Changing Paradigms in the Sheep Industry

Dale Thoreson, Field Specialist-Dairy/Beef/Forages; Pat Derdzinski, CEED-Butler County; Fred Hall, CEED-Chickasaw County; Dennis DeWitt, Field Specialist-Beef; Dan Morrical, Faculty, Animal Science

Problem Statement:

Several opportunities are available to improve profits and reduce risks in the sheep and lamb industry. These opportunities include using corn co-products, stronger lamb markets, a federally subsidized lamb marketing insurance program and expansion of facilities to increase the sheep farm enterprise. Some of these opportunities are completely new.  Produces are seeking information, especially on lamb insurance and feeding corn co-products.

Programmatic Response:

Butler and Chickasaw county CEEDs collaborated with the NE Iowa Livestock field Specialist to develop two an-the –farm programs for sheep producers and allied industries. Host farms were selected that were using several management practices that were on the program to develop a “Tell and Show” concept. Funding from the Iowa Sheep and Wool Promotion Board ($600) was acquired by the CEEDs to help offset program expenses. Sheep specialists, Dan Morrical and Dennis DeWitt (ISUE) delivered the bulk of the program with CEEDs and Field Specialist addressing specific topics (facilities).


Sixty-one individuals attended the session, both held with extremely unfriendly weather. A 6 weeks post meeting survey was sent to all participants. Nine practices were presented at the series. The survey showed that 18% of respondents have started, since the program, the practice of building a warming box for lambs that have hypothermia. Another 27% plan to build within 6 months. 18% of participants plan to shear ewes 6 weeks prior to lambing while 55% were already applying this practice. 10% of clients started replacing hay fed to ewes with 1 to 2 pounds of cornstalks, while another 20% plan to add this practice within 6 months. 18% plan to change the size of lambing pens within 6 months. 27% plant to change feed bunk space per ewe within 6 months. 27% plan to use a spreadsheet to calculate costs of production within 6 months of the program 18% already were using this practice.

The greatest increase in knowledge from the series was the use of a thermometer on new borne lambs to help identify lambs with hypothermia or fever. Following closely behind was “Improving lamb weaning rate. Moving from a 1.78 to a 3.13 (based on 1= none to 4= high level of knowledge). Flocks averaged 50 head of ewes selling 30 feeder lambs and 55 market lambs per flock annually.  Average experience amongst participant was 16 years.


183 Other Animal Systems and Processing

Page last updated: August 26, 2008
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