More efficient white face composite sire being developed by USDA | TSLN.com

More efficient white face composite sire being developed by USDA

Gayle Smith

Courtesy photoDr. Gregory Lewis, location coordinator and research leader with the USDA-ARS and U.S. Sheep Experiment Station in Dubois, ID.

What if producers were able to purchase a white-face terminal sire that produced lambs with good carcass traits and valuable pelts? A study underway at the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agriculture Research Service (USDA-ARS) Sheep Experiment Station in Dubois, ID, is attempting to develop a composite sire with the best traits of three breeds of sheep.

According to Dr. Gregory Lewis, location coordinator and research leader with the USDA-ARS and U.S. Sheep Experiment Station, the study started several years ago after visiting with members of the sheep industry about their various concerns. A survey later conducted indicated that producers were concerned about survival of their sheep, fitness, growth, feed efficiency, carcass merit and value, suitability for extensive rangeland production systems, and pelt value.

“Livestock should work for us,” Lewis said. “If they are not using the resources we give them, then we need to get rid of them. They need to be able to harvest nutrients from the land and use them productively.”

As a result of these concerns, the USDA started a study evaluating breed diversity in terminal cross breeding systems to improve reproductive performance. Their plan was to develop a composite sire line by comparing one breed with another in similar production systems. Extensive evaluations and measurements were taken on everything from production to growth traits and carcass value of the F1 lambs in the study.

“Producers are concerned about the size of the rams we have available today,” Lewis said. “Huge sires don’t live very long. In fact, one study in California indicated the average Suffolk ram lives little more than a year,” he explained. “Producers are also concerned with survival, which relates to fitness traits like reproductive performance and immunology. Feeders like to see fast growing lambs that are highly efficient in the feedyard, and packers want lambs with good carcass merit and high value carcasses,” he explained.

Producers should also be concerned with pelt value, Lewis continued. “It is well known that white pelts sell better than black pelts. We have heard from buyers that pelts with black fiber aren’t worth as much. The big growth in the hair sheep industry has produced pelts that are virtually worthless, and being thrown away,” he said. “Pelt value is very important.”

Recommended Stories For You

What if producers were able to purchase a white-face terminal sire that produced lambs with good carcass traits and valuable pelts? A study underway at the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agriculture Research Service (USDA-ARS) Sheep Experiment Station in Dubois, ID, is attempting to develop a composite sire with the best traits of three breeds of sheep.

According to Dr. Gregory Lewis, location coordinator and research leader with the USDA-ARS and U.S. Sheep Experiment Station, the study started several years ago after visiting with members of the sheep industry about their various concerns. A survey later conducted indicated that producers were concerned about survival of their sheep, fitness, growth, feed efficiency, carcass merit and value, suitability for extensive rangeland production systems, and pelt value.

“Livestock should work for us,” Lewis said. “If they are not using the resources we give them, then we need to get rid of them. They need to be able to harvest nutrients from the land and use them productively.”

As a result of these concerns, the USDA started a study evaluating breed diversity in terminal cross breeding systems to improve reproductive performance. Their plan was to develop a composite sire line by comparing one breed with another in similar production systems. Extensive evaluations and measurements were taken on everything from production to growth traits and carcass value of the F1 lambs in the study.

“Producers are concerned about the size of the rams we have available today,” Lewis said. “Huge sires don’t live very long. In fact, one study in California indicated the average Suffolk ram lives little more than a year,” he explained. “Producers are also concerned with survival, which relates to fitness traits like reproductive performance and immunology. Feeders like to see fast growing lambs that are highly efficient in the feedyard, and packers want lambs with good carcass merit and high value carcasses,” he explained.

Producers should also be concerned with pelt value, Lewis continued. “It is well known that white pelts sell better than black pelts. We have heard from buyers that pelts with black fiber aren’t worth as much. The big growth in the hair sheep industry has produced pelts that are virtually worthless, and being thrown away,” he said. “Pelt value is very important.”

Go back to article