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Sheep Update

Livestock Update, February 2004

Scott Greiner, Extension Animal Scientist, Sheep, VA Tech

Virginia Commercial Ewe Lamb Development Program Results 2003-04
The 4th Annual Virginia Commercial Ewe Lamb Development Program concluded with a sale held in conjunction with the Virginia-North Carolina Shepherds' Symposium at the Rockingham County Fairgrounds in Harrisonburg, VA on January 10, 2004. The goal of the commercial ewe lamb development and marketing program is to provide a source of quality bred replacement ewe lambs with documented health, management, and genetics for Virginia commercial flocks. In early September when crossbred ewe lambs were delivered to the Virginia Sheep Evaluation Station located at the Virginia Tech Shenandoah Valley Agriculture Research and Extension Center located near Steeles Tavern. Ewe lambs were developed on forage with supplemental grain mix provided to optimize growth and reproductive performance during the development program and breeding season. The ewes were mated to either Suffolk or Dorset ram lambs, which were selected from the 2003 Virginia Performance Ram Lamb Test. After a 45-day breeding season, pregnancy diagnosis was conducted via ultrasound. Of the 78 ewe lambs exposed, 64 were confirmed pregnant. These bred ewe lambs were sold in consignor groups of two to five head based on breed, service sire, and expected lambing date (ranging from early March to mid April). Sale results for the bred ewe lambs and the performance tested rams used as service sires were as follows:

  Sale Average ($/head)
63 Bred Commercial Ewe Lambs $185
2 Performance Tested Rams $430

Ewe prices ranged from $115 to $260 per head. Rules and regulations, as well as consignment and entry information for the program in 2004-05 will be available late spring. The program is sponsored by the Virginia Sheep Producers Association. For more information, contact Scott Greiner at (540) 231-9159.

Martha Polkey Receives Roy A. Meek Outstanding Sheep Producer Award
Martha Polkey of Leesburg, Virginia was named the recipient of the Roy A. Meek Outstanding Sheep Producer Award presented January 9, 2004 at the Virginia-North Carolina Shepherd's Symposium held in Harrisonburg, Virginia. This award is presented annually by the Virginia Sheep Producers Association (VSPA) to recognize an individual that has made outstanding contributions to the sheep industry in Virginia.

Ms. Polkey has provided exemplary leadership and service at both the state and local levels through her contributions to the Loudoun Valley Sheep Producers and Virginia Sheep Producers Association. Polkey is past president of the Loudoun Valley Sheep Producers, and currently serves as secretary to the organization. She initiated both a membership directory and newsletter for the Loudoun Valley Sheep Producers. The newsletter, which she edits, provides industry information to producers. Polkey has also been actively involved in promotion and marketing activities of the Loudoun association, including their lamb sausage sales program.

Most recently, Polkey initiated The Virginia Shepherd, a membership newsletter for the Virginia Sheep Producers Association. As editor, she works with fellow producers, industry, and university personnel to assemble timely and pertinent sheep information that is provided to association members on a regular basis. Additionally, she serves on the VSPA board of directors.

Martha is an accomplished writer, which benefits the industry through her contributions to the publications she works with. She is an active promoter of lamb and wool, along with the sheep industry and agriculture.

Together with her husband Steven, son Andrew and daughter Rachael, Polkey owns and operates Black Sheep Farm. The flock consists of white and natural color Merinos and crossbreds. For the quality of the wool produced by her flock, she has won fleece awards at the Virginia State Fair, Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, and New York Sheep and Wool Festival. Polkey has also been active in youth programs through her children's 4H sheep projects.

VSPA is proud to honor Martha Polkey with the Outstanding Sheep Producer Award for her contributions and leadership to the sheep industry in the state of Virginia.

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