The Wyoming Wool Growers Association (WWGA) presented its Amigo Award to Frank Galey, dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Wyoming, citing support of sheep research and outreach programs for producers.
The WWGA announced the award during its joint meeting with Idaho and Utah woolgrowers last month. The WWGA’s executive board decides recipients, said Bryce Reece, WWGA executive vice-president.
The college conducts an annual ram test, installed a sheep GrowSafe feeding system, which allows data collection on an individual animal while in a feedlot with other livestock, and entered into an agreement with the WWGA in late 2011 to house the Von Krosigk Targhee flock at the Laramie Research and Extension Center (LREC).
“Frank has fought pretty hard for us,” said Reece. “The discussion around the table was that few universities are even interested in doing sheep anything any more. Frank has not only maintained sheep activities, but it’s still a strong program.”
Research results are shared with producers.
“We just completed the 12th ram test with UW, and the college stepped up when we approached them when we saw the GrowSafesystem coming into use and how important that turned out to be for the cattle industry,” said Reece.
The beef GrowSafe system, installed at the James C. Hageman Sustainable Agriculture Research and Extension Center near Lingle a few years ago, provides feed rations and collects data on individual animals without animals being isolated.
“UW went out and bought a sheep Growsafe system – the only one of its kind in the world specifically engineered and designated for sheep,” said Reece.
The sheep GrowSafe system was installed at the LREC near Laramie.
Data from the feed efficiency research is yielding important information for producers, he said.
“We are getting tremendous data from that,” said Reece. “As in all things having to do with new areas of research and technology, it’s causing us to ask a lot more questions than we had answers for. We are starting to see, in rams coming off the tests, a five-fold difference between the most efficient and least efficient. That’s a lot of money. The GrowSafe system is another thing for which Frank has been a strong proponent.”
When Reece heard Dean and Charleen Von Krosigk of Riverton might be selling their Targhee sheep flock, he asked if they were interested in forging an agreement for the WWGA to buy the flock.
“The reason being I knew the demand out there for those and what would happen if word went out they were for sale,” he said. “I was worried they would leave Wyoming.”
Targhee sheep were developed for wool and lamb production in the Rocky Mountain region. The Van Krosigk flock started as a 4-H project for their children. Their children grew up, and the couple continued the flock.
“It is arguable it is the number one Targhee flock,” said Reece. “Others might argue, but it’s undeniable no one has had more national champions than that flock.”
The WWGA then approached UW.
“The Von Krosigk family had decided to get out of the business and had three goals for the flock: keep the flock in Wyoming; keep the flock together; and continue to have the genetics of the flock available to the sheep industry in Wyoming,” said Doug Zalesky, LREC director.
WWGA owns the sheep, and UW provides housing and the day-to-day management of the herd. Proceeds are split, and the herdgenetics are offered to the sheep industry through ram sales.
The arrangement is a win-win for the WWGA and UW.
“Benefits to UW are access to one of the premier flocks of Targhee sheep in Wyoming and the U.S.,” Zalesky said, “the ability to utilize the sheep for teaching and for non-invasive research, and work with the woolgrowers in providing some of the best Targhee genetics for the Wyoming sheep industry.”
Woolgrowers benefit by keeping the flockin the state, the genetics, and access to the research data/information that will help in continued, positive genetic progress, said Zalesky.