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National Sheep Study: NAHMS to conduct sheep and lamb health and management research in 2024

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

The National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS), a non-regulatory unit of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), in collaboration with the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), will conduct its fourth national study of the U.S. sheep industry. 

The Sheep 2024 Study will take an in-depth look at U.S. sheep operations and provide the industry with new and valuable information regarding priority health and management issues facing the U.S. sheep industry.

The study, conducted approximately every 10 years, consists of two phases and includes biological sampling and two questionnaires.

2024 study launched

According to NAHMS, the first surveys have already hit mailboxes and were sent to a select group of 4,940 randomly chosen sheep producers. Data collection will take place from December 2023 through July 2024.

“The data collected during this comprehensive survey will be instrumental for informing policy using real and accurate data, identifying economic impacts of sheep diseases, updating Extension programs to target the issues sheep producers are facing and prioritizing research to tackle health and disease issues in the U.S. sheep industry,” NAHMS Study Lead Dr. Natalie Urie states in a NASS press release on Dec. 18, 2023.

She continues, “Our goal is to identify impacts of common diseases, management and biosecurity practices associated with those diseases, antimicrobial use and resistance patterns, management practices producers use to control internal parasites and more.”

According to the USDAʼs website, “Producers, industry stakeholders and policymakers will benefit from the benchmark data produced by this survey. Survey results will provide a greater understanding of sheep health status throughout the U.S. and provide valuable insight into management practices and disease preparedness and identify educational needs and opportunities related to sheep health.”

Research background

and activities

Health and management issues facing the sheep industry were identified from over 1,000 responses to an assessment survey and through communications with sheep producer associations, veterinarians and university and Extension experts. 

APHIS notes, “Approximately 4,900 sheep producers with one or more ewes from 30 of the nation’s major sheep-producing states will have the opportunity to participate in the study.”

Participating in the research study is voluntary, and if producers elect to participate, their answers will represent other producers in their state.

NASS confirms they will contact selected producers to complete the questionnaire, and if they are eligible to continue in the study, representatives from USDA’s Veterinary Services will schedule a visit between April and June 2024 to administer a second questionnaire, perform a free lameness evaluation and collect interdigital swabs and blood and fecal samples.

All results will be returned to producers.


and opportunities

The NAHMS Sheep 2024 Study will describe occurrences of common diseases of sheep, as well as management and biosecurity practices associated with the diseases.

Researchers hope to describe antimicrobial stewardship on sheep operations; estimate the prevalence of enteric microbes and antimicrobial resistance patterns and report management practices producers use to control internal parasites and reduce resistance to dewormers.

APHIS hopes to also identify changes in animal health, nutrition and management practices in the U.S. sheep industry from 1996 to 2024.

Producers who fully participate in the study will have the option to complete biological sampling of their sheep. 

NAHMS further states fecal samples will be tested for gastrointestinal parasites and enteric microbes, including salmonella, E. coli and campylobacter, and interdigital swabs will be tested for foot rot pathogens. 

Interested producers can participate in any or all of the sampling opportunities and will receive their test results. Results are confidential.

Because NAHMS relies on voluntary participation, the privacy of every participant is protected, no name or contact information will be associated with individual data, and no data will be reported in a way that could reveal the identity of a participant. 

Benefits of the study

The Sheep 2024 Study will inform producers and the sheep industry with benchmark data on important sheep health management practices and the health of sheep in the U.S., and it will also improve the understanding of disease preparedness on sheep operations.

The information gathered is important for policymakers and industry stakeholders.

Melissa Anderson is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

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