Seasonal reproduction of sheep limits the natural breeding season to the short-days of fall and early winter and has framed the conventional management system of breeding ewes in the fall with lambing occurring in the spring. The traditional fall-breeding, spring-lambing (FBSL) lamb production system exposes producers to increased financial and marketing risks associated with seasonally low prices. Producers practicing traditional FBSL systems also have higher production risks of increased lamb mortality and morbidity associated with lambs grazing pastures in spring and summer when predation and parasitism are highest. Further, the traditional lamb production system limits productivity to one lamb crop annually. We have successfully used assisted reproductive technologies to strategically shift the breeding and lambing season of 65-85% of ewes treated, allowing producers to capitalize on seasonally higher prices while reducing losses associated with parasitism and predation. Preliminary analyses indicate that the additional returns significantly exceed any additional feeding and management cost associated with “out-of-season” breeding (OSB). A survey conducted to assess the adoption potential of this risk management strategy indicated that 30% of WV producers currently practice OSB, with 76% indicating they were satisfied with the results. The number of producers reducing their inventory over the last 3 years was smaller and the number of producers planning to increase their inventory in the future was higher among producers practicing OSB compared to producers practicing FBSL only. OSB might be an effective risk management strategy to help sheep producers survive in an industry that is increasingly competitive.
|Conference||2013 Extension Risk Management Education National Conference|