The 2019 Nebraska Sheep and Goat Producers Annual Conference draws a crowd
for The Fence Post
This year, the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture in Curtis hosted the 2019 Nebraska Sheep and Goat Producers Annual Conference. On Nov. 2, the day kicked off at 10 a.m. with a welcome from NCTA Interim Dean Kelly Bruns and a brief description of NCTA and its programs.
The first event of the day was the lamb necropsy demonstration from Dr. Elizabeth Fraser on a ewe donated to the school by Dallas Henry. With assistance from two of her students, Kiley Guenther and Taylor West, she showed the conference-goers the risks of problematic injections by showing the inner damage to the carcass after two weeks. The team cut into lesions from injections in both the correct and wrong places. “The back is what they call the epaxial muscles — you don’t want to put injections there,” Fraser said, before showing the damage injections can cause the carcass in that area.
Guenther and West pointed out various lesions, discolorations, and hemorrhaging caused by various problematic injections. “We want to keep them from the shoulder or the hip down. The neck, however is the best place to put injections. When you think about the anatomy of the neck, there’s a big ligament that runs from the back of their head to the shoulders, the jugular, and a cervical vertebrae that create a triangle that is your best opportunity for injections,” Fraser said.
The digestive and reproductive tracts were also laid out for viewing. Fraser showed the different organs in both tracts. Due to the ewe being euthanized that morning, she also emphasized how important it is to ensure euthanizations are not spread through the food chain. “It is critical that you get that animal buried deep,” she said, “because in the event that hawks, eagles, or whatever eat that, you could potentially kill an animal and face a heavy fine.”
Following the demonstration, Fraser provided the attendees with a tour of NCTA’s veterinary teaching hospital.
After returning from the veterinary teaching hospital, the conference participants received a crash course on cooking with lamb from Gwendolyn Kitzan, the vice chair of the American Lamb Board. Divided into groups, all the attendees had to cook their own lunch using lamb recipes and various cuts of lamb. Using Kitzan’s home recipes, the amateur chefs prepared tips, meatballs, gyros, and fajitas, and prepped a lamb leg to cook for dinner. Kitzan showed the attendees how to prepare the different meats with a variety of flavors, starting with the gyro meat which takes the longest to cook but is actually very simple, before setting them loose. “This is one of the best cooking demos I’ve been a part of because it was interactive and everyone got to be a part of it,” one attendee, Nancy Mead said and thanked Kitzan.
While the conference attendees enjoyed their lunch, Kitzan gave her presentation on direct marketing of lamb and goat: What Has Worked and What Hasn’t. In her presentation, she described different ways to promote lamb products and what has and hasn’t worked in her family’s marketing operation, Kitzan Family Farms, near Nisland, S.D. Her family raises sheep and sells various lamb products, including meat and wool products, at the Rapid City, S.D., farmer’s market. The first year, Kitzan sold the leg of lamb, chops, shoulder roast, round and shanks. “No wonder I lost money,” she said. Since, then the company has expanded to sell up to 16 different meat products, including the bones, along with multiple wool products, using a larger portion of the lamb.
Brad Ramsdale gave a tour of NCTA’s cover crop plots and a brief presentation. Ramsdale began by showing the group a strip of “a homemade blend of cover crop seeds” that had been planted in the middle of August. “What you plant comes down to your seasons of growth and your objectives of what you want to get out of it,” Ramsdale told the attendees. “If you want to plant in August, that’s going to be a different species than what you want to plant in the spring or summer time.” He provided legumes, grasses, cereals, and other plants for the conference members to view and described the pros and cons of growing the variety of crops.
University of Nebraska Lincoln Extension Agent Randy Saner presented on sheep and goat condition scoring and nutrition. “If they’re shorn, it’s pretty easy to condition score,” Saner said. “Look at the top; is it sharp? Feel the side; do you feel those little buttons there? This will help tell you where they’re at.”
Following the presentation, the conference attendees were given the chance to hands-on score sheep producer Daniel Stehlik’s lambs.
The NCTA Stock Dog Club also provided a demonstration during the conference. The organization’s main goal is promote and develop the use of stock dogs for anyone working with livestock. During the conference, the team provided multiple demonstrations with their dogs to show the crowd how stock dogs work to assist their handlers in herding sheep. Using dogs of different ages, the team also showed the development in a stock dog’s skills as they learn and grow.
To round out the day, the Nebraska Sheep and Goat Producers held their annual meeting during a dinner of roasted lamb and goat prepped during the cooking demonstration. ❖