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Sheep

Douglas – On Sept. 15, sheep producers from around the state gathered for the Wyoming Wool Growers Association 87th Annual Wyoming State Ram Sale. 

During the sale, 282 rams sold at top prices, and Wyoming’s sheep producers saw continued benefits. The sale average was $1,004, and rams from a variety of breeds sold.

   The top selling ram at this year’s sale was also the top selling Rambouillet, owned by Ian McGivney of Forbes and Rabel Rambouillets. The ram was purchased by Hageman Sisters for $2,600.

Reported By: Laurie Boner
Sept. 15, 2015
Wyoming State Fairgrounds, Douglas
282 Head Sold
Sale Avg. $1,004
Certified Rambouillets Avg. $1,650
Rambouillets Avg. $1,168
Targhee on Test Meeting Certified Ram Criteria Avg. $1,800
Targhees Avg. $676
Columbias Avg. $660
Rambouillet/Columbia Lambs Avg. $500
Prime Samms Yearlings Avg. $1,150
Prime Samms Lambs Avg. $450
Blackface Ram Sire Test Rams Avg. $1,000
Suffolk Yearlings Avg. $938
Suffolk Lambs Avg. $659
Hampshire Yearlings Avg. $500
Hampshire Lambs Avg. $575
Suffolk/Hampshire Lambs Avg. $885

 

Top sellers

Top Selling Certified Rambouillet – Lot 4, consigned by Forbes and Rabel
Rambouillets, purchased by Lee Isenberger for $2,250 
Top Selling Ram and Top Selling Rambouillet – Lot 9, consigned by Ian McGivney of Forbes and Rambouillets, purchased by the Hageman Sisters for $2,600
Top Selling Targhee on Test that met the Certified Ram Criteria – Lot 56, consigned by Ryan Boner, purchased by Monte Reed for $1,800
Top Selling Columbia – Lot 77A, consigned by Russell and Kathy Bell, purchased by Isenberger-Litton Livestock 
Top Selling Blackface Ram Sire Test Ram – Lot 90, consigned by Laramie Research Extension Center, purchased by JD Atkinson for $2,000
Top Selling Suffolk Yearling – Lot 115, consigned by Surprise Sheep Company, purchased by Jw and Thea Nuckols for $2,200 
Top Selling Suffolk Lambs – Lot 128, consigned by Dona Livestock, purchased by Pierre Carricuburu for $1,000 and Lot 86, consigned by Kitzen Sheep, purchased by Raymon Turk for $1,000 
Top Selling Hampshire Yearling – Lot 135, 136A and 136B, consigned by Nine Mile Sheep Co., purchased by Kevin Forgey for $500 
Top Selling Hampshire Lambs – Lot 137, consigned by Nine Mile Sheep Co., purchased by Kevin Forgey for $575
Top Selling Suffolk/Hampshire Lambs – Lot 142, consigned by Leslie Maneotis, purchased by Mountain Valley Livestock for $1,700 

Casper – Seamstresses from around the state gathered to compete in the Wyoming Make It With Wool (MIWW) competition that was held on Dec. 4-5. State contestants presented a fashion show at the opening luncheon of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association Winter Roundup.

“MIWW is an annual youth-centered sewing competition to promote the beauty and versatility of wool fabrics, yarns and fibers,” says the National MIWW website.

Contest

Contestants in the MIWW competition must construct, knit or crochet their own outfits out of fabric or yarn that is at least 60 percent wool. They then model their outfits for the audience.

Entries are judged on multiple factors including quality of construction, creativity and suitability of style and fit for the contestant.

Participants first compete in district competitions held throughout Wyoming during October and November.

Over 60 contestants participated in the district contests this year. Wyoming has the largest number of contestants in the United States due to the district contests that are held.

All contestants at the state contest received 2.5-yard lengths of Pendleton wool fabric, donated by the Wyoming Wool Growers Auxiliary.

In addition to the contest, state competitors also participated in an educational workshop on the sheep and wool industry during the event that was taught by Wyoming MIWW Coordinator Lynda Johnson.

Lynda noted that the event was, “a very enjoyable time. We not only go through the contest, but we have a workshop, we also tie a quilt together and have some good activity time together.”

Junior contest

Five young ladies aged 13-16 participated in the Junior Division of the MIWW competition.

First place in the Junior Division went to Ashlynn Johnson of Encampment, who modeled a four-piece ensemble including a teal, green and brown bouclé wool coat, teal asymmetrical-style jacket, ivory shell top and tailored brown slacks.

Ashlynn also received the Outstanding Construction award for the Junior Division and the People’s Choice award for the entire contest.

Grace Belize Anderson of Devils Tower earned second place in the Junior Division with her pink dress and pink and purple plaid jacket.

Adult division

The Adult Division boasted eight contestants at the state competition.

First place in the Adult Division went to Estella Munroe of Encampment. Munroe modeled a brown and black cashmere coat and a tailored brown wool and silk dress. She also received the Outstanding Construction award for the Adult Division.

Second place in the Adult Division was awarded to Cheyenne resident Cindy Todd, who modeled an ivory Chanel-style jacket and a gored skirt she designed to compliment the jacket.

Michelle Elser of Casper received the Creativity Award for her hand-crocheted dress with an owl design that revealed a cream colored underdress.

New this year, a “Judge's Award” was given to Patty Swanson of Lingle, who has been a contestant in the wool contest for over 30 years. In her bio, the MIWW contest veteran commented that she wasn’t sure if she should continue to compete in the MIWW contest due to her age, to which fashion show emcee Lynda Johnson and the audience enthusiastically said, “Yes.”

Other contests

Other divisions that were available at the district level but did not have representation at the state contest include the Pre-Teen Division, Senior Division, Made for Others and Wearable Accessories.

In addition to the main contest, participants from around the state entered their designs into state contests for quilt and wall hangings, afghans and a knitted or crocheted apparel competition.

Barbara Lahr received top honors in the wall hanging division. Deb Matlock was the award winner in the afghan division and Lynda Johnson won in the knitted apparel contest.

Opportunities

Ashlynn will represent Wyoming in the Junior Division at the national MIWW contest on Jan. 26-28 in Denver, Colo.

As the Adult Division winner, Munroe will send her outfit, photos and a video of herself modeling the outfit to a national judging committee. The national winner is then selected and the winner is invited to attend the National Convention in Denver, Colo.

For further information regarding the MIWW competition in Wyoming, please contact Lynda Johnson, State Director, at 307-399-6723 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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..

Casper – The Wyoming Make It With Wool (MIWW) state contest has drawn crowds for over 70 years and was held during the 2017 opening luncheon of the Wyoming Natural Resources Rendezvous (WNRR) on Nov. 27 at the Ramkota Hotel and Convention Center.

“The contest promotes wool fabrics and yarn, and it’s a sewing competition where contestants can show off their sewing skills, tailoring skills, creativity and other techniques when making wool outfits,” stated MIWW Director Lynda Johnson.

Contest

Contestants are required to construct, knit or crochet their outfits from at least 60 percent wool fabric or yarn. Then in October and November, contestants compete in district competitions across Wyoming.

“Over 60 contestants participated in the district contests in 2017, and the district winners moved on to the state competition. A total of 15 contestants competed in the state competition this year, ” commented Johnson.

Contestants from across Wyoming created unique dresses, coats, jackets and more in the Junior, Senior and Adult Divisions and modeled them during the WNRR opening luncheon.

“Division winners receive cash awards and prizes donated by businesses, ranchers and others. All the contestants receive 2.5-yard lengths of Pendleton wool fabric, donated by the Wyoming Wool Growers Association (WWGA) Auxiliary,” stated Johnson. 

Junior division

In the Junior Division, there were seven young ladies, ages 13-16, who participated at the state level.

First place was given to Sydney Downare of Buffalo, who created and modeled a wine- and ivory-colored wool coat and wine-colored blouse.

Downare also received the Outstanding Construction award in her age division.

Second place went to Ashlynn Johnson of Encampment, who designed and modeled a blue and black wool coat, black pinstripe vest with slacks and a yellow blouse.

Ashlynn received both the Creativity Award and the People’s Choice Award, as well.

Senior division

In the Senior Division, contestants range from ages 17-24 across Wyoming.

Senior Division winner was Alicia Downare of Buffalo. She created and modeled a deep purple dress accompanied by a purple and grey jacket.

Second place was given to Alexandra Coffey of Laramie, with her salmon-colored wool coat. Coffey also received the Senior Division Outstanding Construction award.

According to Johnson, “The State Junior and Senior Division winners receive a trip to represent Wyoming at the National MIWW contest in San Antonio, Texas on Feb. 1-3, 2018.”

Adult division

There were six Adult Division contestants at the 2017 MIWW contest, ages 25 and older.

Estella Monroe of Encampment was the Adult Division champion, who created and modeled a brown multi coat, brown skirt, jacket and coral-colored shell top.

Monroe also received the Outstanding Construction award in the Adult Division and won a Janome sewing machine donated by Blakeman Vacuum and Sewing.

“The Adult Division winner sends their outfit, photos and a video of themselves modeling their outfit to the national judging committee, a national winner is selected and then invited to attend the national competition,” Johnson said.

Second place was given to Jamie Wilkinson of Torrington, who modeled a taupe and black plaid jumpsuit and jacket.

Additional contests

Aside from the main contest, there were also quilt and wall hanging, afghan and knitted and crocheted contests.

The winners for the knitted and crocheted contest were Sheryl Hunter of Saratoga in first place, Lynda Johnson of Encampment for second place, Kay Neves of Emblem in third and Maria Geis of Gillette in fourth.

“Other district categories include the Pre-Teen Division, Made for Others and Wearable Accessories,” added Johnson, which were not present at the state contest.

Contestants also participated in a workshop where they made wool pincushions and tied a wool quilt, which will be donated to the state MIWW program and auctioned at the 2018 West Central States Wool Growers Convention, mentioned Johnson.

“This contest is a competition where people can enter and show off their wool projects. Some people get involved with sports and some with music, and there are people who use sewing as a creative outlet,” Johnson said.

Heather Loraas is assistant 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.

The 87th Annual Wyoming State Ram Sale, as always, offers the highest quality rams meeting some of the most rigorous standards of any sale in the country. This year, 332 rams are consigned for the sale.

While billed as a range ram sale, the Wyoming Wool Growers Association’s (WWGA) Wyoming State Ram Sale produces rams that meet some of the most discriminating purebred buyers’ requirements. The sale has also rendered some of the highest prices for stud rams in the nation through the years, indicating the tremendous quality that comes through the State Ram Sale.

In addition, a select group of the highest-performing rams from the 2015 WWGA, Mountain States Lamb Cooperative and University of Wyoming Ram Sire Test will be consigned to the sale, bringing with them all of the performance data producers concerned with such could ask for. The Ram Sire Test rams qualifying for the sale represent the top 25 percent of those rams on the test. These rams will sell prior to the other black-face rams entered in the sale.

All consignors have either ELISA tested their rams for epididymitis or the rams originate from certified Brucella ovis “free” herds.

In a commitment to uncompromising quality, all rams are rigidly sifted by a panel of notable western sheepmen and knowledgeable veterinarians for soundness and health defects prior to the sale.

“It is our intention that all rams meet the highest quality standards for which the Wyoming State Ram Sale is noted,” comments the sale committee.

While the Wyoming State Ram Sale is about the business of transferring genetics within the sheep industry, it is also a time when sheep producers get together to visit, discuss the industry and renew old – and make new – acquaintances.

“These two days spent in Douglas are intended to be fulfilling, informative and fun,” the committee continues. “Only the healthiest, highest-quality rams from some of the nation’s premier breeders will be accepted for the sale, assuring buyers that our rams are truly the ‘Best in the West.’"

About WWGA

Formed more than 100 years ago by wool growers who wanted to provide a voice for producers, the Wyoming Wool Growers Association (WWGA) continues their tradition of supporting the sheep industry in the state. Today, WWGA is one of the foremost agricultural organizations in the state, and it garners respect and admiration at a national level.

WWGA works to enhance the lamb and wool industry in Wyoming, and the organization strives to protect and preserve the sheep industry’s rich contribution to Wyoming and to preserve the state’s western lifestyle.

Producers are busy and have ranches to operate, so WWGA serves as a watchman for those livestock producers who may not have the time or resources to follow the many issues facing the industry. WWGA provides its members with information on education and research; lobbying and legislative issues; marketing and promotion; and protecting and enhancing the environment while developing Wyoming’s renewable natural resource base.

For sheep producers who are interested in becoming a member of WWGA, contact Amy Hendrickson at 307-265-5250 or visit wyowool.com.

Anyone who visits with Wyoming woolgrowers will soon come away as optimistic as they are when talking about the health of their industry.

Sheep numbers increased more than 10,000 head from last year, and members of the Wyoming Wool Growers Association (WWGA) board of directors suggest the increase comes from more people getting into the business with smaller flocks.

The Association is this year’s University of Wyoming Outstanding Research/Partner of the Year Award recipient.

“We’ve been a player in Wyoming history as an Association since 1905, and when the university comes to us with an idea, and if it’s a good idea, I think we’ve been a strong supporter of the university,” says board member Regan Smith of Powell.

Weaves through Wyoming history

The sheep industry and Wyoming history are closely entwined, painting an early landscape of the state. There were 5 million sheep in the state in 1900, and by 2011, the figure was 275,000 – about the same number of sheep as on three early Wyoming operations – John Okie, Frances Warren and brothers Thomas, James and John Cosgriff.

Numbers have increased to 355,000 on Jan. 1, 2016.

Producers like what they see.

“We’re not going to see 10,000-head herds. That’s history,” says Peter John Camino, board member and third-generation sheep rancher from Buffalo. “But we are going to see people starting to figure out there is money in the sheep business. They are going to start out small and eventually get bigger. Especially with the decline in the cattle market, if we put dollar signs on the sheep side and beef side, we’re going to figure out which one is going to make money.”

Woolgrowers and the University of Wyoming have collaborated with ram tests since 1961 in the Animal Science Department.  The Association partners with the Mountain States Lamb Cooperative to conduct a black-face ram sire test and a white-face ram sire test with the University of Wyoming. Both are at the Laramie Research and Extension Center (LREC). Fleece characteristics are measured and combined with gain data to create an overall index.  

Seek sheep specialist

The board members have a unanimous answer to how the university could best serve them – hire a sheep specialist.

But they’re aware of the shrinking budgets.

Anyone who has lived in Wyoming knows the peaks and valleys of mineral revenues, says Smith.

“I don’t think any businessman, whether sheepman or anyone else, would want the university to not balance the budget,” he says.

But having a sheep specialist is still important, he notes. Progress is limited without the leadership a sheep specialist could provide.

“I think it’s paramount to get someone who can point UW in a direction, whether animal health or genetic research, whatever,” Smith says. “There are a multitude of things that can get done at the university, but we have to have someone spearhead it.”

Research center trials are also important. Producers don’t want to be the first to try something new and fail.

“If UW could test, then all the producers and taxpayers benefit from it,” says Smith. “That’s certainly a place the university can help.”

Education, information key

Sheep producers face the same issues they’ve always had – predators, funding, marketing, weather, the government and public lands, says producer Lisa Keeler of Kaycee.

“I think the university could help us by joining forces and assist us with education,” she says. “I think part of it is giving producers more tools with which to help us survive.”

She also suggests fresh information to help those already established, as well as information for those just starting out.

Management tool information is needed, as is information about genetics, says Camino.

“There is a lot of technology out there we should be able to use and can’t,” he says, also noting the lack of a sheep specialist and the benefits of providing information through meetings.

“Education is probably the number one thing to help producers,” says Camino.

Big Horn Basin producer Kay Neves of Emblem has seen quality improvement in sheep, which also improves lamb and wool quality.

“I think producers are working hard to improve their sheep, and they’re looking at a scientific basis for that,” says Neves.

International forces influence industry

Other issues are out of producer hands.

“The labor problem is probably one of the biggest we have,” Camino says. “If we don’t have labor, we can’t do our business. The labor department is putting on so many restrictions, it’s just about impossible to get outside help to come into the United States, and we cannot find American workers who will do sheep industry work. It’s just not there.”

Markets are at the mercy of international forces. Currently, the high dollar boosts wool prices but prompts imports of lamb at lower prices.

Camino, whose Basque grandfather came to America in 1904, says, “People see the future of the sheep industry as down. I don’t believe that.”

Neither does Amy Hendrickson, WWGA executive director.

“We have a vibrant sheep industry, despite all the pressures,” she notes. “It is not easy. Any ranching these days isn’t particularly easy,” but points out the rising sheep numbers in the state.

She also notes the need for a sheep specialist.

“The sheep industry is very supportive of the university, and they’ve done a number of things for us, but it is disappointing we have to go outside the state to get expertise on some things,” says Hendrickson. “They do everything they can to help us, but a sheep specialist would help. I think they do a great job at the LREC sheep farm. They do the best they can, and we are very, very appreciative.”

This article is courtesy of the University of Wyoming.