Training Texas County Extension Agents and Mentor Ranchers to Improve Small Ruminant Health and Productivity Through Natural Genetic Selection Strategies

Project Overview

ES19-147
Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2019: $76,996.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2022
Grant Recipient: Texas A&M University
Region: Southern
State: Texas
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Reid Redden
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension

Commodities

  • Animals: goats, sheep

Practices

  • Animal Production: animal protection and health, genetics, parasite control
  • Education and Training: extension

    Proposal abstract:

    Texas is the largest sheep and goat producing state in the U.S., but parasite infestations and poor lamb crop percentages have plagued the state industry. Producers using estimated breeding values from the National Sheep Improvement Program have improved parasite resistance and fecundity in several other states, but the Texas seedstock industry has been slow to adopt the use of this genetic selection tool. Our goal is to train county agents and mentor sheep and goat ranchers to use this technology and be ambassadors for the widespread implementation of this technology in both traditional and nontraditional sheep and goat rearing areas of Texas. Initially, we will host a workshop for county agents and mentor ranchers to demonstration how the program works and provide hands-on experiential learning. Then, specialists, agents and ranchers will tour farms and ranches i other states that have successfully used EBVs for 10 or more years. Thereafter, agents and ranchers will implement this technology on their ranches within their counties. Lastly, agents and ranchers will serve as host sites for a field day and demonstration site for local sheep and goat producers. Quantitative genetic selection can rapidly advance the genetic resistance of sheep and goats to internal parasites, which will reduce or eliminate the need for pharmaceutical anthelmintics. It can also improve the reproductive efficiency of sheep and goats to allow producers to supply the growing demand for Texas grown lamb, wool, goat meat, and mohair. Neither of these goals can be met without use of this technology.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    • Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agent understanding of how EBVs are developed by sheep and goat seedstock suppliers and why it is important that commercial producers buy rams/bucks with EBVs;
    • Development of mentor ranchers that will implement quantitative genetic selection strategies and serve as leaders within the seedstock community;
    • Widespread awareness in sheep and goat industry of EBVs and why it is important that they are used in flock/herd replacement selection.
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.