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Virginia Cooperative Extension -
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Sheep Update

Livestock Update, February 2006

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

Record Prices Established for Virginia Commercial Ewe Lamb Development Program Sale
The 6th Annual Virginia Commercial Ewe Lamb Development Program concluded with a sale held in conjunction with the Virginia-North Carolina Shepherds' Symposium at the Alphin-Stuart Livestock Arena on the campus of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, VA on January 7. A total of 83 bred commercial ewe lambs sold for an average price of $247 per head. The sale was paced by a lot of three Katahdin ewe lambs consigned by Moccasin Bend Katahdins of Nickelsville, VA which sold for $650 each to Spring Valley Farm of Abingdon, VA. Bred ewe lambs were sold in consignor groups of two to four head based on breed, service sire, and expected lambing date (ranging from early March to mid April). Prices ranged from $160 to $650 per head. The four service sire rams also sold, averaging $280.

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, crossbred ewe lambs were delivered to the Virginia Sheep Evaluation Station located at the Virginia Tech Shenandoah Valley Agriculture Research and Extension Center 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 Suffolk, Dorset, or Katahdin ram lambs, which were selected from the 2005 Virginia Performance Ram Lamb Test. In late December, pregnancy diagnosis was conducted via ultrasound. Of the 95 ewe lambs exposed, 83 were confirmed pregnant and qualified for the sale. Total costs for the program averaged $55 per ewe lamb (includes feed, vet/medical, breeding, sale, and all other expenses).

Rules and regulations, as well as consignment and entry information for the program in 2006 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.

Wolford Named Roy A. Meek Outstanding Sheep Producer
Jim Wolford of Wytheville was the recipient of the Roy A. Meek Outstanding Sheep Producer Award presented January 6, 2006 at the Virginia-North Carolina Shepherd's Symposium held in Blacksburg, VA. The award is presented annually by the Virginia Sheep Producers Association (VSPA) to recognize individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the sheep industry in Virginia.

Wolford got his start in the sheep business through a 4-H project. A graduate of George Wythe High School and Borea College, Wolford was active in FFA as a youth. His foundation flock consisted of Horned Dorsets acquired from A.T. Newberry. The flock has since evolved to registered Polled Dorsets, along with a few crossbred ewes.

For over 25 years, Wolford has been very active in various sheep organizations and their activities. He has provided leadership for activities and events such as the Ram Lamb Performance Test and Eastern Stud Ram Sale through involvement with the Virginia Purebred Sheep Breeders and now the Seedstock Council of VSPA. Jim's leadership led to the initiation of the Commercial Ewe Lamb Development Program, which recently completed its sixth year with record success. Wolford has served as Vice President of VSPA, and chaired numerous committees of the Seedstock Council. Additionally, Wolford currently serves as an adult advisor to the youth organization Virginia Junior Sheep Breeders.

A licensed auctioneer and real estate agent, Wolford operates a livestock transportation business which plays a vital role in marketing for many Virginia sheep producers.

Wolford is recognized within the industry for his enthusiasm, dedication, and numerous efforts on behalf of sheep producers in the region. He is a strong promoter of sheep, and a champion of strong youth involvement. VSPA is proud to honor Jim Wolford with the Outstanding Sheep Producer Award for the impact he has had toward the advancement of the sheep industry in the state of Virginia.

Cost Share Funding Available for Ram Genotyping
The cost-share ram genotyping program has been continued through September 15, 2006. Producers in all states will once again have the opportunity to participate in this testing program being administered by the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).

The program is designed to assist producers in having their rams genotyped for scrapie resistance and susceptibility (codon 171 genotyping). The cost share provides an opportunity to receive $14 per ram tested. Program requirements include sample collection in cooperation with a local veterinarian, and use of an approved laboratory. Producers may receive cost share for up to ten rams.

Details of the ASI/APHIS genotyping program, along with a list of the approved labs, can be found on the ASI web site at: (access Ram Genotyping link).

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