Sheep GEMS Update

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Sheep GEMS is roaring ahead, with the strong commitment by Katahdin breeders particularly welcomed. With the help of John Bare, Michelle Canfield, Tom Hodgman, and Jim Morgan—members of a Project Advisory Group—twenty-six Katahdin flocks have voiced their interest to participate in this project. A key element of Sheep GEMS is collecting performance records in NSIP-member flocks that reflect the productive efficiency, robustness, and climatic resilience of their sheep. These include udder health, lamb…

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How Does Selection for Parasite Resistance in Katahdin Sheep Affect Other Important Traits?

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Katahdin producers who use NSIP estimated breeding values (EBV) to make selection decisions on replacements for the home flock or for sale often select for more than one trait at a time. In fact, most breeders search for the perfect animal with balanced EBVs, or those that excel in all traits of interest. But what happens when two or more traits are used in selection? Can forward progress be made on both traits?…

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Shepherd to Shepherd: Producer Forum #2

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For our second producer forum we asked our four shepherds what data they collect besides that used for NSIP; how they manage their data; what software programs they use; and how they analyze and use their data to make selection decisions.  Michelle Canfield, Canfield Farms, Western Washington I use Ranch Manager for my day-to-day husbandry records. Mostly what I keep in here are records of medical treatments & other events; location of sheep…

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Scale Options for On-Farm Use

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A producer needs a way to weigh animals when they want to understand how well their lambs are growing, and when to take them to market. There are a variety of reasons to weigh animals, depending on what data you are collecting and what results you want to be able to achieve from it. Before we were involved in the National Sheep Improvement Program (NSIP), we just wanted to know weights between 30…

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Selecting for Maternal Traits Drives Profit

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Katahdins are raised in diverse environments using a wide range of management styles and for a variety of reasons. However, there should be a few common goals in any flock. In addition to being a shedding hair breed, Katahdins have always been viewed as an easy keeping maternal breed. In recent years, many breeders have also begun selecting for parasite resistance to make the breed even more easy keeping. We know that the…

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Selecting for Parasite Resistant Katahdins

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People frequently ask us for suggestions on improving the parasite resistance of their flocks and how to identify resistant animals, and with good reason. Intestinal worms, or parasites, are one of the most limiting factors to profitable production for shepherds raising sheep on pasture. Lambs and late gestation and lactating ewes are the most susceptible. The main parasite of concern in much of the U.S. is Haemonchus contortus or barber pole worm. The…

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Data collection is the cornerstone of obtaining Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) through the National Sheep Improvement Program (NSIP). But the need for good records and accurate data is not limited to producers submitting data to NSIP. All flocks can benefit from good data collection since selection and culling decisions should be based on measured production criteria. Those considering joining NSIP at some point, will find collecting accurate data from the start will be…


NSIP – What Is in It for Me?

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For most of us, raising sheep is a business. All successful businesses continually and objectively evaluate their products for performance, accuracy, and predictability. Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) as provided by the National Sheep Improvement Program (NSIP), allow shepherds to convert performance records for economically important traits into information about an animal's genetic merit while increasing accuracy and predictability for those traits. EBVs provide a science-based selection tool to improve or enhance preferred traits…

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