First UW wool judging team in years preps for National Western Stock Show

Student examines wool from a fleece
Juan Gavette from Everson, Wash., evaluates a fleece staple.

Finding a wool judging team at the University of Wyoming only makes sense with the state being one of the top five wool producers in the nation.

But 18 years have passed since there has been any record of a wool judging team.

Led by Whit Stewart, an assistant professor in the Department of Animal Science and UW Extension sheep specialist, the newly created wool judging team is preparing to compete at the National Western Stock Show (NWSS) in Denver Jan. 17.

Stewart coached two wool judging teams as part of his assistantship while working on his doctorate at New Mexico State University. This is primarily where he gained his collegiate coaching experience, he noted. Stewart also co-coached a 4-H wool judging team in Gillette while working for UW Extension in Campbell County.

He said creating the team complements efforts to keep the sheep program.

“When we look toward attracting students in the college of ag, those sheep-specific students who have a real interest in sheep production, this is a great competition for them because it’s based on real industry standards,” said Stewart. “It’s something that complements their education, their oral articulation skills, their ability to reason through a challenge and use logic.”

The 13-member UW team has two assistant coaches, Katie Hazlewood and Bryce McKenzie.

Different types of wool have different uses. Competitors must identify and attribute a value to different types of wool as part of the judging.

There are three components to the contest.

Grading reel

Students examine 15 different fleeces (one fleece is the wool off one sheep for a year’s worth of growth) in the grading reel. They identify the micron of the wool, which tells how fine the wool is and its uses, such as “next-to-skin,” outwear, carpets or blankets.

Then they identify the clean yield on the fleece, which is a percentage range. There are also length requirements as well as character and purity designations. All of these factors relate to the industry and the value of the fleece. This first part of the contest is worth the majority of the points.

Commercial and breed classes Continue reading First UW wool judging team in years preps for National Western Stock Show

Eighteen sessions at Wyoming-Utah Ag Days in Evanston

Wyoming-Utah Ag Days are Wednesday-Thursday Jan. 30-31 at the Roundhouse in Evanston.

Sessions both days are 10 a.m.-3 p.m.           

            “With many different breakout sessions to choose from, there is a lot to learn,” said Bridger Feuz, University of Wyoming Extension educator based in Uinta County. The program is in collaboration with Utah State University Cooperative Extension.

Wednesday sessions include beef quality assurance, body condition scoring, cheat grass, riparian grazing, using control burns to improve rangeland dominated by sagebrush, the economic value of winter forages, ATV use in agriculture and a bovine viral diarrhea discussion.

The Wyoming-Utah Ag Days schedule is displayed.            Feuz, extension livestock marketing specialist, will forecast the market outlook during the Wednesday lunch. John Madany will discuss the book “Defending Beef – The Case for Sustainable Meat Production,” by Nicolette Hahn Niman during lunch Thursday.

Thursday sessions include ag legacies, the small acre water guide, conservation techniques to increase grazing potential and natural resources, common mistakes in pasture management, sheep management strategies, cull cow marking and a meat cutting demonstration.

Participants can attend any or all of the sessions but must RSVP to be included in the lunch sessions, said Feuz.

To reserve a meal for the lunch sessions, call 307-783-0570 by 9 a.m. Jan. 28 and please leave a message if you get the voice mail, said Feuz.

Five-session program in Powell focuses on women in agriculture

Jeremiah Vardiman

University of Wyoming Extension is offering Annie’s Project this January through March in Powell.

Annie’s Project is a five-class program for women in agriculture. Based on the life of a farm woman in Illinois, this series helps empower women in agriculture to be better business partners through networks and by managing and organizing critical information, said Jeremiah Vardiman, UW Extension educator in Powell.

This is for any and all women in agriculture, he said.

“That means women in commercial agriculture, a spouse of an operation, farmers markets, agriculture service, agriculture industry or non-traditional agriculture,” said Vardiman.

The first class, which is two sessions, is Saturday, Jan. 19, and will focus on communication in a multigenerational operation. Part two is Jan. 26. Class three will focus on food for profit Feb. 16. The last two classes on Feb. 23 and March 2 are related to ag resource programs and family health and wellbeing.

All classes are 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Nelson House, 550 College Dr. Lunch is served at each class. Each session requires a $10 fee at time of registration.

Classes are limited to the first 20 participants who register. Those who attend all five classes will receive a soft-shell jacket.

To register, go to or contact the Powell extension office at 307-754-8836 or the Cody office at 307-527-8560.