I hope life for you is going to get back to a somewhat normal mode as we move out of this Covid 19 pandemic. It will be great to be able to spend more time with family and friends. We are also planning for office operations to get back to normal. Here’s hoping.
We are again talking a feed shortage. The dry and cold spring has reduced hay and pasture yields. In some parts of the province the rain is falling but in others it is still dry. If you’re anticipating a feed shortage, I encourage you to plan ahead, don’t wait until you’re out of feed to make adjustments. Look at securing alternative feed stuffs early. There are producers using alternative feeds such as pea and lentil straw with a supplement very successfully. When using alternative feeds, it is more important than ever to feed test and work with a nutritionist to make sure you are supplying the nutrition required for a productive flock. You may want to consider selling your lambs earlier, saving the feed for the breeding flock. Look at culling unproductive and older breeding stock, replace with ewe lambs keeping the most potentially productive flock. Better to invest expensive feed in potential productive ewes than marginal ewes.
Global demand for lamb remains strong and consumption is forecasted to continue to increase. Consumer preference for lamb has grown and supply has not kept pace. Strong demand mixed with tighter supplies of lamb and mutton will continue to support prices. However, I do not expect lamb prices to remain at levels they were this past year. There is a point when the price of lambs gets too high, and consumers will look at alternative protein sources. So, I do anticipate a price correction coming. With high feed prices there will be pressure on the feeder lamb price. I would expect a reduced price spread between heavy and feeder lambs. If you have the feed, there may be an advantage to feeding your lambs to a heavier weight.
I did an analysis of the price of lambs and cull sheep marketed through the Saskatchewan Sheep Development Board over the last five years. From the charts below you can see the seasonal price trend with very consistent year after year prices peaking in March – May. You will also see that the prices this past year have been much above the 5-year average.
I also did a comparison on marketing lambs between January - June vs July – December. You can see from the chart below that marketing your lambs from January – June has a price advantage.
The situation can vary slightly from year to year but when doing long term planning this gives you a good indication of market trends.
Lamb production expansion in our province continues to be a priority for the SSDB. We have set a goal to expand lamb production by 25% in the next 5-years in Saskatchewan. To help facilitate growth we need to address barriers to expansion. We have identified barriers to expansion but very quickly realized we do not have the resources to address all of them, so we have prioritized those we feel are having the greatest impact. These barriers are:
1. There is a perception by many people in Agriculture that the sheep industry is not a viable option which had been a major challenge for the industry to overcome.
2. Sheep producers lack the ability to finance breeding animals and facilities for entrance and or/ expansion by directly using the purchased or retained animals as security from most lenders, including the major banks
3. The Saskatchewan sheep industry is unable to source large groups of breeding animals which are currently in demand but not available.
4. The sheep industry does not have adequate Business Risk Management programing in place.
5. Flock healthalthough improving, the industry still struggles with flock health and nutrition challenges that are limiting production.
Our ADOPT project called the "Introduction of Synchronization and Induced Lambing Production Model to Saskatchewan Sheep Producers” continues. The objective of this project is to introduce Saskatchewan producers to a new production model of accelerated lambing, with the addition of inducing ewes. There is interest in the project and we are pleased with how things are progressing. Project farm trials will be completed this fall and at that time we will begin to develop a Synchronization and Induced Lambing Production Model guideline document.
We continue to work closely with WCVM researcher Dr. Dinesh Dadarwal and his colleagues on a new 3-year research project funded by the Saskatchewan Agricultural Development Fund (ADOPT). The study entitled “Updating the ram breeding soundness evaluation guidelines for accelerated lambing programs in Western Canada”.Enrolled rams will undergo a BSE ? once every month to monitor their scrotal circumference and sperm quality changes. We are looking for willing producers to participate in the project. Producers will be encouraged to enlist their rams for an entire year so that we can follow them both during the in-season and out-of-season periods. The study will recognize the producer's participation with an honorarium per collection per ram. If you are interested in participating, please contact Gord at the office.
Another potential project designed to encourage participation in the GenOvis program is planned. An application to the ADOPT program has been made. The project title is “GenOvis Genetic Evaluation Program Ultrasound Scanning Education and Training. The project objectives are to demonstrate, educate, train sheep producers and a select group of veterinarians on the program and the use of ultrasound scanning to measure loin and fat cover for the purposes of genetic evaluation for the GenOvis Program.
SSDB director elections will be required this fall in the Northeast and Central regions. I encourage producers in these regions to begin thinking about who they would like to represent them. Nomination forms and election materials will be in the October issue of Sheep Shape.
It is now mandatory for producers to have a PID number. If you do not have one, you should apply for one as soon as possible. There is no cost associated with getting a number. Producers can apply online or by submitting a paper application. Producers can visit http://premisesid.saskatchewan.ca to enroll online, or phone the Agriculture Knowledge Centre at 1‐866‐457‐2377 for further information.
We will again be hosting Saskatoon Livestock Sales Pre-sort Sale on September 25, 2021. We will not be including breeding stock in the sale. This will be strictly a pre-sort lambs and cull sheep sale. There will be a maximum number of animals that we can accept so book your animals early by calling 306-933-5200. For sale rules and information please visit our events page at www.sksheep.com.
The SSDB annual Advanced Sheep Production Course will be held on November 19-20, 2021. This is a two-day course designed for sheep producers with sheep production experience. Course attendance will be limited to 25 participants to allow for good interaction and a positive learning experience. Don’t be disappointed, register today. A $50 non-refundable deposit is required to hold a spot, you may register by phoning the Saskatchewan Sheep Development Board at (306) 933-5200. For more details and course outline visit our events page on our website www.sksheep.com .
We are planning for an in-person SSDB Symposium and AGM January 14-15, 2022, at the Ramada Hotel in Saskatoon. Mark your calendars and watch for more details in the October issue of Sheep Shape and on our website. We trust that once again we can fill the room with sheep producers.