Sarto Sheep Farms
Sheep Sense
Manitoba Sheep Association Quarterly Newsletter
October 2017
MSA Board Update

The MSA chair Jonathan Nichol has recently resigned from the board. We thank Jonathan for all his hard work and dedication as chair, his work with our Sheep Sense newsletter and time spent as a director previously. The vice-chair Sheri Bieganski has taken the lead for the moment, we would like to elect a new chair person after the AGM.

The Interlake and Central regions currently do not have directors. Contact the office if you are interested in the position or have someone to nominate.

The board of directors have had monthly meetings through the summer because so much has been going on. We had the show and sale in August to organize. We are preparing to hire an executive director starting in the new year. We have also been looking for more marketing options for our members and have been researching how to create a voluntary lamb marketing board in our province. The board will have some work to do on updating our bylaws to allow for a marketing board. We will keep you updated on our progress. And in the meantime, please attend a local meeting in your area to learn more. (Dates and locations are posted further on in the newsletter.)

The Manitoba Sheep Association is progressing and growing, as is the industry. We are here for you if you have any questions, concerns, or comments. Have a good fall and hope to see you at the Annual General Meeting on November 18.
Guy Bouchard
on behalf of the MSA Board of Directors

Manitoba Sheep Association's
Marketing and Economic Development Plan

To enhance the Manitoba sheep producers' competitiveness in today's markets; the Manitoba Sheep Association Board would like to provide its members, the option of the MSA to 'broker' their lambs and sheep on the open market. This follows the strategic plan "Vision 2020", a document, to grow the Manitoba sheep industry, including greater market access for the producers of Manitoba.   

Over the last few months the MSA board had been negotiating with the Saskatchewan Sheep Development Board to form an agreement that would allow the producers of Manitoba the ability to market their sheep through the Saskatchewan marketing system. Unfortunately, the MSA was unsuccessful in attaining any equitable privileges.

In the firm belief that the Manitoba Sheep producers need more financially viable methods of marketing, the MSA board chose to investigate the option of creating the Manitoba Sheep Marketing Board that would meet the needs of our members.

The Manitoba Sheep Marketing Board would be completely
'VOLUNTARY,' becoming just another option, to sell lambs and sheep. This would allow Manitoba producers to make business decisions with fewer stringent government regulations typical of compulsory marketing agencies.

The Manitoba Sheep Marketing Boards' objective is to enhance participating member producers' prices and incomes, while reducing price variability. Obviously, higher net market profits will increase profitability. On behalf of Manitoba producers, the Manitoba Sheep Marketing Board would develop long term relationships with reliable buyers, which would be beneficial to all parties.

Other advantages to having a Manitoba Marketing Board:
  • Manitoba producers would know the market lamb/ cull sheep prices prior to loading and have a guaranteed payment in a timely fashion.
  • All of the Local, Regional and National statistics required for making good business decisions would be available at one source.
  • Manitoba producers would have increased marketing knowledge and access to education on marketing and market demands.
  • The MSA and the Manitoba Marketing Board would become a Bonded Licensed Broker.
  • The producers of smaller flocks can have the advantage of being part of a larger load.
  • Manitoba Producers will have regular shipping opportunities.
  • Manitoba producers will still have a choice to sell elsewhere.
  • The Marketing Board will operate under the regulatory structure of the Manitoba Agriculture Producers Fund Act.

To proceed, the MSA will need to include "Marketing" in its purpose, in the form of a "Marketing Board" within the Articles of Incorporation.  As a member your input and vote matters and you are invited to the local district meetings to learn more:

EAST DISTRICT: Tuesday, Oct 10, 2017, 7 PM. @ Pat Porter                           
     Active Living Centre, Fireside rm, 10 Chrysler Gate  
         (South end of Steinbach, along Hwy #12)                                                      
 Annual Regional Meeting.

CENTRAL DISTRICT: , Saturday Oct 21, 2017, 10 AM. @ Rosenfeld, MB
     **See information for upcoming farm tour in the following 'Upcoming Events' section;  Meeting will be held immediately following the tour.                                                    

INTERLAKE DISTRICT: Monday Oct 23, 2017: 7 PM.    
          @ Manitoba Ag Offices, 77 Main St, Teulon, MB.          

Guest Speaker: Dr Neil Versavel "Recognizing and Treating Diseases in Sheep"

           @ Super 8, 1570 Highland Ave, Brandon, MB. (South side of hwy 1 Near A&W)

Guest Speaker: Linda Fox "Breeding Management"

WESTERN DISTRICT: Thursday Oct 26, 2017: 7 PM.   
          @ Manitoba Ag Offices, Hwy 21, Hamiota, MB.   
                 (Westside, North of the High school)                                                             
Guest Speaker: DR Cathy Clemence.  "The Ram Protocol"

NORTHWEST DISTRICT: Saturday Oct 28, 2017: 1-4 PM @  
           Super 8, 1457 Main St, S. Dauphin, MB.

Guest Speaker: Dr Cathy Clemence. "The Ram Protocol"

For Further Information, please contact:
Angela Adamson-Viola@ 204 796 0384                                                                               


Upcoming Events
Farm Tour, October 21:
We have a farm tour happening Saturday October 21, 10:00 am at Klaas Friesen's farm near Rosenfeld. Come visit the new barn and facilities at a growing lambing to finish intensive sheep farm. Klaas will over winter 600 ewes, has a goal of growing to 1500 ewes and lambing year round. After the tour, there will be a presentation regarding the proposed voluntary Manitoba Marketing Board and Rob Berry will be with us to give a short talk on what services MB Ag can provide for sheep producers. $10 registration fee includes lunch. Please register by Thursday October 19 by contacting the MSA office at or phone (204) 421-9434.

Annual General Meeting and Symposium, November 18:
Make sure to join us November 18 for our AGM and Symposium. Location will be Stride Place, Portage La Prairie. (Address: 245 Royal Rd S, Portage) Please register by November 13.
The agenda is packed; You won't want to miss it!
Click here for a schedule and registration information:
MSA AGM will include:
  • Revision of MSA By-laws
  • Voting of Resolutions
  • Vote on establishing a Voluntary MSA Sheep Marketing Board
Not all Speakers and Presentations are confirmed. Please see website and Facebook for updates as they are confirmed and further information.

Show and Sale
We held our annual show and sale in Carberry this summer. We had a good turnout of both purebred and commercial entries.  Commercial pens were judged on Friday, and a full course lamb dinner followed with a speech by Rob Berry. Saturday morning held the show with James Hewson judging and the sale followed in the afternoon with good attendance. We enjoyed the nice facilities and set-up the Carberry Fairgrounds offers. We also were pleased to put the penning to use that the MSA has recently purchased. Thank you to all the hardworking volunteers and participants. We are looking forward to next year!     
Show & Sale Results and Averages:
Top Seller North Country Cheviot  Ram Lamb $ 650.00 13 Ram lambs sold; average $392.00  Cdn Arcott ( 1)  $450.00 Dorset (4) average $418.75; High Seller $500.00 North Country Cheviot  (1) $650.00 Suffolk (5) average $465.00: High Seller $525.00

Top Seller Shropshire Yearling Ram $ 475.00 2 Yearling Rams sold Average $ 462.50 Shropshire (1) $ 475.00 Dorset (1) $450.00

Suffolk (1) $400.00

10 pens sold;  High Seller $700.00/pen;  Average $ 555.00/ pen

8 pens sold ; High Seller $810.00 /pen ; Average $754.00/pen

1 sold  $310.00
6 sold : average $ 226.00
Mixed Breed Ram Lamb:
1st- Cross Creek Farms
2nd- Gork Farms
Yearling Ram:
1st - Sherreff Stock Farms
Ram Lamb:
1st-Furze Farms
2nd-Cross Creek
3rd-Shereff Stock Farms
Ewe Lamb:
1st-Garwen Farm
2nd-Garwen Farm
Yearling Ram:
1st-Red Willow
2nd-Red Willow
Yearling Ewe:
1st-Red Willow
2nd-Red Willow
Yearling Ram:
1st-Shereff Stock Farms
Ram Lamb:
1st-Linda Westman
2nd-Furze Farms
3rd-Linda Westman
Ewe Lamb:
1st-Neil Versavel
Champion Ram: $350 - Shereff Stock Farms
Reserve Champion Ram: $125 - Cross Creek Farms
Champion Ewe: $200 - Neil Versavel
Reserve Champion Ewe: $100 - Garwn Farm
Pen of Two:
Grand Champion: $200 - Cross Creek Farms
Reserved Champion: $100 - Seven Pines Ranch
1st - Seven Pines Ranch
2nd - Micaela Spenser
3rd - Micaela Spenser
Ewe Lamb:
1st - Cross Creek Farms
2nd - Shereff Stock Farms
Pen of Three:
Grand Champion: $200 - Shereff Stock Farms
Reserved Champion: $100 - Cross Creek Farms
1st - Shereff Stock Farms
2nd - Seven Pines Ranch
3rd - Seven Pines Ranch
Ewe Lamb:
1st - Cross Creek Farms
2nd - Micaela Spenser
3rd - Ken McLaren
Jackpot Ewe Lamb:
1st: $100 - Seven Pines Ranch
2nd: $50 - Seven Pines Ranch
3rd - Furze Farms
Jackpot Market Lamb:
1st: $200 - Gork Farms
2nd: $100 - Shereff Stock Farms
3rd: $50 - Furze Farms
CSBA Report
Unfortunately the C.S.B.A has had to announce that Stacey White will be transitioning out of the position of General Manager. The C.S.B.A is currently accepting applications for the position and details are on the website.

Pink Ketchum Kurl-Lock tag is being revoked at the end of October. The tag was one of the initial tags introduced in 2004. Animals will need to have one of the current CSIp approved tags to leave the farm.
Premis ID uptake in Manitoba still continues to be one of the best in the country. Well done!!

C.S.B.A has introduced a Junior Director position. Interested applicants can find out more on the website.

2017 All Canada Classic was held at Westerner Park, Alberta. The three day event saw 74 consignors representing 16 breeds. Buyers from 8 provinces took home 326 of the 344 animals offered for sale. During the event the C.S.B.A and C.S.F host a Mexican delegation who toured local farms and Sungold along with attending the Classic.
2018 All Canada Classic will be in Truro, N.S July 5-7
2018 C.S.B.A AGM will be in Moncton, N.B  Saturday March 17
Hoping everyone has enjoyed their summer.

If you have suggestions on what you would like to see for the Purebred Industry in Manitoba and Canada please contact me.

 Sarah Lewis

Update on Anaplasmosis and Scrapie

Dr Wayne Tomlinson : Extension Veterinarian, Manitoba Agriculture

Manitoba has seen its share of reportable and notifiable diseases over the past few months. Diseases like Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea in pigs, anaplasmosis of cattle, Equine Infectious Anemia in horses and scrapie in goats seem to appear in the news headlines on a regular basis. This article will deal with a couple that are of interest to sheep producers.

First, is the case of anaplasmosis in southeastern Manitoba. Anaplasmosis is a disease caused by a small parasites that infects red blood cells. The parasite in this case is Anaplasma marginale. A. marginale causes anaplasmosis in cattle and can affect other ruminants including wild ruminants such as deer, elk and bison. While sheep maybe infected by A. marginale, it is not a common occurrence. Sheep appear to be more resistant to A. marginale than cattle. During the 2009/2010 Anaplasmosis outbreak in Manitoba, sheep were tested on farms that were in close proximity to or from farms that had positive cattle, no sheep were identified as positives for the disease. Cases of naturally occurring infection of sheep with A. marginale have not been reported in Manitoba.  Based on the information published about A. marginale in sheep and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's (CFIA) experience with testing sheep for A. marginale in 2009/2010, the CFIA considers the risk of infection in sheep to be negligible.
Anaplasma ovis is the specific parasite in sheep and goats. As stated above, A. marginale is unlikely to infect sheep and similarly A. ovis does not infect cattle. A. ovis infection in sheep and goats is typically asymptomatic.  Because A. ovis does not usually show any clinical signs, the disease has never been a reportable disease in Canada. Also, little research has been done on prevalence of A. ovis in Canadian flocks.
The source of any anaplasma infection is always the blood of an infected animal. The incubation period is generally 3-4 weeks with tick-borne infection. Recovery from an acute infection in sheep results in persistent carriers of the parasite that can then be a source of infection to other sheep. The disease is not directly contagious from sheep to sheep. Only by transferring blood from an infected sheep can it be transmitted to a naïve sheep. The natural vector for spread of the infection is the ixodes family of hard bodied ticks like the "wood tick".  
Effective April 1, 2014, anaplasmosis caused by A. marginale, was changed from being a reportable disease in Canada to being an immediately notifiable disease. This means control actions are no longer undertaken by the CFIA and no compensation is paid for infected animals.

The second disease of recent interest is scrapie. Scrapie is a fatal disease that affects the central nervous system of sheep and goats. It belongs to the family of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE). Other TSEs include bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in cattle, chronic wasting disease in deer and elk and Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease in humans. According to Health Canada, there is no known link between scrapie and human health. The infectious agent of the TSEs is an abnormal form of a protein called a prion. Normal prions are present in all animals. When an abnormal prion enters a healthy animal, it alters existing prions and changes them into the disease-associated form. These prions cause changes in brain and nerve tissue. When brain tissue from an infected animal is examined under a microscope, the tissue appears to have holes in it. It looks like a "sponge" hence the name "spongiform encephalopathy".
There are two forms of scrapie, classical scrapie and atypical scrapie. Atypical scrapie is thought to be a spontaneous degenerative condition of older sheep and is not believed to transmit to animals under natural conditions. Classical scrapie looks the same under a microscope and has the same clinical signs but the prion can be transmitted to other animals.
In Canada, classical scrapie is a reportable disease under the Health of Animals Act. This means that all suspected cases must be reported to the CFIA for immediate investigation. The CFIA is then responsible for disease investigation, control measures and compensation.
Scrapie is a disease that develops slowly. Clinical signs are only seen in adult animals, typically between two and five years of age, and in some animals, the disease has taken up to eight years to develop. However, once an animal appears ill, it will typically die within a few months.
Signs vary tremendously between cases of scrapie. It can vary from weight loss and poor body condition to classical symptoms that include intense itching where sheep will pull their own wool out. Sheep may also show signs associated with brain disease such as aggression, apprehension, tremors, incoordination or abnormal gaits. While there is no link between scrapie and human health, rabies can cause similar changes in behavior so extreme caution must be used when handling sheep with behavioral changes.
Due to the insidious nature of  scrapie, owners of scrapie infected animals may be unaware that there is a problem with their flock. Over time, owners may experience significant production and animal losses. Infected animals sold from these herds/flocks can spread the disease to other herds/flocks.
Animals become infected with classical scrapie through exposure to other scrapie-infected animals and their scrapie-contaminated environment. Infectious prions have been found in the milk, feces, saliva and urine of infected animals so transmission may also occur by these routes. Scrapie is most commonly spread from an infected female to her offspring or other animals exposed to the birth environment. Fluid and tissue from the placenta can contain large quantities of infectious scrapie prions. Healthy animals become infected by eating or licking any contaminated material in the birth environment. Newborn lambs and kids are very susceptible to infection when born into a contaminated environment.
There is no treatment or vaccine currently available for this fatal disease.
There is the Voluntary Scrapie Flock Certification Program (VSFCP). Information on the VSFCP can be found at  
Producers that have questions or concerns about scrapie should contact their flock veterinarian.

`What Does the Canadian Sheep Federation Do?
by Kate Basford
What does the Canadian Sheep Federation do and why is it so important to all sheep producers in Canada to have a national voice that speaks for all sheep producers and involves industry stakeholders in its discussions and decision making process?
The Canadian Sheep Federations' purpose is to deal with issues that affect sheep producers on a national and international level, such as trade and market access, business risk management, traceability, food safety, availability of medications and vaccines, animal welfare, disease control and eradication such as scrapie, just to name a few.

Many of these issues require a direct working relationship with the Federal government as well as other industry stakeholders. Hence the importance of a unified voice that truly echoes sheep producers across the country, regardless of the size of their operations, the size of their province or where they are located in Canada.
Many sheep producers in Manitoba and Canada for that matter are unaware of what is happening on a national level to the Canadian sheep industry. 

In July of 2016, without notice or providing reasons, Ontario Sheep Marketing Agency and the Alberta Lamb Producers pulled out of the CSF and formed the National Sheep Network with Quebec (which withdrew about 9 years ago) and claiming to be the voice of the Canadian Sheep Industry. This has caused much disruption, confusion and a setbacks for the Canadian Sheep Industry as a whole. The CSF has made several attempts to sit down with the Network to determine the issues of their withdrawal and to make attempts to rectify the current situation, the network has refused to enter into discussion.

In September, I had the opportunity to attend the National Sheep Industry Meeting in Toronto to discuss this very issue with producer representatives from all the provinces including that of the National Sheep Network and well as industry stakeholders like the CWG and CSBA, who also represent sheep producers and to try to come to some resolve as there can't be two national voices representing the Canadian sheep industry and dealing with the federal government etc. As a group, we discussed priorities in the Canadian sheep industry on a national level. Although the group was basically on the same page as for priorities, it was how one was going to achieve these was very different. The network is very unstructured, unconventional with no rules or policies and very autocratic while the CSF is a structured incorporated entity with rules and polices etc. and are interested in working with all the industry stakeholders and include all sheep producers and provinces large or small and able to administer programming such as traceability, scrapies, verified sheep program etc.

In April, 2017, I joined the CSF board, sitting on the traceability committee, sustainability committee, and the Market Access working group. In theory I knew what CSF was about and what they do, but I had no idea to the extent and the depth of the work CSF does through its executive director and its volunteer board for all Canadian sheep producers.

I walked away from this meeting, with a better understanding of the dynamics of the situation.  The network did site some issues such as communications, transparency, which CSF is taking steps to rectify and do a better job, but what I find ironic... the network has virtually no communications or transparency at all.  

CSF has worked over the years to deal with the national issues of the Canadian Sheep Industry and the evolution of the sheep value chain. Today, huge opportunities exist to grow markets, increase value for all stakeholders, and secure the prosperity of the industry for the future.
CSF continues to work, with the seven remaining provinces paying for the national organization, in the interest of the entire sheep industry. Prior to the other provinces leaving, all producers in each provinces paid the same per sheep and bearing the cost equally, the only difference was how the monies was collected in Manitoba we have check-off and 25 cent per tag is collected by CWG and sent directly to CSF, whereas in Ontario and Alberta the monies are collected by the provincial association and then sent to CSF.

For me the answer is very clear... CSF continues to be the national voice of the Canadian sheep industry and working in the interest of the entire sheep industry. 

This article only reflects my opinions and thoughts not that of the MSA board or the CSF board and staff.
Manitoba Fibre Festival Update
Submitted by Manitoba Fibre Festival Organizers
The fifth annual Manitoba Fibre Festival on September 15 and 16 at Red River Exhibition Place was attended by over 1400 people including vendors, demonstrators, workshop participants, volunteers, and enthusiastic shoppers.
With over 60 vendors from Manitoba and Saskatchewan there was something for everyone interested in fibre arts; from raw fleeces to spinning tools, yarns of every colour imaginable; cozy hats and socks; wearable art felt vests and hand-dyed clothing; and so much more.
The sheep shearing demonstrations by Brian Greaves were very popular, as were Chef Karen Peters' demonstrations of cooking with lamb. 
We were pleased to offer the intensive "Wool Judging Level 1" course this year, taught by Susie Gourlay and sponsored by Canadian Cooperative Wool Growers. It filled up quickly with students from Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Nova Scotia including sheep farmers and fibre artists.  Susie also taught the half day class "Fleece to Finish" which is a great introduction to assessing fleeces for the hand spinners market.  The Festival offers this class every year to encourage local fibre producers to take advantage of this market, and to give spinners the knowledge they need to select and process raw fleeces.
The wool show was judged this year by Val Fiddler of Saskatchewan. The winners are posted on the website. There were 19 fleeces entered in the competition and sale, and another 20 un-judged fleeces were included in the silent auction. Only a couple of fleeces remained unsold at the end of the day. Sale prices ranged from $20 to $120 per fleece.  We would really love more fleeces in the show and sale next year! All breeds are welcome. 
T he Manitoba Fibre Festival is very grateful to the Manitoba Sheep Association for your ongoing financial support and encouragement.  Thank you!
Discovering Value in Wool
By Leah Bouchard
  Wool is an incredibly versatile natural fibre and has numerous amazing qualities. From literally repelling dirt and bacteria, being anti-allergenic, thermal, incredibly breathable , wool is also one of the most renewable and sustainable fibres available.
However, for the meat producer, wool often becomes a by-product that doesn't get a lot of attention. I recently attended a workshop at the Manitoba Fibre Festival, called 'From Fleece to Finish' taught by Susie Gourlay. "Many farmers just don't know how valuable their wool actually is," she told us. We spent the workshop learning about different types of wool,  how wool is graded both commercially and by the artisan, as well as uses and methods of preparing wool for a range of projects.
Value Added
There are many ways wool can bring extra value to a farmer. 'The artisan market will often pay a lot more for wool than commercial,' we were told. What may not be of any value to a commercial judge, such as black wool, may be in demand for crafters who would like to add some color. Crafters are also concerned with overall presentation, handle, and feel so a wide range of wool can be of interest.
Commercial buyers (such as CCWG) will likely pay less for wool than an artisan or crafter. However if a farmer learns how to grow a good fleece and follows simple cleaning and presentation guidelines, he may get considerably better prices. (CCWG Video on Maximizing Wool Cheque )
With a bit of creativity, a farmer may also be able to find interesting wool ventures and new markets on his/her own. I have been making and selling handmade wool duvets from our own wool for many years. Spinning, dryer balls, wool felt for clothing, felted soap, and even lanolin cream can all bring added value. New research shows that wool is an amazing garden fertilizer. Some people even insulate their cabins or houses with wool. Wool forms warm bedding for pets in the winter. There are countless diverse opportunities!
Different types of Wool
Different breeds produce different kinds of wool, so it's important for the farmer to know what kind of wool his/her sheep produce to know what it is best suited for.
Fine Wool is naturally soft, elastic and non itchy, suitable for clothing next to skin. It also felts extremely easily. Ramboullet and Merino are two breeds known for their fine wool.
Medium Wool is very versatile and many of the meat breeds have this type of wool. Medium wool is a good insulator and usually washes better than other wool. It makes good blankets, hats, sweaters, etc.
Long Wool is wool of choice of spinners as it is so long. Although not very soft, it can create amazing texture and is incredibly strong, making it a good choice for textiles. Breeds that produce long wool include Romney, Wensleydale, and Lincoln.
Specialty Wool is produced by special breeds. Carpet wool is used for carpets from Karakul or Scottish Blackface Sheep. There are also breeds that produce coloured fleeces such as Shetlands and Jacob Sheep.
Growing a Good Fleece
If a farmer wants bring added value to his flock with wool, it's imperative that he/she learns what a good fleece looks like and how to get one. Susie encouraged all sheep farmers to bring a fleece out to a show, get it graded, and learn from the experience.
There are some factors important to consider. Much of it can be influenced by breeding and nutrition.
Strength and soundness is very important, especially for crafts such as spinning. Broken fleeces have significantly less value and use. If you take a tuft of wool and pull it tight, it should remain strong like a cord, with very little stretch. Breakage signifies weakness.
Length of wool and evenness throughout the fleece is also important. Fine and medium wools should be at least 2 inches long, but usually several inches longer. Length may be dependent on the breed, but nutrition also plays a part. Length should be as even as possible throughout the fleece.
Cleanliness and presentation should also not be dismissed. If the wool is dirty and full of vegetable matter, it will lose significant amount of weight when washed and become more labour intensive to clean. It is important to skirt out the dirty clumps and stains before selling the wool.
Crimp and overall feel of the wool varies by breed. Learn what you should be looking for with your sheep. The wool should feel soft and comfortable to touch. Often dense crimp signifies very fine wool.
In conclusion, wool is a valuable and diverse natural fibre.  For the meat producer who wants to find more value in the wool their sheep are already producing, there are many different options, uses and markets to explore and it can be a rewarding learning experience!
For more information, check out these resources:
MSA website: Wool Information
'The Field Guide to Fleece' by Carol Ekarius & Deborah Robson
  'The Spinner's Book of Fleece' by Beth Smith and Deborah Robson
Importance of Ram Selection
Written by Angela Adamson-Viola; Shepherd/Dreamcatcher Farm, Manitoba, Canada.

           Choosing a ram is one of the most important business decisions a shepherd can make; after all he will be 50% of the lamb genetics. The breeding plan for a flock will be instrumental for improving the levels of performance, productivity and profitability. This can be complex and requires planning.  
  The Whole Package:
           Looking at a Ram should set ideas in motion for the farm. Is the shepherd trying to create a cross breeding program, that will ultimately enhance the lambs, breed, milk, wool or meat production? The genetic selection should support the desired result.
The Girls:
       The Ewes should have strong maternal traits. They should be easy to maintain, easy lambers, have strong lambs at birth, have great mothering instincts, with good milk (quantity and quality), and high lambing percentages.
The Boys:
           The Maternal Sire should bring the best breed standard that is lacking in the current pedigree stock or add to the positive attributes of maternal (same breed) commercial flock.
           The Terminal Sire (all offspring are sent to market-terminated), typically brings qualities to the flock for marketing purposes. Maximizing rate of gain, muscular carcass traits/lean meat yield, low fat, and uniform, strong, feed efficient market lamb production traits.
            If a wool producer is looking to improve fleece the quality of the sire picked would reflect that choice, whereas a meat producer would want to have the flock's offspring to be a fast growing, well muscled product. Both examples can have significant financial impact.
            Sometimes, replacement ewes are held back to increase the flock and that's okay, as long as the producer, recognizes that there will be a significant change in the maternal flock. The related ewes will need a new ram and breeding the new ewes back to a new Maternal sire will help keep those traits intact. Inbreeding can cause a whole lot of other issues!  
            Every breed has its own benchmarks, there is lots of info on the internet; try to get to know them.                                  
The Homework:
            Investing in the flock should be easy. Newsflash! It's not. Reflection is important:
  •  Finishing lambs is a relative term used loosely to describe "When does the producer want the lambs to go to market?" This can depend on what target market is being aimed at.
  • How quickly have the lambs finished for the past/present production model? 3-4 months? 5-6 months? Are they?  60-70Lbs? Or 71-80Lbs?  Remember, the longer a market lamb is on the farm the more money it costs. 
  • When are the lambs weaned? How good was the mother's milk? Are the lambs efficient on feed?
  • Recognizing and adjusting the breeding, feeding and weaning production systems on a yearly basis.
  • To help determine the Terminal breeds specific characteristics needed to compliment the current ewe flock production strengths, see the:  "Lakeland Carcass Sire Project".
The SIX "T's" to picking your Ram:
TOES - Up on his pasterns, well shaped feet, no smell or heat (could indicate disease).No lameness especially in an older Ram, his gait should be steady and rhythmic.
TEETH - All are present, bite is even and onto the top pad. Feel along the outside for tenderness, swelling can indicate dental issues. BEWARE: if he has an under/overbite stay clear this defect can be passed on and will affect the lambs' ability to eat.
TESTICLES - Inspect the scrotum.  It should be firm not hard and large 30-40 cm depending on the breed. (Size has been proven to be directly correlated to the muscle gain in lambs). Free of sores or injuries and check for parasites.
TONE- Body score, between: 3.5 - 4. Not skinny or fat, though, he will lose some weight when he is working hard in a relatively short time.
TOSSLE - A great idea from New Zealand. Tip the Ram over extrude the penis, no scars or sores and the worm like appendage is attached. 
TREATMENTS -   Ask for his vaccination/worming status. Check carefully, the Rams' neck and shoulder skin for parasites (KEDS/LICE). Your flock, your money, so makes sure you check this!
The Purchase:
Farm Direct:
           See, firsthand, the management and the environment the Ram is used to.
Auctions and Show/Sales:
           Gives a wide range of Rams to choose from. It can also be a venue to spread diseases so have a quarantine plan in place.
           Bringing him home is exciting, the opportunity to improve the flocks output, a quick turn around to see the results of your decision. Hold that thought.... Remember he was just taken away from everything he knows, (sheep have a two year memory of faces and voices, proven by research) so he needs time to settle. Acclimation is key, a secure space with bedding, hay and water, add some grain if he's getting ready for breeding and it's a smooth trick for catching him. Give him a day, and then depending on the treatment protocol treat him accordingly. Watch for diseases in the next 21 days. No sniffing through the fences. He needs to be in peak condition, have minimal stress, shade, weather protection, best grazing and fresh water.  
              If there are older Rams at the farm, the new Ram needs to be introduced with care as they have been known to fight and cause serious injury, even death. If there is a particularly nasty Ram, then it's time to send him to the pasture in the sky.  This is too big an investment to lose. Be prepared to separate them, but most small groups will live happily together. If he's the only one, keep a wether as his buddy.
             A Mature Ram (2+ years) should service 80+ ewes in a breeding cycle (estrus 17 days) or 30-50 first timers (they tend to run away).
             An Inexperienced Ram is better off with the mature ewes; they have been known to chase him to get the job done.
             Smaller, level breeding paddocks are best suited for higher conception rates with good feed and water available.
             If dates are a priority then a Ram harness is definitely worth its weight in live lambs. One crayon per cycle (17 days) total 34 days. The second colour will show who was missed and what ewes didn't take the first time, and preparing for lambing is a lot easier. When changing his crayon check for rubbing sores.
A Job Well Done:    
          Once his job is finished, it's back to his buddies, in the bachelor pad. There may be a bit of a tussle but generally they settle down to good food and a well deserved break. Give him a good once over, treat anything suspicious; keep him on good quality hay to maintain his condition. Provide him with shelter from the elements and fresh water year round. Look after him and he will give you years of great service and if you need to change your genetics up, you will have a valuable asset to sell.  
I would like to thank the following contributors:
Carole Youngs, Practical Sheep, goats & alpacas magazine, UK; The Small holders' series.
Lakeland College, Lakeland carcass Sire Project; 2004- 2010
 Ontario Fact Sheet, Breeding options for a commercial flock; April 15, 2010         
 Dale F. Engstrom, P.Ag. Building Better Lambs; 1: Using Terminal Sires, 2010         


Sheep Herpes Virus; a rare rural social disease

 Terry Whiting DVM MSc
Manitoba Agriculture
204-545 University Crescent, Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada R3T 5S6
      Most sheep have Herpes virus; specifically, Ovine gammaherpesvirus 2 (OvHV-2). This virus causes no problems to the host sheep, but it is usually fatal when transmitted to cattle and other ungulates such as deer, antelope, and bison. For the most part, herpes viruses are very species specific.  They persist by inserting viral DNA into host cells allowing them to hide from the immune system. Bovine herpes virus 1 (BHV-1) which causes Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis (IBR) in feedlot cattle, also has a reproductive variant and is typical in behaviour of the Herpes family of viruses in mammals. The IBR virus is not infective to any other species.   
      OvHV-2 however, can infect other species than the sheep.  In non-sheep, the disease is often dramatic; characterised by fever, feed refusal, eye damage (which makes the cornea appear blue), eye and nasal discharge and death. In disease outbreaks in cattle or bison, (there is no disease in sheep) the outbreak is referred to as Malignant Catarrhal Fever (MCF). Usually only a small percentage of at risk cattle get sick. Often a single animal in the cattle herd is affected and years can pass between incidents; the reasons for this are unknown as cattle herd exposure to sheep flocks can be or is frequent.  There is not a lot of specific effort to separate sheep from cattle in Canada. Beef and dairy cattle and pigs are quite resistant to MCF and disease is rare in these species. North American Bison are more susceptible, showing no illness for up to two months after infection and bison usually die within three days of illness or symptoms being detected. A few infected animals may recover following mild clinical reactions. Some studies indicate that substantial numbers of susceptible non-sheep species may become infected without developing clinical disease.
      OvHV-2 appears to be transmitted by contact or aerosol, primarily by lambs and between lambs under 1-year old, adult sheep are usually infected non-shedders.
Incubation periods (infections without illness) after experimental inoculation of cattle are 2-12 weeks. Under natural conditions, non-sheep MCF-susceptible species generally are thought to be dead-end hosts that do not transmit the virus to other animals, which has the beneficial effect of limiting the spread of disease during outbreaks.
      Occasional quite severe MCF outbreaks in domestic cattle and bison have been reported.  In 2008 at a state fair in Washington, 19 of 132 show cattle co-housed in one barn died of sheep associated MCF.  The fair ran from Sept 18-21 and the first cattle deaths after returning home, occurred November 2 and risk of death lasted until January 2, 2009. Risk of death was not associated with distance from the sheep pens (1).
      In 2000, 45 of 163 bison (from 8 farms of origin) being held at a sale barn for auction in Saskatchewan died on the 7 farms they went to after auction. In this outbreak, on the second day of bison assembly, 211 lambs were assembled at the same auction market for transport to slaughter. They were separated by a solid wall from the bison. The death losses began on day 50 after the sale and peaked between days 60 and 70 and ended on day 220 (2).
In early 2003, an outbreak of malignant catarrhal fever (MCF) occurred in a bison feedlot in southern Idaho. The outbreak resulted in a 51% mortality rate among the 825 bison affected. The bison were exposed to sheep over a 19-day period. Bison deaths peaked between 41 and 55 days after exposure to sheep and reached a maximum of 41 head per day. Of the several thousand head of beef cattle in the lot during the outbreak, only a single case of MCF was identified (3).
      In Alberta in 2008, MCF caused by OvHV-2 occurred in ranch bison herds separated by significant distances from feedlot lambs. Mortality rates correlated with distances: 17.5%, 6.1%, and 0.43% at approximately 1.6, 4.2, and 5.1 km, respectively (4).
Sheep worldwide carry OvHV-2 without demonstrating any clinical disease. The disease can spread and cause substantial losses in North American Bison (Bison bison), Elk (Cervus elaphus), and Moose. Disease in pigs has been reported from several countries, but is most frequently recognised in Norway where incidents involving several animals regularly occur (5).
It appears that lambs are able to excrete the virus at a higher infectious volume than adult sheep. As this infections agent presents a financial risk to other farmers, especially the growing domestic bison industry the sheep industry needs to develop a good neighbour policy in the rural community.
With bison and farmed deer, every reasonable effort should be taken to segregate the management of sheep. Most scientific papers cite 3 km however that 'safe distance" is poorly documented. Cattle only rarely develop MCF, and thus are generally managed with sheep without taking precautions to guard against disease transmission. However, if multiple cases do occur in a cattle herd, it is essential to segregate the sheep flock as far as possible from cattle. There is some evidence that certain flocks are hyper-shedders (shedding not limited to the lambing and lamb infectious period) and may continue to be sources of infection for some years.

1. Moore DA, Kohrs P, Baszler T, Faux C, Sathre P, Wenz JR, et al. Outbreak of malignant catarrhal fever among cattle associated with a state livestock exhibition. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2010;237(1):87-92.
2. Berezowski JA, Appleyard GD, Crawford TB, Haigh J, Li H, Middleton DM, et al. An outbreak of sheep-associated malignant catarrhal fever in bison (Bison bison) after exposure to sheep at a public auction sale. J Vet Diagn Invest. 2005;17(1):55-8.
3. Li H, Taus NS, Jones C, Murphy B, Evermann JF, Crawford TB. A devastating outbreak of malignant catarrhal fever in a bison feedlot. J Vet Diagn Invest. 2006;18(1):119-23.
4. Li H, Karney G, O'Toole D, Crawford TB. Long distance spread of malignant catarrhal fever virus from feedlot lambs to ranch bison. The Canadian Veterinary Journal. 2008;49(2):183-5.
5. Vikøren T, Li H, Lillehaug A, Monceyron Jonassen C, Böckerman I, Handeland K. Malignant catarrhal fever in free-ranging cervids associated with OvHV-2 and CpHV-2 DNA. J Wildl Dis. 2006;42(4):797-807.
Recipe: Lamb Stock
1 lb lamb bones

2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
Thyme and Parsley

Spread the bones out on a large roasting pan and drizzle with a little olive oil. Roast at 425°F for about 45-60 minutes, turning the bones over halfway. (You can skip this step if you use bones that have been leftover from a lamb roast.)
Heat the oil in a large stockpot and add the vegetables and garlic, stirring until browned. Add the tomato paste and wine and boil until the liquid is reduced by half. Add the bones and pour in enough water to cover. Bring to a simmer and skim off the froth that rises to the surface.
Add the peppercorn and herbs. Simmer the stock for 4-6 hours. Let stand for a few minutes before straining the stock from vegetables and bones. Cool to room temperature, then pour into jars and refrigerate. Use within 5 days to make a delicious soup!
In This Issue
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Nominations for Directors at Large

This year, both Director at Large positions on the MSA are up for election by mailed ballot sent to all members.
MSA is seeking nominations in writing for Directors at Large by October 20, 2017 in order to have sufficient time for a mailed balloting to occur prior to the Annual General Meeting on November 18, 2017.
Written nominations can be sent via email to or mailed to MSA 5302 Clarence Road, Narol, MB, R1C 0B8.
For further information, contact MSA office at or 204-421- 9434

News Release
July 21, 2017

Agricultural Policy Framework Reached Today at Federal-Provincial-Territorial Meeting of Agriculture Ministers
The Manitoba government has signed onto the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, which sets out a new five-year agricultural policy framework beginning in April 2018, Agriculture Minister Ralph Eichler announced today.
"Our government is pleased to enter this new agreement and we look forward to the anticipated growth and advancement of agriculture in Manitoba as a result of this continued partnership," said Eichler.  "The
Canadian Agricultural Partnership will strengthen Canada's position as a leader in the global economy and greatly enhance opportunities for the sector in our province." 
The ministers of agriculture reached the new agreement today on the key elements of a new federal-provincial-territorial agriculture policy framework during the Annual Meeting of Ministers of Agriculture held in St. John's, N.L., from July 19 to 21. 
The Canadian Agricultural Partnership is a five-year, $3-billion investment that will come into effect on April 1, 2018.  The new framework will focus on six priority areas:

Science, research and innovation - to help industry use science and innovation to improve resiliency and increase productivity;
Markets and trade - opening new markets and helping farmers and food processors improve their competitiveness through skills development, improved export capacity, underpinned by a strong and efficient regulatory system;
Environmental sustainability and climate change - helping the sector reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions, protect the environment and adapt to climate change by enhancing sustainable growth while increasing production;
Value-added agriculture and agri-food processing - supporting the continued growth of the value-added agriculture and agri-food processing sector;
Public trust - building a firm foundation for public trust through solid regulations, improving assurance systems and traceability; and
Risk management - enabling proactive and effective risk management, mitigation and adaptation to create a resilient sector. 
Under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, business risk management programs will continue to help producers manage significant risks that threaten the viability of their farm and are beyond their capacity to manage.  Governments responded to industry concerns regarding eligible coverage under AgriStability, ensuring a more equitable level of support for all producers. 
Governments further committed to engaging in a review that explores options to improve business risk management programming.  The review will recognize the important role played by all programs in the risk management plans of producers given the diversity of the sector.  The review will also have an early focus on market risk as it relates to AgriStability addressing concerns regarding timelines, simplicity and predictability.  Ministers will be presented with options for consideration based on early findings of the review. 
Throughout the consultation process, Manitoba Sheep Association was involved in the federal and provincial levels of the development of the Canadian Agricultural Partnership. MSA's discussions included developing programming that would engage more producers to take advantage of this new programming available.  Some of the other topics were trade and market access, business risk management, environmental sustainability, soil health and improvements to local habitat, bio security, animal welfare, and food safety

Further details on the Canadian Agricultural Partnership can be found at


from Show & Sale 


News Release
September 5, 2017
Kirkland, QC, September 5th, 2017 - Zoetis announced today the availability for the GLANVAC 6, a vaccine for the use as an aid in prevention of caseous lymphadenitis (CLA or cheesy gland), enteroxaemia (pulpy kidney disease), tetanus, black disease, malignant oedema (blackleg like disease) and blackleg in sheep an lambs and swelled head in rams.

"With over 1 million sheep in Canada, it is imperative to provide a vaccine to protect against these common disease causing agents that can have a significant effect on flock health and productivity." comments Dr. Melanie WowK, Manager Veterinary Services - Cattle/Equine/Genetics Product Support.

Caseous lymphadenitis is a disease often referred to as CLA, or "cheesy gland". It is an infection primarily of the lymph nodes but it can affect internal organs such as the liver, lung, kidney, and spinal canal. Although abscesses are relatively common in most animal species, they usually occur sporadically, are often confined to individual animals, often occur following a puncture wound or injury, and they can be caused by a variety of bacteria such as streptococci and staphylococci that are common in all environments. Studies report incidence raters of CLA in sheep in Canada and the US ranging from 15 to 94%1,2,3. While incidence rates may vary by region, the disease is prevalent on all continents3. CLA is also a zoonotic disease. CLA is a chronic diseases and there is currently no effective treatment.

Prevention through vaccination is the best line of defense against CLA.

"Through a collaborative effort by sheep producer associations, veterinarians, the CFIA Canadian Centre for Veterinary Biologics (CCVB), and Zoetis we were able to bring Glanvac 6 to the Canadian market" comments Toni Bothwell, Director of Regulatory Affairs and Parmacovigilence at Zoetis Canada Inc. "Zoetis is proud to support the Canadian sheep industry and to build collaborative relationships with multiple industry stakeholders."

For more information about GLANVAC 6 and its role in flock health, contact your veterinarian and your Zoetis Territory Manager.

For more information about Zoetis, visit

News Release--September 15, 2017
Pink Ketchum Kurl-Lock tag to be revoked from CSIP by end of October
Ottawa, ON (September 15, 2017) - Canadian sheep farmers and ranchers should expect the pink metal Ketchum Kurl-Lock #3 tag to be revoked from the Canadian Sheep Identification Program (CSIP) at the end of October 2017.  In an upcoming meeting of national ID program administrators, stakeholders and government representatives scheduled for early October, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) will recommend revoking the pink metal Ketchum Kurl-Lock tag.  In a meeting earlier this week, the Canadian Sheep Federation Board of Directors elected to support the tag's revocation, as they considered a recommendation from the CSIP Working Group to do so.  
"As we begin to prepare for new traceability regulations expected to come into effect within the next two years, the Board felt it was time to revoke the tag" says Canadian Sheep Federation Chairman, Phil Kolodychuk, adding "we encourage producers to check their stock as they sell them to make sure they are compliant with the changes to the ID program once the pink metal Ketchum Kurl-Lock tag is revoked".
The pink metal Ketchum Kurl-Lock #3 tag, identified in CSIP as OVI-07-01, has been an approved identifier since CSIP became part of the Health of Animals Act back in 2004.  A decision to phase the tag out of the national ID program came in October 2011, when the tags were no longer offered for sale.  Since then, producers were encouraged to use what they had left of the tags with the reminder that the tag would eventually be revoked.  That day is near, and could happen as soon as the end of next month.  The official announcement on the status of the pink metal Ketchum Kurl-Lock tag is expected in early October.  The pink plastic Allflex tag (OVI-01-02) will remain CSIP approved, and provide a non-electronic tag option to producers who prefer a non-RFID tag.
Until the pink metal Ketchum tag is officially revoked, sheep farmers and ranchers may continue to ship animals that already have pink tags in them and even use up any tags they have left on the farm.  However, once the revocation date for the Ketchum tag arrives sheep leaving the farm will have to have one of the remaining approved program tags in their ear.  If you plan on shipping sheep that have a pink metal Ketchum tag in them after the revocation date, you will need to add an approved tag and report the new tag number to Canadian Cattle Identification Agency (CCIA) along with the number of the pink tag already on the animal.  You MAY NOT remove a pink metal Ketchum tag from a sheep or lamb even after the tag has been revoked, it is illegal.  

We have extended the deadline for John Hammerton scholarship to November 1. So if you are or know of a student involved in the sheep industry, this is a great opportunity to receive $500 towards your education! Check out our website on how to apply: Scholarship Information

Breeders Directory
Thank you to all who sent us your information for the breeders' directory on our website. It still needs some work! Please take a moment to look through it and send us an email to let us know if you would like to be added to the directory, stay in the directory, or have your information in the directory updated. We will be removing all outdated information shortly. Thanks for your input! Breeder's Directory


If you would like to advertise in the Sheep Sense newsletter, please contact us for the options and prices.



Manitoba Sheep Association | (204) 421-9434 | |
5203 Clarence Road
Narol, MB
R1C 0B8