Sheep Genetics USA

Kickstarting genetic research and implementation is the main goal of an industry-wide mandate for the U.S. sheep industry.

In an effort to help strengthen the industry and in the end make sheep producers more efficient and profitable, the U.S. sheep industry has launched Sheep Genetics USA.

According to board member Ben Lehfeldt, “Over the past 15, 20 years, we’ve had the National Sheep Improvement Program, which really has advanced the ability for our producers to take phenotypes, develop programs for producers to input phenotypic data, and as the progression has moved forward, we’ve needed this next segment of our industry, Sheep Genetics USA, to really take the pedigree information, that phenotypic information, and then try to pair it with some our genetic traits to really reinforce that program. And, what Sheep Genetics USA does is it takes the information and the entire industry segment at a grassroots level to try to prioritize some of the projects that we have in the sheep industry right now and in the future.”

He says that research projects are very important to the U.S. sheep industry and Sheep Genetics USA will help connect industry stakeholders.

“Not only what we have going right now because we have some really important projects that are going, but that connectivity of the entire industry is important to make to put power behind those projects,” he states. “In this program, we have the end user, the ALB (American Lamb Board), the consumer portion, the feeders and packers, we have sheep producers, we’ve got the breed industries. Our ideas to really come together and develop the grassroots programs that are important for those individual groups, come together, and really get behind these projects, so we can really leverage the power of the industry to go after large grants, which it really takes to do this genomic research projects.”

He says that the success of Sheep Genetics USA depends on industry participation.

“We rolled out this idea, we’ve got by-laws, we put together a membership form. At the convention we rolled out the program and if you go to, there’s a membership form that any sheep producer or any researcher can go on, pick their representative committee and be a part of the process. From that membership, we’re going to select action leads that will really identify those projects and make that flow of information work across the industry,” he adds.