suffolk and Columbia have been most typically used in extensive rangeland conditions found in much of the western United States.  Intense selection in these breeds for adult body weight and frame size led to correlated increases in growth rate but also concerns regarding fitness and survival rates to weaning in resulting crossbred lambs, and other less-extreme terminal-sire types of most moderate size have been increasingly promoted as alternatives.

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COMMON DISEASES AND HEALTH PROBLEMS IN SHEEP AND GOATS

LYNN PEZZANITE, MICHAEL NEARY, TERRY HUTCHENS, PATTY SCHARKO 

A sound management program to keep animals healthy is basic to production of both sheep and goats. Producers must observe animals closely to keep individual animals and the whole herd or flock healthy and productive. If the heath status of a herd is compromised, that operation will not be as efficient as

possible.There are some human health risks when dealing with diseased animals. While most diseases affecting sheep and goats do not pose any human health risks, some are zoonotic and it is important to protect not only caretakers, but anyone else that may come in contact with diseased animals.

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EFFICIENT HANDLING OF MEAT GOATS

SUSAN SCHOENIAN

Goats need to be handled for deworming, vaccinating, hoof trimming, sorting operations, and other occasional tasks. A well-constructed handling system or set or working pens will go a long way in minimizing the stress to both the producer and animals when these various tasks are performed. Reduced stress will improve productivity. In addition, when adequate facilities are lacking, many management tasks get delayed or overlooked. For small producers, a pen where goats can be gathered in close confinement is usually sufficient, whereas larger herds require a more sophisticated system of working facilities.

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