National Sheep Improvement Program

The use of quantitative genetic selection has been outlined as one of the top priorities to progress the U.S. sheep industry.  The use of Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) has been proven to increase the productivity of participating flocks.  The National Sheep Improvement Program (NSIP) provides the framework for genetic selection technology for the nationís sheep flock. Previous funding of awareness and education of NSIP has increased enrollment in the program by 25% over the past year through increased educational programs, increased technical assistance to members, and genetics consulting service to the commercial sector.  With these efforts, NSIP expects to expand the program to better serve the U.S. lamb and wool industries.

The objectives are to match funds in order to engage the U.S. sheep industry to promote the wider adoption of quantitative genetics and its use in selection industry-wide.  The NSIP has been awarded a grant titled U.S. Sheep Genetic Improvement Initiative from the ASIís Letís Grow Committee.  Funding was dependent upon hiring a full-time program director to carry out the project, which was accomplished.  Activities of this project include conducting informational workshops and field days throughout the country, developing educational literature for purebred and commercial producers and assisting new members in the transition into NSIP.   Past activities of this kind have contributed to a 25% increase in enrollment into NSIP annually and further support will allow the program to continue the growth and development of the program.  Additional grants have been awarded to increase the utilization of the technology by the commercial sector.  Further, continued growth will allow NSIP to reach its goal of being self-sustaining by 2019.  

The program director will continue to increase the industryís understanding of how the technology can lead to productivity improvement and will streamline the efficiency of operations within NSIP through increased educational programs, workshops and awareness projects.  Increased utilization of NSIP will allow the program to better serve the U.S. sheep industry to meet the goals of increasing lamb and wool production.  Goals for increasing utilization of NSIP are to increase enrolled flocks submitting data by 25% yearly while increasing the number of sheep with estimated breeding values (EBVs) being sold into commercial flocks by 25%.  The first yearís goal has been reached and further support will aid NSIP to continue offering the technology to the industry.  This will disseminate the genetics for increased productivity into the commercial sector and allow for industry-wide productivity improvement.