Enhancing sheep health and productivity trainings

Project Overview

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2024: $21,697.00
Projected End Date: 05/01/2026
Grant Recipient: South Dakota State University
Region: North Central
State: South Dakota
Project Coordinator:
Jaelyn Whaley
South Dakota State University


No commodities identified


No practices identified

Proposal abstract:

This project will consist of five field days across the
Northcentral region followed by one-on-one operation visits.
Traditional sheep breeds and management systems have relied
solely on phenotypic selection. Recent developments in breeding
technology has demonstrated that genetics provide a more accurate
way to improve the sustainability of sheep operations and the
resources they utilize. The National Sheep Improvement Program
(NSIP) provides seedstock breeders the tools and technologies to
quantitatively accomplish this goal. Seedstock breeders use NSIP
to generate estimated breeding values (EBVs) for a variety of
traits, such as growth, litter size, parasite resistance, and
carcass merit. This technology has been proven to work in other
livestock species across the world. However, the US sheep
industry has been slow to adopt this technology. Thus, to
increase awareness and adoption, we will host five field days
spread across the North Central region at innovative sheep farms
to demonstrate how to apply these technologies. After the field
days, SDSU extension sheep specialists will visit operations for
a personalized experience in determining which data to collect
and how to accurately utilize the genetic information returned.
Deliverables will also include a sheep genetics handbook and
fillable data collection management checklist and calendar. 

Project objectives from proposal:

This proposal addresses 4 major objectives:
1. Educate sheep producers on how to capture and utilize emerging
genetic technologies to improve animal health and performance for
their unique operation. 
2. Educate sheep producers on how to match genetic potential of
sheep and sustainable flock management strategies, such as
multispecies grazing, targeted nutrition, selective deworming,
rotational grazing, and flock performance data management, to
optimize the entire farming system.
3. Demonstrate genetic technologies and production practices that
have been
successfully applied by farmers throughout the North Central
4. Increase the level of use by sheep producers of available
genetic information for flock improvement. 

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.