Government of Canada increases sheep compensation amounts
June 6, 2012 - View results
Results of the 2011 Genetics Survey
April 25, 2012 - View results
SheepBytes ration balancer now available
A newly launched online software application aims to help reduce the single biggest input cost for lamb producers. Over forty percent of the cost of getting a lamb to market is the cost of feed. SheepBytes is an online tool that helps adjust feeding rations not only to make them more cost effective, but also to provide optimal flock nutrition for sheep in every stage of production.
“Test users, producers, veterinarians, nutritionists, consultants, college students and staff helped assess the program to make sure it meets the needs of today’s producer,” says Margaret Cook, Executive Director of the Alberta Lamb Producers (ALP). ALP will be marketing SheepBytes as well as arranging industry training. “The lamb market is a tough one and we are working to ensure that producers have every possible opportunity to make their operations profitable and their lamb competitive.”
This new web-based program has been developed through lamb industry collaboration.Nutritional expertise was provided by Dr. Susan Markus and Barry Yaremcio, Alberta Agriculture & Rural Development with contractor Dale Engstrom. This version is a re-make of an older Alberta Agriculture DOS based program used by Alberta producers since the early 1990s, SheepBytes was funded by the Alberta Livestock & Meat Agency as part of an ongoing commitment to help Alberta producers lead the way in innovation and production by the development of high-quality products.
“Developing new electronic tools along with the skills to implement new technology has been the focus of collaborative industry projects,” says Susan Hosford, project manager and Industry Specialist with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development. “Cloud computing technology makes the SheepBytes application accessible by lamb producers across Canada and the United States. It incorporates the 2007 National Research Council nutrient requirements for fine-tuning rations for larger, more productive ewes.”
SheepBytes users can input their own feed test results for rations suited to their flock. Another option is to use the generic ‘Feeds Library’ that includes average analyses of feeds from Eastern and Western Canada. Rations can be formulated for lambs, ewes, or rams at any and all stages of production, body weight or body condition score. SheepBytes can calculate the different ingredients in a batch of feed, yardage costs or estimate feed wasted during feeding. It can generate feed reports and feed inventories. SheepBytes also can take into account different types of water and environmental conditions. Users can input the cost of each feed in a variety of rations.
“Flock profitability isn’t all about least-cost rations, though SheepBytes can compare feeds and rations to help manage costs,” says Hosford. “A profitable flock is one where feeds and feeding are managed for optimal animal nutrition and flock performance.”
The program is made up of modules that can be accessed via desktop, cell phone or mobile applications so the information can be put to use in the field. Feed company nutritionists or veterinarians can even be given access to consult on any ration or feed problems that producers may have.
“Through government, industry and ALMA support we’ve been able to keep the cost of SheepBytes very low for end users,” says Cook. “This technology can be used to help improve the profitability of all operations, from the very small to the largest flocks. To improve flock nutritional expertise and to provide training on SheepBytes, courses will be available for Alberta producers, feed companies and private animal nutritionists.”The program is available by on-line subscription at www.sheepbytes.ca. Individual subscribers will pay an initial $100 fee for the first year with a $50 annual renewal. Commercial subscribers will pay a $300 annual fee. Commercial subscribers have added tools to help manage multiple clients and numbers of rations.
“Market fluctuations, increasing foreign competition and increasing costs are just part of the challenges that producers face today,” says Cook. “Alberta producers continue to lead the way in using technology to gain every business advantage possible and to raise the best product we can. SheepBytes is yet another tool to support them in doing that.”
For more information, to try out the free demonstration, or to sign up for a subscription to the program, visit: www.sheepbytes.ca.
Sheep Industry Letter in Support of Scrapie Eradication
April 5, 2012
The Ontario Sheep Marketing Agency, along with the Canadian Sheep Federation, Canadian Sheep Breeders Association and the Canadian Livestock Genetics Association, would like to express their collective concern over the 41 missing Shropshire sheep.
On April 2, 2012, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency notified the public of a breach of quarantine in relation to scrapie control measures taking place in Trent Hills, Ontario. 41 sheep belonging to Montana Jones were slated to be destroyed and tested for scrapie as part of an ongoing scrapie investigation by the CFIA.
Industry members and producers alike can sympathize with the devastating and emotionally charged events that surround a scrapie investigation. A positive case of scrapie is a devastating event for any and all producers involved regardless of the nature of their operation and leads to both economic hardship and the destruction of carefullycrafted breeding programs.
Scrapie eradication efforts are, however, essential to the continued growth and vibrancy of the small ruminant industry in Canada. Positive cases of scrapie continue to pose a considerable threat to the health of the national sheep flock and goat herd. Scrapie is a devastating neurodegenerative disease with a long incubation period, for which there is no 100% effective live test. Infected animals can live and spread the disease in flocks and herds without being detected or exhibiting signs of illness.
Any situation where a positive case of scrapie is identified certainly speaks volumes to the need for moving towards scrapie eradication in our country, so these devastating situations cease to exist. Current scrapie control measures have made great strides in reducing the occurrence of the disease in Canada and contravening those measures jeopardizes the efforts made to better our national disease status.
Not only is scrapie eradication important to the industry, the international perception of pro-action in disease control is essential. Recognition of domestic efforts to minimize the risk of disease can help build a robust trade based industry on both domestic and international levels where international trade is essential to the vibrancy and long-term sustainability of the Canadian livestock species. Canada's ability to control the spread of scrapie dictates our ability to trade and interfering with that process jeopardizes the strides made towards domestic and international confidence in our animal health programs.
The events this week impact all livestock sectors because they undermine Canada's ability to demonstrate that we have robust and effective disease control programs in this country.
Actions taken by the group calling itself the "Farmer's Peace Corps" seriously risk the health and success of the Canadian sheep and goat industries. Moving potentially diseased animals during their greatest period of infectivity risks spreading the disease to an even larger number of animals. The most common pathway for the spread of scrapie is through contact with birthing fluids, and the animals removed from Ms Jones' farm are apparently due to give birth in the next few weeks. There is concern that this group may be ill-equipped to deal with biosecurity issues that surround this disease. Additionally, any premise or animals associated with this breach of quarantine risk falling under the same control measures applied to the original animals that were taken. What was initially a destruction order for 41 animals could quickly turn into the required destruction of hundreds of potentially infected sheep and goats.
Producers and industry groups alike would urge those involved to re-think the actions they have taken and the impact those actions have had on the small ruminant industry. As devastating as the loss of these 41 animals will be to the producer, it does not justify the impact this recent series of events has had on the survivability of the industry. Moreover, this action makes a mockery of the sacrifices that other producers have made over the years in the shared commitment to rid Canada of this disease scrapie.
Murray Hunt, General Manager, Ontario Sheep Marketing Agency
Jennifer Haley, Executive Director, Ontario Goat
Stacey White, General Manager, Canadian Sheep Breeders Association
Rick McRonald, Executive Director, Canadian Livestock Genetics Association
Jennifer MacTavish, Executive Director, Canadian Sheep Federation
Canadian Sheep Breeders' Association
La Société Canadienne des Éleveurs de Moutons