Nebraska Sheep and Goat Producers Association

Approximately 25 sheep and goat producers from around the state attended the Nebraska Sheep and Goat Producers Association (NSGPA) in North Platte on September 24 and 25.  This two-day event was held in conjunction with the 4S Goat show and sale occurring at the same time at the Lincoln County Fairgrounds.

Along with a row of pens exhibiting several popular breeds of sheep and goats, a number of industry leaders shared presentations relevant to small ruminant production.  Leading off the conference on Saturday morning Rob Zelensky of Hubbard Feeds talked about creep feed nutrition.  He also emphasized considerations for drought feeding sheep and goats, keeping in mind mineral and protein supplementation necessary with stressed and lower quality forage feeds.  Rob further shared discussion of sheep and goat health issues and management strategies.

Jesse Fulton from UN-Lincoln demonstrated some handling techniques and alley/pen arrangements with some Katahdin ewes provided by Kelly Bruns of North Platte.  Jesse indicated the marketing defects and discount of improper handling.  Further he shared the ease and low stress to sheep and handler, with

 proper facilities arrangement and handling that can be obtained. 

After lunch George Mann, NSGPA board member and sheep producer from Hays Center, lead the group through some simple management practices to improve the value of wool.  His comments were reinforced and multiplied with a presentation by Lisa Surber PhD, from LM Livestock Services LLC of Opal, South Dakota.  Included in Lisa’s presentation was a demonstration of a portable wool fiber testing instrument.  This unit can test wool for average fiber diameter and variability, comfort factors, and other measured traits associated with wool grading and value.  Lisa compared results from three different fleeces after attendees ranked them on visual and touch assessments.

Lisa then monitored a lively discussion on the direction of small ruminant production in Nebraska.  The general consensus was positive toward an increase in opportunities as the drought and current market slump work their way through the next few months.  This discussion was followed by the association’s annual business meeting chaired by acting president Dan Stehlik.  Several reports reported recognition for promotional activities conducted by the association through the past year such as sponsoring an Aksarben lamb project, holding a lambing/kidding school, sponsoring state fair FFA champion ram award and 4-H champion doe awards, and support for the Make It With Wool program.  General business included moving forward to planning lambing/kidding schools in January, an ultrasound clinic mid-year 2023, and again supporting the Make It With Wool state competition.  The meeting was concluded with a leg of lamb entre’ meal.

Sunday morning programs included sheep, wool, and goat marketing considerations by Lisa Surber. This was followed by Brittany and Jesse Fulton of the Diamond S Stock Farms.  They shared their experiences of using various management methods to lamb 75-90 ewes every eight months with a target of all the ewes lambing within one week.  The morning sessions concluded with an interesting analysis of current and potential future price probabilities by Tyler Cozzens PhD, of the Livestock Marketing Information Center of North Platte.  Tyler regularly submits industry economic articles for the American Sheep Industry magazine.  Tyler was followed by another lamb meal at noon prior to the conclusion of a very informative conference.