Stage is set to improve U.S. sheep genetics

Farm Forum

The Lamb Industry Roadmap has strongly supported the improvement of sheep genetics from the start, and it is extremely pleased by many positive developments on this front.

This spring has been a busy time for the National Sheep Improvement Program (NSIP). NSIP has more flocks enrolled and more sheep with EBVs than ever before – thanks to support from the American Lamb Board and the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center,. The support from the industry has made this expansion possible, and the returns will be seen industry wide with the increased use of quantitative genetic selection – thereby improving the productivity and profitability of American sheep producers.

To better serve the current NSIP members and the entire U.S. sheep industry, NSIP has hired a part-time program director, Rusty Burgett. Rusty has experience in the commercial and purebred sectors of the industry and is dedicated to improving the nation’s sheep flock. The board also welcomes Tom Boyer as vice chairman and Walt Williams as treasurer as well as several new breed representatives. The advancement of NSIP is a result of the hard work of this volunteer board.

Continuing this momentum, NSIP was awarded funding from the ASI Let’s Grow committee for the American Sheep Industry Genetic Improvement Initiative. NSIP’s educational effort encompasses all aspects of the sheep industry across the country and focuses on productivity improvement. The project includes:

Educational materials

• Ram Buyers Guide to Productivity Improvement — educates commercial producers about selecting rams based on estimated breeding values to increase productivity

• Productivity Improvement Case Study Videos — Commercial and seedstock producers that have embraced the technology of EBVs will be highlighted as examples for the entire industry

Workshops and Field Days

• Hands-on productivity improvement workshops will be held across the U.S. to demonstrate the benefits of EBVs.

• Breeders Regional Forums-Workshops designed to train breeders on how to use NSIP to make genetic improvement and how to market genetics into the commercial sector

• Development of Seedstock Consortiums- Facilitating working groups of like minded breeders to expedite genetic improvement focusing on range and fine wool producers.

This project is extensive in size and scope and is focused on educating the industry of the benefits that can be reaped when quantitative genetic selection is implemented. To date, NSIP is featured in workshops at 9 different sheep festivals and sales across the U.S.

If you have an event this year and you would like NSIP featured, please contact Rusty Burgett at or 515-708-8850.