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Virginia Commercial Ewe Lamb Development Program

Livestock Update, July 2005

Dr. Scott P. Greiner Extension Animal Scientist, Sheep, VA Tech

Rules and regulations and consignment information for the 2005-06 Virginia Commercial Ewe Lamb Development Program are now available. The Virginia Commercial Ewe Lamb Development Program was initiated in 2000 with three primary objectives: 1) to provide commercial producers a source of quality replacement ewes, with documented genetics, management, and health status, 2) to provide an opportunity for producers to market commercial breeding stock, and 3) to serve as an educational tool in sheep production and management. The program is sponsored by the Virginia Sheep Producer's Association and is conducted at the Virginia Sheep Evaluation Station, located at the Virginia Tech Shenandoah Valley Agriculture Research and Extension Center near Steeles Tavern. Fall and spring-born commercial crossbred ewe lambs will be delivered to the station in early September. Ewe lambs will be developed on grass with supplemental grain mix provided to optimize growth and reproductive performance during the development program. Ewes will be co-mingled and allocated to breeding groups based on age, weight, and breed. Ewes will be mated to purebred rams, which have all been evaluated on the 2005 Virginia Performance Ram Lamb Test. Rams will be placed with the ewes 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. Pregnant ewes will be sold in early January in conjunction with the VA-NC Shepherd's Symposium. Ewes will be sold in consignor groups of 2-5 ewes based on projected lambing date and genetics. The following table contains a detailed historical summary of the program. Over the five years of the program, 403 bred ewe lambs have been sold for an average price of $174 per head. Total development and sale costs have averaged $52 per ewe (feed, yardage, breeding fees, vet/health, advertising, auctioneer, etc.). Of the 484 ewe lambs that have been developed, 416 (86.0%) have been confirmed pregnant (~50 day breeding season). The consignment deadline for this year's program is August 15. For further information, contact Scott Greiner at 540-231-9163

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