UW Sheep Extension Specialist Excited About New Lamb-A-Year Program

November 22, 2022

The University of Wyoming and Wyoming Wool Initiative have launched the Cowboy State's first Lamb-a-Year program. Thanks to the generosity of 25 Wyoming producers and NexGen Feed Solutions, 143 lambs, 10,000 pounds of feed and several cash donations have made it possible for UW students to learn firsthand about the feeding, finishing and harvesting stages of lamb production.

"Lamb-a-Year actually sprung from previous ideas where producers wanted to give back in a way that was addressing the performance of their lambs through the finishing phases and into the meat meat locker while also providing some good teaching experiences and then ultimately fundraising opportunities," said Whit Stewart, UW sheep extension specialist and associate professor of animal science. "So, basically this culminated in producers donating lambs throughout the state. A couple of producers opted to donate monetary resources, and then a feed company partnered with us to help us put together some feed ingredients to finish these lambs. We have them here on campus and have been integrating it into a new class we developed called Introduction to Lamb Feeding. We monitor our growth performance. We experiment a little bit with low cost diets to keep our finishing costs down, and then ultimately the class will culminate next year where we harvest these lambs and then we turn it into a merchandising class. Students will learn the ins and outs of getting our American lamb into more outlets, the cuts that are probably considered less popular, like the leg and the shoulder and really trying to help add demand and then ultimately benefiting from the fundraising efforts of the proceeds of those lambs."

He explains why its so important to give students real hands on experience instead of learning just out of a text book.

"It's critical," said Stewart. "Each week these students have the opportunity to work the lambs, talk about the performance, talk about the diets of these animals, and then we bring in private industry speakers. We brought in Frank Moore and Brad Bonar from the Lamb Guys, entrepreneurs and direct marketing of lamb in our state. We brought in Superior Farms. We brought in some ethnic market buyers to talk about that side of the industry. So, I mean, from my standpoint, there's nothing better when we really get the synergy of the real world with what we're doing here in campus."

He credits the dedication of Wyoming producers in helping to make Lamb-a-Year a reality.

"It's overwhelming," said Stewart. "It's a tearjerker for me when I think about how generous our state is for our industry. And with these these current low prices, the willingness to donate lambs just speaks to the character of our industry and the state of Wyoming."

Proceeds from the sale of the lambs will sustain and expand programming for Wyoming students and producers. For those interested in learning more about the Lamb-a-Year program or donating next year, contact project coordinator Lindsay Conley-Stewart at woolinitiative@uwyo.edu.

Source: University of Wyoming and Western Ag Network