National Lamb Feeders Association Leadership School
The primary reason for creating the Howard Wyman Sheep Industry Leadership School
was to help new people in the industry increase their knowledge and understanding of
the changing industry. Today’s industry is really two industries: the ethnic and the
conventional. The traditional mode of pricing of lambs is changing. In spite of a recent
period of good prices, the next few years will be critical for the future of the sheep and
goat industries. Never before has education been more important.
The 2013 Leadership School in San Angelo, Texas will offer attendees the chance to
examine some of these industry changes and to learn how to adapt to the changing
industry. The goal for the Leadership School is to provide leadership training and
education to producers, processors, and others segments of the industry. The Texas
Leadership School will be an excellent opportunity to stimulate thinking and problemsolving
among a group of serious and highly motivated participants who are capable of
helping move the industry forward.
Dr. Frank Craddock, Extension Sheep & Goat Specialist at the Texas A&M AgriLife
Research & Extension Center, will serve as School Coordinator. The program will
include a half-day segment at Angelo State University’s Food Safety and Product
Development Laboratory. The Meat Labs are state-of-the-art and fully equipped for
harvesting, processing and developing case-ready meat products. Past Leadership
School attendees have described the opportunity to participate in live lamb and carcass
evaluation and fabrication as one of the most valuable learning experiences they have
been able to obtain.
The 2013 Leadership School will also examine various industry segments with tours of
Denis Feedlot, Custom Skin Company, Bollman Industries, Producers Livestock
Auction Company, Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center, plus
presentations by industry leaders, university researchers, representatives of associated
businesses, and successful Texas sheep and goat producers. Tentative agenda is
Angelo State University, Texas A&M AgriLife Research, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension
Service, Texas A&M University Wildlife Services, Producers’ Marketing Co-Op, Inc.,
Wildlife Connections, Inc., American Sheep Industry Association, Producers Livestock
Auction Company, Custom Skin Company, Denis Feedlot, Bollman Industries
Report to National Sheep Industry Improvement Center on the
2013 Howard Wyman Sheep Industry Leadership School
The 2013 Howard Wyman Sheep Industry Leadership School was held July 14–17, 2013 in San Angelo, Texas under the direction of Dr. Frank Craddock, Extension Sheep & Goat Specialist at Texas A&M AgriLife Research & Extension Center. First of all, NLFA would like to thank the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center for their continuing support and belief in the value of the Howard Wyman Sheep Industry Leadership School. NLFA believes the Leadership School continues to fill an important role in providing education and inspiration for industry members enthusiastic about the future of the domestic sheep/goat industries.
The 2013 program, “Ranching in Texas,” offered an opportunity to examine changes in the Texas sheep/goat industries and to learn more about responding to dramatic changes, whether brought about by Mother Nature or economic fluctuations.
Class of 2013
Class size for 2013 numbered 29 students, 14 men and 15 women. In addition to the almost equal gender division, the group was nearly evenly divided in terms of age, with approximately half of the participants under the age of 30 and the remainder ranging from forties to age 70. Among the younger group were several graduate students and others who had recently completed or would soon be completing their undergraduate degrees in livestock related fields. While the participants in every school have a high level of experience in the sheep industry, the involvement of the graduate students stimulated discussion and offered innovative ideas on marketing American lamb.
In terms of state wide representation, there were four participants from Oregon and Texas, two each from the states of California, Louisiana, North Carolina, North Dakota and Ohio and one each from Alabama, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, Utah, Virginia and West Virginia. It is interesting to note this was the first time the state of Mississippi had been represented at any of the previous 26 schools. The representatives from Alabama, Louisiana, New Jersey, North Carolina, Utah, and West Virginia were all from states that collectively had less than 10 attendees during the course of the past 26 years. This increase in participation outside of the dominate sheep producing states demonstrates an increasing diversity among the type of sheep operations in the U.S., as well as an increasing interest in sheep production from states with smaller sheep numbers.
Evaluation of Program
The 2013 program focused on the changes taking place in the industry and how the Texas industry as adapted, in terms of feeds and in type of sheep. The long-term drought experience in Texas forced livestock producers to develop new ways to cope with feed shortages. The presentation about converting wood biomass into ruminate animal forage was evidence of this fact.
It is interesting to note that after years of serious drought in Texas, the Central Texas area experienced heavy rainfall of several inches during the week the Leadership School was held in San Angelo. The unexpected and heavy rain created a few obstacles for the planned site tours, but was welcome relief for the area.
For reference, a copy of the original agenda is attached. Each participant was asked to complete an evaluation form. Although only a third of the participants complied with the evaluation request, the following results are interesting and the accompanying quotes indicate the school did bring stimulate some critical thinking. The individual tour sites are rated below. The rating scale was 1 to 10, with 1 as least valuable and 10 as most valuable to the participant.
9 ASU Meat Labs
8.8 Producers Livestock Auction
8.3 Bollman Industries
8 N&K Ranches
7.7 Presentations on Research at Texas A&M AgriLife Research Center
7.7 Presentations on Challenges of Ranching in Texas
7.5 Denis Feedlot
6.8 Sawyer Ranch
6.8 Brush Control/Dr. Butch Taylor
6.5 Oil, wind and gas/Bob Malone
5.8 Role of Land Grant College
5.3 Custom Skin Co.
The tour of the Custom Skin Co. did not rank high and it is easy to understand, as the warehouse was nearly empty and there was no processing taking place. One student questioned whether this was due to the increasing number of hair sheep and goats coming from this part of Texas.
As shown above, students ranked the carcass evaluation and fabrication demonstrations held at Angelo State University Meat Labs as one of the “most valuable” experiences of the school. The carcass evaluation was performed on four different animals and the participants later had the opportunity to taste some of the lamb they helped to process in the Meats Lab. — I liked that we were able to taste the difference between the meats we fabricated in the Meats Lab. —
I really enjoyed the carcass evaluation and fabrication lesson at the meats lab at ASU.
The Meat Lab experience was followed closely by tours of Producers Livestock Auction, Bollman Industries, and the farm tour of N&K Ranches, a Boer goat and hair sheep operation. Unfortunately the visit to Producers Livestock Auction did not include the opportunity to see a live auction in process, which was a disappointment to some, but also offered other benefits:
At first I had hoped we would get to see the selling at Producers Auction but afterward, I was thankful they weren’t because we got the full attention of the manager and still got to walk the catwalk.
The tour of the Bollman scouring plant proved eye opening for many of the participants. Comments about this tour included:
The washing equipment was fascinating. I had no idea that such equipment existed. —
I was greatly fascinated by the scouring facility. This is a component of the industry I had never seen before.
Following are other comments indicating the Leadership School’s success in providing participants with a broader view of the industry, as well as thoughtful suggestions offered to NLFA.
I got the impression the Denis Feedlot was really an anomaly to the area. I gained the perspective ranch operations that manage large numbers of sheep are declining.
I expected to learn ore about range sheep and what I saw was mostly farm flocks.
Biggest part was an understanding about the current infrastructure of our industry and the challenges/opportunities it has.
The Leadership School opened my eyes not only to new ideas, but also to some of the obstacles faced by the industry.
The most valuable thing I walked away with was how diverse the sheep industry is.
I would suggest focusing on the industry from a big picture standpoint. While I understand there are a lot of small niche market producer, those are also not the products that are going to be sitting on the shelf in the big grocery store chains.
I believe Dr. Craddock did an exceptional job in putting together this program that described the sheep industry in Texas. … I think what is missing from this way of presentation is the national perspective of the processes and problems of the sheep industry. A better distribution of time would be to allot 50% to local tours, unique to each area and 50 % to a core curriculum that laid out on a national scale what is going on in the sheep industry.
A summary of the proposed budget and the actual expenses follows. In terms of the cost of the program, NLFA was fortunate in regard to the lodging expenses. Lodging was originally estimated to be higher due to the oil and gas boom in the San Angelo area and the increased demand for rooms. However, arrangements were made at an early date and as a results of the early booking for the school room block, a group room rate discount was obtained, making the overall lodging expense approximately half of the anticipated amount.
The one downside associated with the hotel was the lack of meeting room space, which made it difficult for the study groups to find space for their evening meetings. Some participants felt there was not adequate time to make the study groups a valuable learning experience. On the whole, most participants enjoyed the small groups, the discussions, exchange of ideas and the final presentations. On the evaluation, the Study groups were given a rating of 7.1.
One additional factor complicated this year’s school. At the last minute, the motor coach company failed to provide the transportation originally requested. Dr. Craddock substituted several smaller vans for the motor coach. The only disadvantage of this arrangement was the fact the participants had less time to network with the entire class or to facilitate conversations between study group partners during the travel between site tours. The networking between all of the Leadership School students and advisors is one of the features of the school that is highly valued.
With Dr. Craddock’s assistance, the Leadership School expenses were held at a minimum. Dr. Craddock had conducted four prior schools and was able to keep expenses well within the estimated limits. The meat from the Meat Lab demonstrations, for example, was used for the group meals. In addition, Glen Fisher, a leading Texas producer also hosted one of the evening meals.
NLFA thanks all of the Texas hosts and sponsors who contributed to the success of the 2013 Leadership School, as well as the members of the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center for supporting the Leadership School and its goal of creating a more unified industry by increasing understanding between all of the individual members of the industry.