American Sheep Industry Association



Sheep Producer Mentorship Program Ė
Introducing New Producers to the Opportunities of the Sheep Industry


This grant will fund the development of a catalogue of current sheep production

management courses to disseminate to new and existing producers. That catalogue will provide a convenient resource for individuals seeking educational opportunities in sheep production management practices.

The grant will also provide for the development of a tool kit for mentors to share with individuals that includes management principles and education on the sheep industry. This tool kit will not only provide educational materials but will also provide discussion materials to help facilitate the mentoring relationship between the existing producer  and the new producer.

Additionally, the Grant will fund the delivery of three webinars throughout the course of the project.

Status Update February, 2013

Progress Report on Sheep Producer Mentorship Program

Introducing New Producers to the Opportunities of the Sheep Industry 


The American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) began an initiative in 2011, called Letís Grow, to grow the national flock in order to provide a strategy to strengthen the industryís infrastructure for long-term sustainability.

The focus of the work in 2011 on the Letís Grow initiative was promoting its launch, which included the development of a website,, marketing materials and media promotion. The site includes a resources section that hosts downloadable management practices (written by a group of dedicated sheep extension specialists) and links to various webinars that have been hosted during the past year, among other items.

Immediate following the launch of the campaign at the 2011 sheep industry convention, ASI leaders promoted the Letís Grow initiative on RFD-TV Live. A variety of sheep industry issues were covered but the highlights included the goals of the initiative, a recap of the lamb and wool markets, the benefits and ease of adding sheep to already existing agriculture enterprises, resources for new producers looking to get into the industry and the array of industry information that can be found at In addition, the audience viewed a series of sheep producer documentaries depicting the success they have had in the industry and portraying the various methods in which to raise sheep. Those documentaries can be viewed at The hour-long show concluded with live calls from the audience which ranged in topics from Livestock Risk Protection for Lamb, how the industry is promoting lamb and sheep stocking rates.

The media promotion prong consisted of media events held in Iowa, Minnesota, Ohio, Indiana, Tennessee and California. Representatives from ASI provided an overview of the demand and supply situation; steps the industry is taking to help grow flock size; how individual producers can expand their flocks; available markets; and how young producers, rural lifestyle and how producers of other livestock can get involved in the industry. Local producers were also on hand to share their stories and how they plan to help grow the industry.   

After the initial launch of Letís Grow, the work in 2012 focused on the development of a mentor program and more efficiency in sheep production.

ASI developed a sheep production toolkit targeting emerging producers which includes a host of information to teach new producers about the production of safe and wholesome food and fiber, the well-being of sheep, sheep disease issues, ration software programs and educational opportunities and courses. Also included in the package is a complimentary digital version of ASIís Sheep Production Handbook. Mentoring guidelines were developed to assist state sheep associations in the development of their individualized programs and a webinar was hosted giving even further insight to the mentoring relationship. In addition, under the Letís Grow initiative, ASI provided states with a $1,000 grant to assist in the development of their individualized program to help emerging producers succeed in the industry.

The focus of increased efficiency in sheep production came with the development of additional management practices posted to the Letís Grow site in addition to the hosting of production focused webinars for the industry.

A major funding program for this initiative in 2012 was the SheepSD project, a South Dakota State University Extension program designed to help sheep producers enter and expand into the sheep industry. This three-year program provides a curriculum to help equip new producers with the tools to make wise management decisions in turn contributing to ongoing sheep production, land stewardship and rural community viability.

The scope of work in 2013 will continue with the focus on production efficiencies including the development of additional management practices, continued distribution of toolkits for new sheep producers, again offering a $1,000 grant to member state sheep associations for mentoring activities and continued support of the SheepSD program. 

Another launch that will take place this year is the addition of a Sheep Community of Practice to the eXtension system, which can be found at Producers will be able to access research-based articles, take online courses, participate in real-time webinars and an ďAsk an ExpertĒ function. Once the site is fully populated, it will contain research-based information on seven key areas: feed and nutrition, reproduction and breeding, management practices, genetic selection, health and veterinary care, grazing and pastures and wool.

ASI believes the initiative has been successful even given the circumstances of the drought, fires and market price softening. According to an analysis of the sheep industry that was made by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's, Economic Research Service in its Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook, "In 2012, sheep inventory registered a smaller decline than in the previous two years. Despite the drought conditions in most of the sheep-producing areas, the "grow our flock" program by the sheep industry appeared to slow the decline. The National Agriculture Statistics Service's Sheep and Goats report estimated the inventory of all sheep and lamb in the United States on Jan. 1, 2013, as 5.34 million head, down 1 percent and a 30,000-head decline from 2012. Breeding sheep inventory decreased to 3.98 million head on Jan. 1, 2013, down 1 percent from 4.0 million head on Jan. 1, 2012. A 2-percent decline was seen in the 2012 lamb crop and is expected to result in further production declines during 2013, with production at around 152 million pounds. As a result, slaughter lamb prices, which declined significantly in 2012, are expected to show strength in 2013."