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Virginia Cooperative Extension -
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Sheep Update

Livestock Update, December 2004

Scott Greiner, Extension Animal Scientist, Sheep, VA Tech

Details of Ewe Lamb Payment Program Announced
The United States Department of Agriculture recently released details regarding the Ewe Lamb Replacement and Retention Payment Program. The program provides $18 million in direct payments for ewe lambs purchased or retained from August 1, 2003 to July 31, 2004. Sheep and lamb operations are eligible to receive $18 per head for qualifying ewe lambs purchased or retained as replacements during the period.

Program eligibility requirements are as follows:

For most Virginia producers, ewe lambs born and retained as replacements since the fall of 2002 will qualify (ie. replacements from last two lamb crops). Additionally, any replacement ewe lambs purchased between August 1, 2003 and July 31, 2004 should qualify provided they meet other program requirements. In some circumstances, producers may be eligible for payment on ewe lambs born after February 1, 2002 and retained as replacements, provided the producer did not received Ewe Lamb Program payment for these ewe lambs during the previous cycle of the program.

The program will be administered through the Farm Service Agency (FSA). Proper applications and forms may be obtained through local FSA offices, or see FSA's website at The sign-up period for Ewe Lamb Payment Program began October 25. No sign-up deadline has been established.

5th Annual Virginia Commercial Bred Ewe Lamb Sale January 8, 2005
The Virginia Commercial Ewe Lamb Development Program will be held Saturday, January 8, 2005 at the Alphin-Stuart Livestock Arena on the campus of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. The commercial ewe lamb program was initiated to provide a source of quality replacement ewes with documented health, management, and genetics for Virginia flocks. This unique program integrates genetics, nutrition, and reproduction for proper management of replacement ewe lambs. This educational, management, and marketing program is being conducted at the Virginia Sheep Evaluation Station, located at the Virginia Tech Shenandoah Valley Agriculture Research and Extension Center located near Steeles Tavern. A total of 81 commercial crossbred ewe lambs (various crosses of Dorset, Suffolk, Texel, and Finn breeding) were delivered to the station on September 14. Ewe lambs are being developed on grass with supplemental grain mix provided to optimize growth and reproductive performance during the development program. Ewes have been allocated to breeding groups based on age, weight, and breed. Ewes are being mated to purebred rams, which have all been evaluated through the 2004 Virginia Performance Ram Lamb Test. Three Suffolk and one Dorset ram are being utilized as service sires, with approximately the same number of ewes mated to each ram breed. Rams will be placed with the ewes from early October through mid-December. Breeding dates will be recorded on all ewes, and pregnancy status will be determined on all ewes in late December via ultrasound. Ewes will be sold in groups of 2-5 based on breed, service sire, and pregnancy status/due date. For more information, contact the Virginia Sheep Producers Association at 540-231-9163.

2004 Virginia Fall Bred Ewe Sale Results
The 2004 Virginia Sheep Producer's Association Fall Bred Ewe Sale was held Saturday, October 30 at the Rockingham County Fairgrounds in Harrisonburg. All yearling and mature ewes were confirmed pregnant via ultrasound prior to the sale. Ewe lambs were offered as exposed or open. A total of 44 ewes sold for an average price of $291. Sale results by breed and age were as follows:

  Ewe Lambs Yearling Ewes Mature Ewes All
Cheviot 1 $200     1 $200
Dorset 3 $177     3 $177
Hampshire 1 $250     1 $250
Southdown 2 $280     2 $280
Suffolk   1 $400   1 $400
Wether Dams

5 $246
21 $284

2 $410
5 $369

3 $327

7 $293
29 $303
All Breeds 33 $265 8 $383 17 $312 44 $291

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