Another year has ended and I wish members the best in 2017; may 2017 be a great year for you, the SSDB and the lamb industry. 2016 was a better year for feed supplies than 2015, for the most part feed volumes are good, however in some cases quality is not. I encourage producers to feed test and know what adjustments if any are required for your feed rations. Proper nutrition plays an important role in the number of lambs produced so we are encouraging our members to work with a Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture Livestock Specialist and/or feed company nutritionist to ensure proper nutrition. Also, condition score your ewes frequently to make sure their condition is adequate for optimizing lamb and milk production. Once a ewe drops a condition score it is much harder and expensive to gain back the conditioning. I trust members recognized a common theme in SSDB activities in 2016 that will continue in 2017. Our activities focus on increasing lamb production through increased lambs marketed per ewe and through flock expansion. Examples of the activities to increase lambs produced per ewe include addressing the following issues: lamb mortality, Johnes, Maedia-visna, abortion, biosecurity/disease management. The SSDB is also trying to encourage producers to treat their flocks as a unit, with less focus on individual animals. Prevention of disease is always less expensive and less labor intensive. One of the ways we are trying to achieve this is through development of a support system by way of access to sheep nutritionists and veterinarians. Activities to increase flock size include such things as the promotional video, communications and trade show attendance. I encourage our membership to take advantage of program deliverables and program funding that is available to them. The SSDB works hard to provide information on the program funding available, members need to take advantage of the available funding. Funding is made available through the Growing Forward 2 Programing and the SSDB. Current funding assist options include:
1. The Saskatchewan Sheep Biosecurity Program will provide producer funding of up to 50% eligible costs to a maximum of $1000 to be used to cover the cost of a veterinarian visit for the purposes of completing a flock and farm inspection and assisting the producer in creating a flock health biosecurity plan. This funding is available to producers upon completion of biosecurity training which is currently available in the classroom setting and will be available on-line in the next months. Farm-level biosecurity is about a series of management practices designed to minimize and/or prevent the introduction and spread of disease on your farm. It's not about creating a sterile environment or eradication of all disease.
2. An additional component of the Saskatchewan Sheep Biosecurity Program is up to $200 to assist in paying the necropsy costs of a lamb/fetus that appears to have been aborted. Abortion is an issue for many producers and the SSDB is here to assist members in identifying the abortion issue on their farms and then with the help of their veterinarian address the issue.
3. We encourage producers to take a good look at a RFID Management System to assist them in managing their flocks. There is a 70% rebate available through the Voluntary Trace-back when you purchase RFID readers and software system.
4. Saskatchewan On Farm Food Safety Program funding up to $750 rebate on select equipment if training workshop is completed.
5. Farm Business Development and Training, up to $10,000 per applicant to develop business plans and develop business skills.
6. Farm and Ranch Water Infrastructure Program helps Saskatchewan producers develop secure water supplies for agriculture purposes.
7. Farm Stewardship Program, funding available to implement beneficial management practices to protect the environment. The goal of the SSDB is to create a positive environment for lamb production in Saskatchewan. Our goal is to continue many of the current activities in 2017. The SSDB has put a lot of thought and energy into our strategic plan. We have in place several programs and activities that support production and profitability growth. There is much more that could be done, however; financial resources will continue to limit SSDB activities. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Gord at 306-933-5582 or email firstname.lastname@example.org