UW announces sheep program
Laramie – The University of Wyoming (UW) announced on May 25 the first ever Lamb-a-Year program will be offered this fall to UW students in support of Wyoming’s sheep industry and UW sheep program.
As a state, Wyoming ranks fourth in total sheep and lamb numbers, third in breeding sheep inventories and ranks first in total value of wool production in the U.S. Proceeds from this program will go directly towards driving innovation in the Wyoming sheep industry and training future sheep professionals in the UW sheep program.
Students will meet on Monday nights starting in the 2022 fall semester and will have a unique opportunity to engage in industry-based, hands-on curriculum relating to the commercial lamb industry. In addition, students will tour lamb feeding operations to learn more about nutrition, management considerations and economics of commercial lamb production.
“The program has two parts,” shares Associate Professor and Extension Sheep Specialist Whit Stewart. “It’s an outreach and funding mechanism for the sheep program but also provides industry-based education to our students.”
Ranchers throughout the state will have the opportunity to donate a minimum of five lambs or more to the program. Class participants will help gather performance and carcass data for partnered producers at the end of the semester. After feed costs are paid, proceeds will go towards sheep industry innovations, explains Stewart.
“It is very similar to what we are doing with the Wyoming wool initiative formerly known as the blanket project,” he explains. “These proceeds help UW fund targeted lamb and wool industry projects focused, marketing and manufacturing innovations and will help add value to Wyoming’s sheep industry all the while training students with field-based curriculum.
“The class will also hear from industry speakers as it ties to the commercial lamb feeding industry,” Stewart adds. “We’ll bring in a variety of industry experts that not only work in lamb feeding, but also lamb processing and other allied industries to discuss the ins and outs of the industry as well as touring operations.”
Stewart mentions the Lamb-a-Year program is an effort to get UW students involved in the industry not only as producers, but in allied industries such as pharmaceuticals, feed companies, industry organizations and leadership – anything tied to the sheep industry.
“When you look at the coursework at UW, especially as it ties to the sheep program, we’ve got an excellent wool evaluation/judging program introducing students to the wool side of the industry. Our advanced sheep production class (ANSC 4230) also provides hands-on learning to introduce students to all components of the sheep industry – but this program is a deeper dive into the industry with a real-world, producer, commercial industry angle,” he explains.
Interested producers will donate lambs to the program early fall where UW will gather, tag with electronic identification ear tags and then we’ll ship to a commercial feed yard in Colorado. Producers will receive a gift receipt which is tax deductible and all proceeds go directly to the sheep program.
“When these fundraising efforts are tied to industry teaching and networking for targeted industry outcomes, they are much more powerful than just standard fundraising events,” he says. “We have a great group of producers who’ve always supported us in various ways, but this provides a way to flexibly donate the number of lambs that works for them with the guarantee their contribution goes directly towards strengthening the sheep industry”.
This will strengthen our ability to expand our efforts in serving Wyoming’s sheep industry, he adds
“We’re so grateful for the producer partnership we enjoy in the sheep program, and their consideration to donate to this new program – we know how hard they work,” Stewart says. “We hope the Lamb-a-Year program will be a springboard to continue to do great things for the industry.”
A full launch of Lamb-A-Year and the Wyoming Wool Initiative will be highlighted at the Wyoming Wool Growers meeting July 13-14 in Wright. Interested producers and students are encouraged to contact Stewart by e-mail, email@example.com.
Brittany Gunn is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.