South Dakota ranks sixth nationally in sheep and wool production. And the industry is growing.
Sheep Reproduction and Genetics
All Sheep Reproduction and Genetics Content
April 12, 2022
Results from the Dakota Performance Ram Test provide participating producers with data on economically important ram traits, including growth performance, wool and carcass quality.
Optimizing flock nutrition throughout the breeding season can help improve conception rates, lambing percentages and ram longevity.
Sheep and goat producers in the upper Midwest rely on annual lamb or kid crops to maintain economic viability. Reduction in the lamb or kid crop due to abortion (premature birth) and stillbirths are a common occurrence on many farms. Some of these problems have implications for human health as well as animal health.
Efforts to manage the reproductive cycle of the ewe have been a focus of producers and researchers for decades. By nature sheep are seasonal breeders with active ewe estrus cycles expected from late-August until January in the Upper Midwest and in a state of anestrous (non-cyclic) for the other months. Recently a commercial progesterone intra-vaginal device, the EAZI-BREED sheep CIDR (controlled internal drug release) was approved in the US to synchronize estrus in mature ewes during the anestrous period.
Sheep producers continually look for opportunities to improve their flocks through the introduction of genetic traits that will contribute to both improve the performance and physical appearance of the offspring. For hundreds of years, producers used the phenotype or physical appearance traits to select replacement stock, followed by performance trials and wool testing to quantitatively define the traits a specific animal may possess.