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“Estimated breeding values (EBV) are a tool that we can use to do a better job of making sheep that will work for our customers,” stated Professor Emeritus Dave Notter with the Department of Animal and Poultry Sciences at Virginia Tech.

EBVs provide producers with comparative data to use for sheep breeding selections, and the National Sheep Improvement Program (NSIP) reports data for a variety of traits.

“Body weight traits have been the key element of genetic evaluation in the sheep industry since the very beginning of genetic evaluation programs,” noted Notter.

The most common of these include birth weight, weaning weight, post-weaning weight and yearling weight. Sheep producers are also interested in hogget weight, which is a term used in Australia and New Zealand to refer to animals that are about 18 months of age.

“If we start recording yearling weights and hogget weights more regularly, it gives us a way to see what the adult weights of the ewes are likely to be,” he explained.

Ideal growth

An ideal growth curve, he said, would begin with a lamb born at a moderate birth weight so that the lamb is big enough to get up, nurse and thrive but not too big for the mother to deliver.

“That lamb needs to grow like a house on fire until sale time, either as a feeder or a finished lamb. For the industry, he needs to keep growing until the day he goes to market,” he commented.

He continued, “A ewe needs to be big enough to breed at seven to eight months of age, and she needs to get plenty big enough to raise her first lamb. Then, growth needs to flatten off so adult maintenance costs stay low, condition is maintained and the animal can thrive on pasture and range.”

Unlike cattle, large birth weights are not a common problem in sheep. Notter shared data illustrating that underweight lambs, or those less than about 6.5 pounds, have a reduced chance of survival compared to larger lambs.

“Birth weight EBVs are something we don’t really need to pay a lot of attention to unless we are getting a lot of underweight lambs that are dying or we have some really huge lambs that have trouble getting out,” he explained.

Weaning weight, yearling weight and hogget weight EBVs, he argued, are likely more relevant to selecting for an optimum growth curve.

Lambs born, weaned

“The number of lambs born and number of lambs weaned are traits that are extremely important economically,” Notter added.

EBVs for these two traits are something that NSIP has placed a lot of emphasis on.

“We want to optimize, rather than maximize, those EBVs,” he commented. “If we want to wean a 200 percent lamb crop, which we talk about a lot in the sheep industry, we have to drop at least 2.25 lambs per ewe lambing.”

Data shows that the frequency of triplets born goes up significantly as the number of ewes having twins gets higher than 65 percent.

“We can have triplets. We just have to keep them alive,” he said.

Other traits

Fecal egg count EBVs are another trait that producers can consider when selecting for the flock.

“The fecal egg count EBV is used to select for parasite resistance and is being used almost exclusively for Katahdin. It is increasingly being used for other breeds as well,” Notter stated.

Data collection is somewhat challenging, as fecal samples must be collected from the rectum of lambs at times when parasites are present in the environment, but for producers who are interested in parasite resistance, he believes that further developing the EBV will provide a useful tool.

“Moving on to some other traits, greasy fleece weights, fiber diameter and staple lengths are standard EBVs in NSIP,” Notter continued.

Ultrasound fat and muscle depths are also standard EBVs, and NSIP uses a number of indexes to optimize trait combinations.

“Wool production, separate from meat production, is not in the cards anymore. Animals have to be multi-purpose producers of lamb and wool,” he commented.

By using indexes, or mathematical equations based on certain trait values, emphasis can be placed on specific EBVs to meet optimum criteria for a given objective.

“Indexes are not static. They are dynamic,” Notter explained, saying that they occasionally need to be reworked to fit the trait changes seen across breeds through newer generations.

Selection tool

“If we use our EBVs in our selection program, genetic change will occur. Some traits deserve emphasis only when there is an opportunity or a problem. Otherwise, we should continue to place emphasis on the traits with more clearly documented economic importance,” he stated.

Examples he provided for opportunistic EBVs included birth weight, ultrasonic fat and ultrasonic muscle depth.

Notter added, “Early growth, post weaning growth, number of lambs born and weaned, maternal ability, fleece weights and fleece diameters are the core economically important traits.”

He emphasized looking at the number of lambs born and the number of lambs weaned when selecting for the flock.

“Good indexes are also increasingly necessary to properly use EBVs. They need to have a sound economic basis, and if they are done right, our customers will thank us for it,” Notter said.

Dave Notter was the featured speaker for a National Sheep Improvement Program webinar that aired on Aug. 25, 2015.

Natasha Wheeler is editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

“It’s important to do breeding soundness testing because we have good solid rams, and we want to utilize them to their fullest extent,” Cleon Kimberling, a veterinarian who has been instrumental in ram breeding soundness research, explained. “Large scrotal circumference in healthy breeding rams increases twinning. It’s also really important is our ability to shorten the lambing period.” 

Kimberling was joined by veterinarian Geri Parsons during a June 25 webinar titled “Ram Breeding Soundness Evaluation,” which looked inside the importance of a breeding soundness exam and how the exams are conducted.

The exam

The breeding soundness examination looks beyond semen quality, said Kimberling, noting, “A total physical examination of the ram is conducted, with an emphasis on the reproductive tract.” 

The breeding soundness exam, rather, assesses “a ram’s potential ability to impregnate a given number of ewes over a defined period of time,” he said. “It’s not a fertility check, though.”

While the breeding soundness exam involves a physical and reproductive exam, Kimberling encouraged producers that the exam should also include observation of rams in their natural environment.

“We can identify rams that form ‘buddy groups’ that might have little interest in ewes at all,” he said. “Studies at Dubois, Idaho show that 10 to 15 percent of all rams do not have any interest in ewes. We can spot those when they are in their normal environment and get rid of them.” 

While rams only “work” for a short time each year, Kimberling said it’s important to keep them in good condition throughout the year.

“Don’t just pull the rams in 30 days before breeding, put them on corn and try to get them in shape,” he cautioned. “Rams are like a fine-tuned athlete. They’ve got work to do and need to be in good body condition way before we start the breeding season.”

Producers should strive for a ram with a body condition score of three to four, avoiding both extremely thin or over-fat rams.

“If they’re in the wool, we have to put our hands on the rams,” Kimberling said. “If there is a long staple length, the body condition is masked.”

Physical exam

In an overall exam, Parsons said they begin looking at the general overall health condition.

“We want to make sure they are bright and alert, as well as free of eye and nose discharge,” she said. “We make sure there are no external parasites or fungus.”

The mouth and mucus membranes should be slightly moist and pink.

“If a ram’s mucus membranes are pale, it may indicate an internal parasitism problem,” Parsons notes. “Pale mucus membranes mean we need to take a fecal sample to figure out if they have parasites or not.”

Parsons encouraged producers to make sure teeth are in good shape. 

“We also want to make sure there is no lameness present,” she continues, noting bumble foot, ovine contagious foot rot or foot abscesses are common. “It’s really important the ram is able to move freely and mount ewes to do its job.”

Reproductive exam

In the reproduction portion of the exam, Parsons explained they begin with palpation of the testicles, epididymis and spermatic cords up to the attachments into the body, to make sure they are even, there are no lumps, bumps, hard or soft spots, swelling or edema. 

“We also want to make sure there’s no difference in size in the testes and making sure they’re uniformly firm,” she said. “Significant differences in size can sometimes indicate atrophy or disease.”

One of the most common causes of infertility in males is epididymitis. 

“Epididymitis doesn’t go away in the ram,” Parsons explained. “The sperm are formed in the body of the testes, but they are stored and mature in the epididymis. When it is blocked off, nothing is moved through and the testicle is done for.” 

A scrotal circumference is also taken in the reproductive exam.

“A satisfactory score for a ram lamb is a minimal circumference of 30 centimeters, and an exceptional score is 36 centimeters,” Parsons said. “For rams over 14 months of age, we need a minimum of 33 scrotal circumference, and for exceptional, we want a ram with a scrotal circumference of greater than 40 centimeters.”

Scrotal circumference is importance because it indicates fertility.

“A ram with a larger scrotal circumference can service more ewes in a heat cycle than one with a small scrotal circumference,” Parsons said.

In addition, larger scrotal circumference increases the probability of twinning and early female maturation age. 

Moving through the reproductive exam, Parsons examines the prepuce, sheath and penis, which may restrict breeding ability. 

Semen samples

Following reproductive physical exams, semen samples are taken using electrical stimuli. 

“The semen sample is viewed in a lab under a microscope,” Parsons said. “We use a phase contrast microscope, which is important so we can view all potential defects.”

Semen motility and morphology are both analyzed in the sample to make sure sperm are able to move forward progressively.

“At that point, we also look to see if there are any white cells in the sample, which can indicate disease,” she added. “As long as the penis is extended when we collect the sample, the white cells will come from the reproductive or urinary tracts. If the penis is not extended, we are more likely to get debris, skin cells or potentially white cells from inside the sheath.”

Morphology of cells are also examined, including both the size and shape. Sperm should be a consistent size and shape, with the tails attacked in the mid-line of the sperm. Tails should also be straight.

“The head of the sperm cell – the acrosome – is responsible for penetration of the sperm into the egg, so if there is anything messed up on the top, it will make the sperm unviable,” Parsons explained. “If there is anything wrong with our sperm, ewes won’t get bred.”

Classifying rams

After the exam, Parsons said rams are rated excellent, satisfactory, questionable and unsatisfactory. 

“For a ram to be excellent, he has to be excellent in every single category,” she said. “The classification system is based on one ram impregnating 100 ewes in an 18-day heat cycle.”

“There are many things that, looking over the fenceline, we don’t see,” Parsons commented. “Often these things wouldn’t be noticed until all of our ewes come up open.”

The American Sheep Industry Association’s Let’s Grow program funded this webinar. 

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..

As sheep producers across the country are preparing for the breeding season, Montana State University Extension Sheep Specialist Rodney Kott, Montana State University research scientist Lisa Surber and North Dakota State University Sheep Extension Specialist Reid Redden looked at feeding ewes during breeding and pregnancy for optimal production.
    Proper feeding of ewes has a direct affect on production, and nutrition respresents one of the largest costs for a producer.
    “The goal of any nutrition program is to maximize the use of our forages,” said Kott in the Aug. 29 webinar, sponsored by the American Sheep Industry and the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center. “The first thing in any nutrition program is that we have to follow the nutrient requirements of the animal.”
Optimum feeding
    Redden began by identifying important considerations for feeding ewes and marked energy and protein as the main requirements.
    “One of the first things we realize is that sheep do not require any one specific feed,” Redden commented. “It is the nutrients within the feed that are most important.”
    He further encouraged producers to consider feeding on a 12 month scale.
    “For a ewe in maintenance, her dry matter intake is less than three pounds, and right before breeding we need to increase dry matter by 45 percent,” Redden explained. “Right after the breeding period, nutrient requirements drop to just about 10 percent above maintenance.”
    Requirements remain steady through early and mid-gestation, increase to 45 percent above maintenance again at late gestation for a single lamb and 50 percent above maintenance for twins.
    “We see a drastic increase for requirements at lactation,” he added. “Ewes require 95 percent more feed – almost twice what she needs to maintain – for a single, and if she has a twin, they require about 125 percent above maintenance.”
    Total digestible nutrients (TDN) and crude protein requirements follow similar trends, with increases just prior to breeding, at late gestation and during lactation.
Percentage versus amounts
    “Another key point on nutrient requirements is how much crude protein you need,” added Redden. “Animals require amounts, not percentages, of nutrients, and feed is often expressed as a percentage.”
    For example, Redden says if a lamb needs 0.5 pounds of crude protein, that nutrient could be gained from eating two pounds of a feed source with 25 percent crude protein, three pounds of a 17 percent source or four pounds of a food source that is 12 percent crude protein.
    “The only percentage we need to focus on is the requirements of the rumen microbes,” he noted. “They need a certain percentage – between six and eight percent crude protein – to maintain normal function.”
    He also mentioned, however, that optimum feeding strategies may not always involved meeting the exact nutrient requirements of each ewe at each stage.
    “In lactation, for example, we can rarely get the ewe to eat enough,” Redden explained. “We can use the ewe’s body resources at that time of negative energy balance.”
    “The question is, how much can we afford to lose?” he asked.
Body condition scoring
    In order to determine ewe body composition or assess nutrient status, Surber marked body condition scoring as an excellent tool.
    “We’d like our ewes to be at a body condition score of three,” she said. “It is pretty likely, and maybe even economical, that during certain times of the year she will fall below that body condition score.”
    Body condition score is an estimation of the muscle and fat development on an animal, according to Surber, and the scores range between a one, for extremely thin or emaciated sheep, to five, or obese.
    “We want to focus on the scores two and three, because that is where you want to see the majority of your sheep,” she noted. “As a trained producer, you should be able to identify body condition score.”
    Surber noted however, that while producers are learning to assess body condition score, it is important to actually feel the sheep.
     “In the wool, it makes it more difficult to assess body condition until you get your hands on them,” she said. “The differences in wooled sheep are more subtle.”
    Assessment of body condition should be done four to six weeks before breeding, according to Surber, who says that at that point, it is still possible to improve or change their nutrient status.
    Kott noted that if ewes are in a body condition score of between two and 3.5, a flushing effect can be seen and can improve breeding results.
    “The true flushing response is something we don’t really understand, but it is real,” Kott said. “It is an ovulation rate increase and a response to an increase in nutrition.”
    While the response is dependent on a number of things, Kott noted that a short-term increase in nutrition can increase ovulation. Mature ewes respond better, but he still recommends that producers flush all ewes in the body condition score range.
    “There has been a lot of research. You can flush with protein or energy, and in some cases one-third or one-quarter pound of grains will get the job done,” Kott said.
Early pregnancy
    After ewes are bred, Redden noted that nutrition in the early stages of gestation is very important, largely because placental growth occurs during that stge.
    “The first fifty days of pregnancy are very important,” said Redden. “We have a lot of things going on that nutrition can have a large impact on.”
    Of primary concern, he said that increasing conception rate is very important, and feeding the ewes optimally can help with increasing implantation and decreasing abortion rates.
    “Overfeeding and underfeeding can have detrimental effects, and we might lose more lambs than we’d like,” Redden added.
    Though in the first trimester producers need to feed their ewes a bit more, he cautioned against overfeeding.
    “One thing that was clear in research is that overfeeding and underfeeding both alter blood flow to the reproductive track, which reduces progesterone,” Redden explained. “Reduced progesterone will increase embryonic loss.”
    In the first 50 days of pregnancy, he further explained that the majority of placental development occurs, and feeding influences placental development. Both over and underfeeding causes the placenta to be smaller. The smaller placentas do not allow the lamb to grow as large, resulting in neonatal losses from light lambs.
    “We need to feed the ewes what they need when they need it,” Redden added. “Feed the ewes what they need, and that’s it.”
    This webinar will be available online at The webinar was offered by the American Sheep Industry Association in conjunction with its Rebuild the Sheep Industry initiative.
    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..

BCS determines ewe condition
    Montana State University research scientist Lisa Surber said,  “Body condition scoring is an excellent way to determine body composition or assess nutrient status.”
    Body condition scores range from one to five and describe sheep from very thin to obese.
    “A one is a very thin ewe with no fat cover. The loin muscle is severely underdeveloped, her spine feels sharp, and you should be able to fit your hand underneath the transverse process,” said Surber.
    On the opposite end of the spectrum, ewes with a body condition score of five are soft to the touch.
    Surber noted, “On a five, you won’t feel anything but fat.”
Lead, S.D. – With drought conditions plaguing much of the area, sheep producers should carefully monitor the body condition of their ewes through the winter months, was the take-home message from the director of the North Dakota State University Hettinger Research Extension Center.
    Chris Schauer talked to a packed room of over 100 sheep producers during the 2012 Northern Plains Sheep Symposium in Lead, S.D. on Sept. 28-29 about monitoring body condition score (BCS) in ewes and options for supplementation.
    With winter feed costs expected to hit record highs and range quality deteriorating, producers need to reduce feed waste where they can, Schauer said.
    “This year, it will be important to feed the correct amount and reduce waste by using bunks, or even conveyor belting, to feed on,” he said.
    He also encouraged producers to extend fall and winter grazing if they can and utilize cheap feedstuffs when they need to supplement.
    Schauer shared some data from research conducted in North Dakota that showed how much crude protein and energy the ewe needs to maintain herself until May lambing. This data was based on a 150-pound ewe and a 200 percent lamb crop. During the winter, Schauer said producers should monitor the BCS and stage of pregnancy, quantity and quality of forage and be willing to seek out available feed supplements based on least cost and ease of feeding.
Monitor body condition score
    Schauer said the average ewe should be in a BCS three, with one being extremely thin, and five being obese. Typically, range ewes average a two or three, while farm flocks average a three to four, he said.
    To move one BCS, a change of 10 to 12 percent in body weight is required.
    To determine BCS, producers need to evaluate the fullness of muscle and fat cover over the loin by feeling it. Next, they need to feel behind the last rib and in front of the hipbone, and finally, feel for tips of the transverse process.
    Based on the stage of production, Schauer said producers should aim for the following body condition scores. In dry ewes, a 1.5 to two is desirable, while breeding ewes should score 2.5 to three. During early gestation a BCS of two to 2.5 is recommended, a 2.5 to three BCS during late gestation and three to 3.5 during early lactation. During late lactation and weaning, BCS recommendations drop to two to 2.5.
    Schauer cautioned producers that they need to add 0.5 to the BCS for ewes expecting or nursing twins. They may also need to adjust nutritional requirements for older ewes and yearling ewes, who may need a higher energy ration.
    Rams should also be in a solid body condition score three before breeding, he recommended.
Her requirements
    Consider water, energy, nitrogen, or crude protein, minerals and vitamins when developing a balanced ration for the ewes, Schauer said.
    Nitrogen is important when considering the urea in the diet; and crude protein, which is nitrogen multiplied by 6.25, is the common term for determining the amount of nitrogen in the diet.
    “During a year like this, crude protein will be deficient,” he added, showing producers some research indicating native range that varied from four to seven percent crude protein fell short of meeting the ewe’s requirement of seven to 15 percent, depending upon the time of year and stage of production.
    Producers also need to balance the diet for energy, which is the largest proportion of the sheep’s diet.
    “Energy is important because it is required for efficient reproduction, growth, lactation and wool production,” he said.
Options to meet
    To meet these requirements, Schauer encouraged producers to seek out available supplements and not be afraid to think outside the box.
    He also urged producers to add in additional costs for fuel and labor when determining which supplement to purchase. Schauer said a block or liquid can have significant labor savings, but producers will need to monitor intake and make sure the block meets the animal’s nutritional requirements.
    Other supplements may be cheaper, but producers need to consider the cost of labor feeding the supplement daily, three times a week or weekly.
    If the supplement can be fed weekly, Schauer said producers may be able to save $920 in labor and fuel costs each month over feeding the supplement daily. He determined this by figuring fuel at three gallons per supplementation day at four dollars a gallon, and labor at 2.5 hours per supplementation day at $10 an hour. He then calculated the cost based on 1,000 head of ewes.
    “I would encourage you to put in your own numbers to calculate this,” he said. “But for someone who works in town, like I do, feeding supplement once a week can add up to considerable savings.”
    Some least cost supplements producers may want to consider, according to Schauer, include soybean meal, oats, an 18 percent crude protein pellet and field peas. Dried distillers grains and first cutting alfalfa can also be competitive sources, if producers can find them, he said.
    Lastly, Schauer told sheep producers not to be afraid to consult their extension agent or a nutritionist to develop a balanced, nutritional ration.
    “There are supplements out there that won’t be able to meet the ewe’s requirements this year,” he said. “Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need to.”
    For more information, visit Schauer can be reached at 701-567-4323. 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..

Body condition scores of ewes
    As drought conditions continue to affect the West, North Dakota State University Hettinger Research Extension Center Director Chris Schauer looks at ewe body condition scoring as a valuable tool to ensure sheep are meeting their nutrient requirements.
    Schauer provided a list of the five body condition scores, as well as their descriptions, depicted below.

A research team at Washington State University (WSU) has developed an experimental vaccine for Bighorn Sheep that allows them to fight the toxin-producing bacteria implicated in large die-offs of the wild sheep.

Subramaniam Srikumaran, a WSU Professor in Veterinary Microbiology and Pathology, explains, “We find that most of the organisms carried by the domestic sheep produce a toxin, and most of the organisms carried by the Bighorn Sheep do not. That is why, when the Bighorn Sheep get these organisms in their system, they die quickly.”

This bacteria resides in the nose, mouth and throat of domestic sheep and is shed when sheep cough or sneeze. The bacteria reside in the droplets expelled until they are picked up when Bighorn Sheep consume forage or breathe in the organisms. Additionally, the bacteria can be transferred through nose-to-nose contact.

When Bighorn Sheep pick up the toxin-producing bacteria from domestic animals, the toxin kills white blood cells, compromising their immune system. As a result, damage to the lungs develops and pneumonia sets in, ultimately killing the Bighorn Sheep.

“It is logical to focus on the transmission of these organisms and making the Bighorn Sheep resistant by vaccinating,” continues Srikumaran. “We developed an experimental vaccine and immunized four Bighorn Sheep.”    

The experimental vaccine utilizes the antigens of toxin-producing bacteria in in a modified form to avoid causing disease in the Bighorn sheep.

“We modify them in a way that doesn’t cause the disease, but structurally, it is the same, so the immune system of the body can respond,” explains Srikumaran.

Some of the cells of the immune system, known as memory cells, remain in the blood and circulate through the body, so when the bacteria is encountered again, the body can respond more rapidly and in a more pronounced manner, according to Srikumaran.

After vaccinating the Bighorn Sheep multiple times to increase antibody numbers, Srikumaran says they introduced a challenge test by putting the microorganism in the nostrils of the Bighorn Sheep. Four Bighorn sheep were vaccinated while four were unimmunized, serving as a control.

“All four of the unimmunized animals died, and all four vaccinated animals are still alive,” says Srikumaran, noting that this indicates initial success with the vaccine.

While there has been success with this vaccine, Srikumaran admits there is further work to be done.

“We used the vaccine four times,” says Srikumaran. “In wild animals, that isn’t practical. Even one injection is not really practical in Bighorn Sheep.”

“In the next three to five years, our focus is to come up with a vaccine that can be delivered intra-nasally or orally,” continues Srikumaran.

Srikumaran explains that Bighorn Sheep are fed pelleted feed in the winter when little food is available in the high mountains. The sheep would take in the vaccine while eating. However, developing an oral vaccine is both difficult and time-consuming.

In addition to the vaccine, Srikumaran’s team is working on a product to reduce the transmission of toxin-producing bacteria from domestic sheep.

“We found another bacterium that doesn’t produce a toxin,” says Srikumaran. “In the laboratory, we have shown that this bacteria can grow and eliminate the disease-causing bacteria. We plan to test in the animal in the next two to three years.”

This strategy would require domestic sheep producers to spray the helpful bacteria into the nose of sheep to reduce the number of toxin-producing bacteria and limit transmission.

“We don’t know whether it completely eliminates the disease causing organisms from the throat of the domestic sheep, but even if it significantly reduces the numbers in the throat of the domestic sheep, it is a big step,” explains Srikumaran.

Srikumaran praises the efforts of Wyoming in his research, saying, “The state of Wyoming has contributed more funds than any other state towards the research.”

Following the Bighorn Sheep meeting held in Denver, Colo. on June 13-14, three working groups discussed the possible options in resolving conflict of domestic sheep and bighorn sheep intermingling.

According to the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI), more than 80 participants were involved, including industry representatives, state and federal agency representatives, wild sheep advocates and sheep producers.

Among the results of the meeting, a number of recommendations were made, including support of research for vaccine treatments, consolidation of best management practices (BMPs), evaluation of BMPs and implementation of collaborative working groups.

Wyoming State Veterinarian and American Sheep Industry Animal Health Committee Chair Jim Logan has chaired a task force relating to Bighorn Sheep for a number of years, saying they have worked closely with the Game and Fish and Bighorn Sheep advocacy groups and are establishing relationships with the BLM and Forest Service.

“We developed best management action plans for both the wildlife and domestic sheep side of things,” says Logan. “We are hoping that we will be able to get concurrence on some new research and some funding.”

“A lot of research from the past wasn’t valid,” adds Logan. “Some newer research points that out, so there is a huge need for peer-reviewed and collaborative research so we get acceptable results that can be dealt with appropriately.”

He also pointed out that the research available may incorrectly implicate domestic sheep in all die-offs of the wild animals.

“The sheep industry readily agrees that in some situations, die-offs do occur in association with domestic sheep, but there are documented situations where die-offs do occur with no correlation to sheep,” explains Logan.

In Wyoming, Logan has been working on a task force appointed by Governor Jim Geringer in the mid-1990’s. The Bighorn/Domestic Sheep Working Group includes the state veterinarian, director of the Department of Agriculture, director of the Game and Fish, sheep industry representatives and Bighorn Sheep Advocacy groups.

Logan says, “At this point, we have gained a lot of ground in Wyoming.”

Saige Albert 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..