From the sale of AgriLife Cedar Eaters to the message of “build trust with the modern customer,” there was something new to see or learn for all who attended the Texas A&M AgriLife Research 48th Annual Sheep and Goat Field Day and the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service 2021 Texas Sheep and Goat Expo in San Angelo.
This year’s events saw a record-setting crowd of over 350 sheep and goat producers from across Texas, and as far away as Iowa and California, attend. The expo is the largest event of its kind in the U.S.
The only part of the 2021 program that remained virtual was the Texas Performance Sheep and Goat Production Sale.
Texas Sheep and Goat Expo
After a year that saw strengthening meat prices for both goats and sheep, the discussion of what is driving the markets was a key topic for the expo. The event delved into both traditional and non-traditional markets, with speakers adding their insights to help producers make important herd and flock decisions moving forward.
“The sheep and goat market in Texas has been very strong over the past year,” said Reid Redden, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension sheep and goat specialist and Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center director, San Angelo. “At webinars earlier this year, we provided information on recent factors that could explain the current market trends and how that may translate to the future. At the expo, we were able to elaborate on some of that information and share updated information and the key messages with our large audience.”
Additionally, Texas A&M AgriLife and other industry experts spent the two days discussing the latest on wool sheep, hair sheep, club lambs, meat goats and Angora goats in sessions held throughout the day.
Educational sessions, Angora announcement
Concurrent sessions allowed producers to tailor their expo experience to the type of sheep or goat they produced and to learn from the leaders in those fields.
The highlight of the Angora session was the Mohair Council of America announcing the development of the American Mohair Assurance Program. Carlon Stapper, president of the Mohair Council of America, explained the program is a voluntary set of standards for Angora producers to collectively abide by to assure the public of ethical mohair production practices. The stated goal is to build trust with the modern customers and increase the usage of American mohair.
“Participants were very impressed with all the different sessions available to choose from, whether they were interested in wool sheep, hair sheep, Angora goats, club lambs or meat goats” said Robert Pritz, AgriLife Extension regional program leader and event coordinator, San Angelo. “All the sessions were very well attended and, depending on their operation’s needs and focus, they could tailor a curriculum aligned with what would be the biggest benefit for them.”
“The highlight of the online sale ended up being the sale of six AgriLife Cedar Eaters, ACE goats, that were a last-minute addition to the offering,” said Jake Thorne, AgriLife Extension sheep and goat program specialist, San Angelo.
The goats averaged $516 apiece. Thorne said some will stay in Texas in Ozona while others are headed for Coalville, Utah.
AgriLife Research spent years developing goats that would consume and thrive on cedar as a major part of their regular diet. ACE goats are genetically able to tolerate and digest the foul-tasting, stomach-upsetting chemicals, terpenes, that junipers produce to deter grazers. ACE goats help in the biological control of unwanted woody plants.
Dorper, Katahdin and Rambouillet rams were also attractive sale options for producers looking to add breeding genetics to their programs. All rams had National Sheep Improvement Program estimated breeding values for a variety of economically important traits such as growth, parasite resistance, prolificacy and wool quality.
“The online format worked really well for us last year, as it allowed for buyers to bid on animals even if they weren’t able to join us in person in San Angelo,” said Thorne. “The success of that format again this year affirms that online is an attractive option for buyers.”
Attendees at the annual Sheep and Goat Field Day learned of latest research related to sheep and goats being conducted by AgriLife Research, including predation management and the use of technology.
Experts shared information on choosing the correct forage varieties, lamb finishing diets, sheep and goat ticks, and near-infrared spectroscopy test services.
Redden said it was the largest crowd he’d seen at the field day.
The morning-long event culminated with a presentation on Texas A&M AgriLife’s 100-plus years of involvement and innovation in the wool industry.