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Sheep

“The Wyoming Wool Growers Auxiliary put together a Sheep Breeder’s Directory some time ago,” comments Auxiliary member Kim Bell. “It has been decades since it was updated. Creating an updated directory has been on our agenda for a while and recently, Kelly Barlow, Charlene Von Krosigk and I were charged with compiling the information.”

Bell notes that the directory will include contact information and breed details for each operation listed.

“We are trying to get as much information as possible as soon as possible,” Bell says. 

Bell hopes to have the information gathered and complete by their next bi-annual meeting in December. 

“We would like to have the directory available as soon as we can,” she adds.

In producing the Wyoming Sheep Breeder’s Directory, Bell notes that the Wool Growers Auxiliary has thrown around several ideas for production.

“We talked about making a book, but we’d have to involve advertisers and have the funding to produce a book,” she explains. “Printing a book isn’t feasible right now, so we are looking at making it available online.”

If producers would like a hard copy of the directory, Bell says one will be available to be printed on an as-needed basis for a small fee.

While final decisions haven’t been made yet, the directory will likely be attached to the Wyoming Wool Growers Association website, wyowool.com

“Our goal is to develop a directory that involves every operation in Wyoming,” says Bell.

Bell notes the document will have positive implications for Wyoming’s sheep industry and for individual breeders.

“This is a free advertising opportunity for sheep breeders,” she says. “People in other states will be able to see the directory, and it will also be a place that people looking for new breeding stock or lambs can search.”

Additionally, Bell says the directory will help to pull Wyoming’s sheep industry together. 

“I like to think of Wyoming as a very traditional place with tight-knit people,” she comments. “The state, however, is very spread out, and I think it is important to have a place where breeders can see who else is out there.”

“The directory will help to consolidate the sheep industry and help keep it tight-knit and close,” Bell continues. 

Sheep producers are encouraged to contact Bell or Kelly Barlow to submit their information. Producers should include a contact name, ranch name, address, phone number, e-mail address if one is available and the breed of sheep raised. 

Bell can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 111 Napier Road, Gillette, WY 82718. Information can also be send to Kelly Barlow by calling 307-682-9639.

Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Rapid City, S.D. – Sheep producers can enjoy a full day of activities and events during Sheep Day at the Black Hills Stock Show (BHSS). This first annual event will be held on Feb. 6 in the James Kjerstad Events Center at the Central States Fairgrounds in Rapid City, S.D.

During the daylong event, the National Sheep Shearing Contest, North American Sheep Dog Trials, the National Wool Handling Championships and youth mutton bustin’ will be held. 

Shearing championships

The National Sheep Shearing Championships will begin at 9 a.m. on Feb. 6. Contestants in the professional division will be competing for more than just prize money and awards. The top finishers will also earn an opportunity to compete in the World Sheep Shearing Championships. 

The shearing contest will consist of contestants competing in the beginning, intermediate or professional divisions, depending upon their level of experience. The contestants will meet prior to the start of the contest to determine which category they should compete in. 

During the event, each contestant will use electronic shearing equipment to shear eight head in the preliminary round. Judges will watch the shearers and score them not only for speed but also for condition of the fleece, the number of nicks, second cuts in the wool, appearance of the sheep and handling. 

In the back, the judge turns the sheep over and counts every nick.

The top finishers will move up to compete in the championship round. 

Winners of the event will receive prize money and other awards. The top two finishers in the professional division will earn the honor of representing the United States in the World Sheep Shearing Championships.

Wool Handling 

Also starting at 9 a.m. will be the National Wool Handling Contest. According to Leann Brimmer, who is helping organize this year’s Sheep Day events, wool handlers work with the shearer to prepare the fleece by separating off undesirable pieces of wool that deduct value from the main fleece. 

During the event, wool handlers will prepare three fleeces in the preliminary rounds and five fleeces during the final round. They will be judged on the time it takes them to prepare the fleece and cleanup at the end, in addition to the quality of the job they have done preparing the fleece. 

Prize money and awards will be given to the top competitors, Brimmer said.  

Entries are still being accepted for the sheep shearing and wool handling contests. 

Brimmer can be reached at 406-853-4867 for more information or to enter the sheep shearing or wool handling events. 

Dog trials

It takes patience, knowledge, skill and a smart dog to successfully move a group of sheep through a predetermined course. Some of the best sheep dog trainers in the region will compete with their dogs during the North American Sheep Dog Trials. 

The preliminary round of the sheep dog trials will begin at 1 p.m. in the arena. The championship round will be held at 7:30 p.m., with mutton bustin’ kicking off the event.

At least 55 dogs are expected to compete in this year’s trial for $5,000 in prize money and awards, which will be split among the winners. The dogs compete in a pre-determined course in the preliminary round, and 16 dogs will be picked based on their time to compete in the semi-finals. The 10 dogs with the fastest time will move into the final round of competition. 

The sheep dog trial is a timed event where the handler and his dog direct a group of sheep through a patterned course. The handler can only use whistle or voice commands to control the dog. The idea of the trial is to move the sheep through the course, concluding when the sheep pass through a gate and are herded into a pen. The team that completes the event in the shortest amount of time is the winner. 

“It is truly a fascinating event to watch,” said BHSS General Manager Ron Jeffries. “It is amazing how well these dogs understand what their handlers are telling them to do through whistle and voice commands.”

Gayle Smith is a correspondent for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


SIDEBAR:
Inaugural year

During the daylong event, the National Sheep Shearing contest, North American Sheep Dog Trials, the National Wool Handling Championships and youth mutton bustin’ will be held. Tickets for the event will cover all the day’s activities. 

Tickets are $12 for adults, $5 for children between seven and 12, and free for children six and under.

There will also be various vendor displays from sheep production and equipment to lamb recipes and food. The South Dakota Sheep Growers Association and South Dakota State University (SDSU) will be on hand with information and to answer questions. 

According to Black Hills Stock Show General Manager Ron Jeffries, wool spinners will also be giving demonstrations on spinning wool. 

Jeffries indicated any sheep-related individuals, groups, businesses and associations are welcome to set up a table at no cost to display their products and promotions of the sheep industry during Sheep Day. 

Dave Ollila, SDSU sheep field specialist, can be reached at 605-394-1722 for more information or to sign up to participate in the demonstrations or as a vendor.

 

Breeding ewe lambs at eight months of age may potentially increase the ewe lamb’s lifetime production, operation production, reduce generation interval and be useful for selecting for fertility, said Paul Kenyon, head of the Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences at Massey University in New Zealand.

Kenyon gave a presentation for the American Sheep Institute’s Let’s Grow initiative on improving reproductive performance of ewe lambs bred at eight months.

He noted that, while breeding ewe lambs can prove to be beneficial for producers, it should be a decision made on a yearly and individual basis.

“Ewe lamb breeding should be a year-by-year decision. It needs to be a flexible policy and should be dependent on ewe lamb live weight and predicted feeding levels,” said Kenyon.

Ewe factors

Different breeds and breed crosses have differing fertility, with different lines within breeds expressing greater fertility compared to breed averages, said Kenyon.

“Within breeds, there are lines that are very suitable for ewe lamb breeding,” he explained.

When selecting which ewe lambs to breed, it is important that they are at least 60 percent of the mature weight for their breed.

“When we look at mature weight, we want to be around 60 percent of the mature weight to get 80 percent pregnancy rate,” continued Kenyon.

He noted that many farmers do not breed all of their ewe lambs but selectively breed the lambs that have reached the target weight.

Producers can also evaluate body condition score to evaluate whether a ewe lamb is ready to be bred, with performance dropping off dramatically below a score of 2.5.

Reaching puberty

“When we think about the physiology behind puberty, in all mammals, puberty is triggered when the brain believes that the animal is physiologically mature enough to cope with pregnancy and lactation,” said Kenyon. “One of the triggers that the brain uses is the amount of adipose tissue, or fat.”

As body condition score is a subjective measure of body fat, it can be an accurate tool to determine if ewe lambs have reached their target weight.

“I would argue that that’s a better indicator than live weight,” explained Kenyon.

According to Kenyon, the most important thing to do is to monitor the weight of ewe lambs from weaning to breeding to determine whether they are on track to meet live weight goals.

“The earlier we know we have a problem by monitoring, the more likely we are to successfully fix that problem,” stressed Kenyon. “It’s no good being a month out and figuring that ewes are four or five kilos behind where they should be because it’s going to be too difficult to get them there.”

Nutrition

“Many farmers are excited because they can get their ewe lambs to 40 or 40-plus kilos at breeding. They think they’ve won the game when really, the match has just started,” said Kenyon. “All we’ve done is allow that ewe lamb to get to the start line.”

To be successful, Keynon advised that producers feed pregnant ewe lambs throughout their pregnancy. Traditionally, mature ewes are held at a maintenance diet for the first two thirds of pregnancy.

“We can do this because they’ve reached their mature weight. We can’t do that with a young female because she needs to grow in those first 110 days,” continued Kenyon.

The fetus will use the majority of the nutrients that the ewe lamb ingests in the last third of gestation regardless of whether her nutritional needs for growth are met.

“If we haven’t grown her in that earlier two-thirds, what we’re doing there is setting her up for a large fetus – because it’s going to happen anyway – but she hasn’t grown, and she’s going to have those birthing difficulties,” said Kenyon.

The lighter the ewe lamb is three weeks prior to lambing, the greater chance she will not successfully rear her lamb.

“If we’re going to go to the effort of getting her pregnant and feeding her extra so she gets to that target weight for breeding, we want a lamb to be successfully there at weaning,” he stressed.

Many producers wean lambs off of ewe lambs slightly earlier to give her more time to recover before being rebred.

“Lactation itself is an energy drawer, and it’s harder for the ewe to gain weight during that time. We can also go into feeding her lambs that are lighter using a high quality feed,” said Kenyon.

He summarized the goals of a nutritional program by stating, “It’s about making sure we’ve determined what that target live weight is at breeding for our various breeds, monitoring her so she achieves that and then ensuring that she continues to grow throughout pregnancy.”

Emilee Gibb is editor of Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Riverton – In a unique deal, Dean and Charleen Von Krosigk have sold their premier Targhee ewes to the Wyoming Wool Growers Association (WWGA).
    The Von Krosigk Targhees now call the Laramie Research and Extension Center’s (LREC) Animal Science Livestock facility home.
    “The main focus of the agreement is to continue with the genetic program that the Von Krosigks have had for more than 30 years,” says WWGA Executive Vice President Bryce Reece, noting that the arrangement provides a rare opportunity.    
The Von Krosigk Targhees
    “The Von Krosigks are the number one premier Targhee breeder in the country,” says Reece.
    At the 2011 National Targhee Show and Sale, the Von Krosigk family received the honors of the grand champion ram and grand champion ewe, as well as grand champion pen of yearling ewes.
    Charleen says, “We’ve had a lot of national champions over the years.”
    After her children started the flock in 1976 as a 4-H project, Charleen says, “We just happened to have really good luck in the sheep we bought, and we had God as a guide. There is no other reason why our sheep turned out better than others, except that we have a love for Targhees.”
    Both Charleen and Dean are retired, and, since their children don’t have the facilities to house the sheep, they began looking for options to get out of the sheep business last spring.
    “We wanted the sheep to stay somewhere where they would be available to people,” explained Charleen. “We mentioned to Bryce that we were thinking of selling, and he got the WWGA board together. They surprised us and said they wanted to buy our flock.”
A unique agreement
    “We started talking in late spring, but the deal finally came together this fall,” says Reece. “We bought 50 head of ewes, with one stud ram.”
    Reece explains that the ram will be kept by the Von Krosigk family, but says, “We got the heart and soul of their operation.”
     “It’s a unique opportunity,” he adds.  “I can safely say there is no other sheep association that owns its own flock of sheep, so we are breaking new ground.”
    The partnership is also unique for UW.
    Reece continues, “There is a whole lot of trust.”
    “We all have the same goals in mind for the flock,” says LREC director Doug Zalesky. “We hope to continue to propagate the genetics of the flock, and to provide those genetics to the industry.”
    In the agreement reached late last fall, the Von Krosigks, WWGA and UW decided the ewes would stay together, stay in Wyoming and their genetics would be continually offered to the sheep industry through ram sales.
    WWGA owns the sheep, while UW provides housing and the day-to-day management of the herd and the proceeds are split between the two groups. Reece also mentions that an advisory group has been assembled that will meet once a year to discuss management.
    “The Von Krosigks will sit on that group for as long as they want to, and we will continue to take their advice,” says Reece. “They will be a valuable component of this thing moving forward.”
    “We still intend to be involved,” adds Charleen. “We will be on the advisory board to help the university make decisions, and they can call us if they have problems. We also still plan on helping to market the sheep.”
Research opportunities
    The flock will serve as a wealth of information that could lead to an increased understanding of the Targhee breed.
    “Part of the agreement is that the WWGA has access to any and all the data on these sheep,” says Reece. “There will be more data collected on this bunch of ewes than probably any in the history of ewes.”
     “Being at a research facility, it will allow us to do exciting things in terms of developing new information and new technology, but they are not research subjects,” clarified Reece. “Their purpose is to do what they’ve been doing, but if we can gather information to benefit the industry, we will.”
    Larson notes they will likely be used as part of feed efficiency trials utilizing UW’s unique GrowSafe system, in the ram sire tests and in wool studies.
    “It gives us an opportunity to evaluate the breed as they continue to become more popular in the industry for some of their strong traits and characteristics,” adds Zalesky. “We look forward to feed efficiency trials with them.”
    He continues, “To be able to look at feed efficiency on a fairly uniform group of sheep like this will be a real advantage from a research standpoint. I think they will provide UW with a really nice resource.”
    “We will also have wool data on every ewe, and that’s something that hasn’t been done on any of the purebred flocks,” explains Reece.
    Reece also says he’s contacted the Wyoming Livestock Board to inquire about electronic implant animal identification programs, for which the Targhees could sever as a pilot herd.
    “We have offered up the flock to become a pilot project in terms of animal ID implant record keeping,” says Reece. “I’m a big believer in animal ID, and I’ve asked the Wyoming Livestock Board to see where we are at in terms of using implants in livestock.”
Genetics, genetics, genetics
    While the sheep will be available for more than showing and breeding purposes, maintaining the genetic superiority of the flock is paramount to all parties.
    To maintain the integrity of the line, Reece says they will continue to utilize the Von Krosigks’ current stud ram along with two other rams.
    “They do a lot of line breeding and we think it’s time to infuse some outside genetics into the herd,” says Reece of the Von Krosigk breeding program. “Brent and I went to the Montana Ram Sale and bought interest in two rams.”
    “Those two young rams are tremendous rams, and we are pretty excited to see what will come,” Reece adds, noting that this year most of the ewes will be bred by the Von Krosigk ram. “The majority of the ewes were bred to the stud ram. We split the remaining half between the two new rams.”
A new home
    The Von Krosigk herd remained at their home ranch for as long as possible, until it was necessary to remove them from pasture. From there, they were moved to UW.
    Ultimately, Reece says the prize flock is in good hands, adding, “They will be taken care of very well.”
    Reece adds that the university is extremely capable of taking care of the sheep, saying, “We have unwavering trust in Brent, and they are in great hands. If he ever leaves UW, we will decide whether or not to keep the ewes there.”
    At the end of the day, Zalesky says, “The biggest thing is that we want to be able to help the industry keep those genetics available and continue to propagate them. We wanted to keep the flock together and in the state of Wyoming.”
    Reece adds, “It’s a pretty exciting deal.”
    Saige Albert is editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

UW facility provides student opportunities    The University of Wyoming’s Animal Livestock Center, constructed in 1990, is a vast facility that offers students the opportunities to obtain hands-on experience related to livestock.
    The facility consists of 12 buildings, including a temperature modified lambing barn, beef and sheep sheds, a wool laboratory and classroom, a sheep handling building, a sheep confinement building, a multipurpose building, a swine confinement unit and a feed mill.
    Because of the high traffic through the facility, primarily from students at UW and 4-H and FFA members who are judging, Brent Larson, livestock manager at the Sheep Unit, says, “We do things a lot differently than the normal operations would. It is labor intensive.”
    Four to five classes utilize the sheep facility in particular, including Introductory Animal Science, Sheep Production, Livestock Evaluation and several reproductive classes.
    “We have between 400 and 450 mature sheep here,” adds Larson, noting that the five registered breeds housed in the facility include Columbia, Hampshire, Rambouillet, Suffolk and now Targhee.
    “There are good uses for all of them,” says Larson. “Most all of the sheep in the registered breeds go on the ram sire test in the fall, and the Columbia are coming up on their 100th anniversary of being here.”
    Ultimately the sheep facility provides a number of animals for a hands-on learning experience for students and for a myriad of research projects by both graduate students and faculty at UW.
    To learn more about research at the Laramie Research and Extension Center, visit uwyo.edu/uwexpstn/centers/Laramie. 

Simple Beginnings
Riverton – Charleen Von Krosigk says her family’s Targhee herd started as her son’s 4-H project in 1976.
    “We were looking at getting Columbias,” explains Charleen. “Then Barney Cosner, our extension agent here in Fremont County, told the boys about a breed that he thought would be better and take us farther, so we went with Targhees.”
    The Von Krosigks purchased their first ewes from Bob Innis of Gillette after attending their first Targhee show and sale there. They also bought two market ewes and two bred ewes from Jon Beastrom of Pierre, S.D.
    “Inside one of the bred ewes was our first good ram,” says Dean.
    “We called him Big Max, and he stamped the breed,” adds Charleen. “The kids showed him for 10 years.”
    The Von Krosigk brothers, Wendell, Sam and Clint, raised sheep for a number of years. Later, Charleen and Dean’s grandchildren helped them to raise and show the sheep at the National Targhee Show, earning showmanship honors of their own.
    “We’ve bred and raised range rams that happened to be national champions,” says Dean.
    Since the herd first started, the Von Krosigks have only missed the national show twice, and only when they decided to get out of the business once before. Dean notes that they have kept 15 ewes and are planning to sell part of those throughout the year.
    Prior to selling their Targhees to the Wyoming Wool Growers Association, Beastrom purchased a number of ewes from the Von Krosigk family’s 2011 herd, including the national champion ram, national champion ewe and national champion pair of ewes.





Buffalo — Twenty-five years ago when sheep shearers were coming to her husband’s family ranch, Rita Long says the shearers wanted Heiniger combs and cutters, but couldn’t find them in the United States.
    That led to the launching of a company to meet the demand for this top-of -the-line Swiss shearing equipment in the United States. Over 25 years later Heiniger Shearing Equipment, Inc. is still going strong with distributors across the nation. The company’s headquarters are in Buffalo where Long’s family remains in the ranching industry.
    Heiniger Shearing Equipment is a family corporation, says Long, who is the president. “While our largest customers are involved with the sheep industry,” she says, “our equipment is also used to shear goats, llamas alpacas, cattle, dogs and horses. We even supply zoos equipment to shear camels and whatever other animals that need sheared. There are also some brush manufacturers, leather companies and rug makers that use Heiniger equipment.”
    “We sell primarily through mail order to dealers and distributors,” she says. In Wyoming, however, most people purchase these products at MTR Ranch Supply in Buffalo.
    “We carry combs, cutters, electric shearing machines and clippers as well as the professional shearing plants with flexible or rigid drops and mechanical handpieces,” says Long. “Electric grinders, sharpening equipment, shearing moccasins, singlets and many other specialty items are also available. Most professional sheep shearers use our products.”
    While sheep numbers have declined, Long says the company has seen less demand in the sheep shearing sector, but other markets have expanded. For example, she’s expecting a shipment of new Heiniger cordless clippers for dogs, horses, crias (baby alpacas) and show cattle. She feels this new clipper will be the best on the market thanks to innovative Swiss technology. It comes with two rechargeable batteries — one to charge, while the other is being used for continuous clipping.
    Heiniger products are distributed throughout more that 50 countries worldwide and are known for their excellence in quality and performance. Long says, selling Heiniger shearing equipment in the United States has been a wonderful business for her family.
    Rita Long of Heiniger Shearing Equipment, Inc. can be reached at 800-215-7701. Jennifer Womack is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..