Idaho Rangeland Drought

To help rangeland producers during drought-related hardships, ISDA, in cooperation with the Idaho Cattle Association, Idaho Wool Growers Association, Idaho Farm Bureau, and other state and federal agencies, initiated the Idaho Rangeland Drought Task Group (IRDTG) in 2002. The group improves coordination to reduce potential drought-related conflicts and hardships by informing producers of available drought assistance from federal, state, and other agencies. Idaho experienced severe drought conditions during 2012 and 2013. In early 2014, federal and state agencies re-initiated the IRDTG to discuss current drought-related conditions on Idaho rangelands.

The IRDTG works collaboratively with operators to address drought conditions throughout Idaho, and help manage changes that may be necessary to ensure healthy, functional rangelands. The intent of the IRDTG is to present potential alternatives to producers and facilitate coordination between state and federal land management agencies.

For more information on Idaho drought conditions visit,

More Management Resources for Drought

University of Idaho Range Extension

Forecasts and Other information


What is Scrapie?

Scrapie is a fatal degenerative disease of the central nervous system of sheep and goats. It belongs to a group of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE); which are characterized by the formation of holes in cells of the brain, and the accumulation of an abnormal protein resulting in loss of tissue and function. Devastatingly, scrapie is estimated to cost the U.S. sheep industry over $20 million a year and cause significant production loss.

Since being introduced to the U.S. in 1947, more than 1,000 flocks have been attacked by this infectious disease. Though no breed has proven to be immune, the US Suffolk and other black-faced meat breeds and crosses tend to be more prone to the disease.

The name “Scrapie” was derived by one of the classic clinical signs of the disease. Some affected animals will compulsively itch or scrape off their wool against rock, trees or fences. Not all animals will portray this behavior and a few will die without showing any clinical signs.

Clinical Signs:

  • Behavioral changes - nervousness/aggression
  • anxious/uneasy during handling
  • Development of tremors of the head and neck
  • Isolation from rest of the flock
  • Uncoordinated movement of hind legs
  • Weight loss

More advanced signs:

  • Intense itching and scraping
  • Pulled out wool
  • High stepping, stumbling, falling
  • Grinding teeth
  • Shaking of tail and rump
  • Death

Experts believe the primary mode of transmission is through direct sheep-to-sheep contact. Most commonly spread from ewe to offspring during the first six months of life through the birthing process and contact with the placenta and bodily fluids. The incubation period of the disease is 2 - 5 years. The infection ages and remains in the lymph tissues at relatively low levels during the early years of the disease, and then begins to affect central nervous system as it progresses. Sadly, death is inevitable.

US exports are also affected by the presence of scrapie in the United States. Breeding stock, semen and embryos are prohibited from being shipped to many other countries due to the risks associated with the disease. TSEs are the subject of increased attention and concern because of the discovery of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in cattle, the link between BSE and variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) in people, and feline spongiform encephalopathy (FSE) in cats in Europe. Public health concerns related to the transmission of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) to humans have resulted in efforts to eradicate all TSEs in food-producing animals.



Surveillance for scrapie in the United States is conducted through the National Scrapie Eradication Program (NSEP), a cooperative State-Federal-industry program. The surveillance components of the NSEP include:

  1. Regulatory Scrapie Slaughter Surveillance (RSSS);
  2. Non-slaughter surveillance (e.g., trace investigations, on-farm testing); and
  3. The Scrapie Free Flock Certification Program (SFCP).

The program’s goals are to eradicate classical scrapie from the United States and to meet World Organization for Animal Health criteria for disease freedom. Since 2002, the prevalence of scrapie has decreased significantly through existing eradication efforts, largely a result of effective slaughter surveillance.


The National Scrapie Eradication Program provides a limited number of free official ear tags to sheep and goat producers. In response to feedback from and collaboration with the sheep and goat industry, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) will provide a limited number of free, plastic tags to first time participants in the sheep and goat identification program through fiscal year (FY) 2020. APHIS is working with the sheep and goat organizations to transition toward electronic identification to improve our nation’s ability to quickly trace exposed and diseased animals in the event of an outbreak. Our goal is to start to transition to electronic identification by fall 2020. 

Currently, APHIS will provide up to 80 plastic flock ID tags, free-of-charge, to producers who have not gotten free tags from USDA in the past. APHIS will discontinue the availability of no-cost metal tags for producers. Dealers and markets may continue to receive metal serial tags at no cost. The no-cost metal tags previously provided to producers will be phased out in summer 2019, when the currently obligated funding is expended. During the phase out, APHIS will continue to provide, upon request, up to 100 serial metal tags free of charge to producers (either regular orange metal serial tags or blue slaughter-only metal serial tags) who haven’t received APHIS-provided tags within the previous 24 months.  Flock ID tag numbers are the producer’s flock ID assigned by APHIS or the State and an individual animal number. Metal serial tag numbers have the state postal abbreviation, 2 letters and 4 numbers.

Animal Health

Animal Health
The Idaho Wool Growers Association strives to maintain a high level of public trust and integrity in regards to animal welfare in the sheep industry. Idaho sheep producers take great pride in caring for and protecting the well-being of their livelihoods. They recognize their obligation and work hard to ensure ethical practices and products while caring for their livestock in order to provide the best quality products and increase consumer confidence. SHEEP SAFETY AND QUALITY ASSURANCE (SSQA)

During 1992 and 1993, The American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) and Colorado State University (CSU) conducted a sheep quality audit on lamb, mutton, pelts, milk and lanolin products on U.S. sheep. The result was the identification of challenges and problem areas in the industry that needed to be reformed. This led to the development of the SSQA program which was designed to help producers develop better preventative management strategies throughout the production cycle by utilizing both research and education. The SSQA was developed to educate producers in order to ensure the highest level of quality and safety while ensuring the well-being of sheep in the United States.  

The Mission of SSQA is to maximize consumer confidence in, and acceptance of, sheep products by using research and education to improve management during the production of safe and high-quality sheep products.”

Follow the link below for more information on the SSQA program and their processes and procedures.  Learn More About SSQA


The American Consortium for Small Ruminant Parasite Control website offers information on internal parasite control.

Articles include:

  • Why does it take so long for new dewormers to become available on the market for small ruminants?
  • Finding new drugs with anthelmintic properties is hard to do
  • Drugs are expensive to develop
  • Drugs need to meet stringent requirements for efficacy, safety and manufacturing
  • What can we do in the interim?


Biosecurity refers to management measures taken to prevent disease agents from being introduced and spreading to and/or from animal populations or their proximity.

Why do I need to be aware of biosecurity? Economically speaking, it is worth it because it:

  • Minimizes risk of new disease,
  • Controls and eradicates existing diseases, and
  • Increases consumer confidence in the final product.

Biosecurity has three main components. These are:

  • Isolation = the confinement of animals away from other animals
  • Traffic control = movement of people, animals, vehicles and equipment
  • Sanitation/Husbandry = cleanliness and care of animals and their environment.

For more information on biosecurity click here.

Additional Information pulled directly from ASI site’s Animal Health page:


The Minor Use and Minor Species (MUMS) Animal Health Act of 2001 is similar to the human Orphan Drug Act of 1983. It is intended as a mechanism to provide FDA-authorized drugs for those less common species and indications. Specifically, it seeks to provide labeled drugs for needy minor species, including sheep, goats, game birds, emus, ranched deer, alpacas, llamas, deer, elk, rabbits, guinea pigs, pet birds, reptiles, ornamental and other fish, shellfish, wildlife, zoo and aquaria animals. The MUMS Act is designed to provide major species (cats, dogs, horses, cattle, swine, turkey, chickens) with needed therapeutics for uncommon indications, so called minor use.

Click here for more MUMS information: MUMS

NAHMS (National Animal Health Monitoring System)

NAHMS Sheep 2011 Study

The NAHMS Sheep 2011 study was conducted in 22 of the Nation’s major sheep-producing States. The study provides participants, stakeholders and the industry with valuable information representing 70.1 percent of U.S. farms with ewes and 85.5 percent of the U.S. ewe inventory (NASS 2007 Census of Agriculture).

Part 1: Reference of Sheep Management Practices in the United States, 2011

Items of Note

Population estimates and operator experience

Sheep breeds in the United States can be categorized by purpose, fiber type and face color. Black- or nonwhite-faced breeds include Suffolk, Hampshire, Shropshire, Oxford, and Southdown. These breeds are often considered meat producers, while white-faced breeds are more often used for wool production. Because each sheep breed offers superiority in some trait, producers often blend the breeds to gain the superior characteristics of each breed in offspring. These offspring are used to attain the phenotypic requirements of their operation’s type and geographical conditions. While the highest percentage of operations (44.7 percent) had black-faced wool breeds, the highest percentage of sheep and lambs (41.7 percent) were in the white-faced breed category. Sheep are a multi use species. For example, 81.6 percent of operations raised sheep for meat, 26.5 percent for seed or breeding stock, 15.8 percent for wool, and nearly 32.6 percent of operations raised sheep for more than one reason. When rapid means of communication with producers is important, it can be helpful to work with national or State industry organizations to promulgate necessary information. Over one-fifth of producers (22.9 percent) belonged to a national sheep organization, and almost one-third (29.0 percent) belonged to a State or local sheep industry association or club. These percentages vary by size of operation and by operation type.


Flock and individual animal identification (ID) are important tools used to reduce disease and increase productivity on U.S. sheep operations. Almost 9 of 10 operations (88.6 percent) used some form of individual ID for their sheep. The most commonly used form of either individual or flock ID was the free Scrapie Program ear tag.

For more information on Scrapie click here (link to the Scrapie page)

Lambing management

With the increase of smaller operations, non-traditional marketing methods, and improved reproductive techniques, more operations have the ability to lamb during the season that best suits their customers’ needs. The highest percentage of lambs were born from February through May, which allows producers to make the most use of available forage. Spring lambing also coincides with natural breeding and lambing seasons, when ewes are likely to produce larger lamb crops. For operations that managed their sheep primarily on the open range, docking may be the first time they view the sheep after lambing. At this time, lambs are tagged, castrated, docked, and vaccinated, and ewes are examined to ensure health and fecundity. Overall, 80.5 percent of lambs born alive were docked. Nearly 7 of 10 operations castrated ram lambs at an average age of 23.4 days, and more than 3 of 10 operations castrated ram lambs in the first 7 days of age.

For more information on NAHMS click here

Most Animal Antibiotics Used for Treating, Preventing Disease

Antibiotics Used in Food Animals -- This is a series of PowerPoint presentations from February 2012 that were used at a briefing for the U.S. House of Representatives.

The White Paper from the National Institute for Animal Agriculture's 2012 Antibiotics Conference in Columbus, Ohio, ”A One Health Approach to Antimicrobial Use & Resistance: A Dialogue for a Common Purpose” is now available. --Antimocrobial Use Resistance White Paper

The Animal Health Institute announced February 8 the results of a survey on antibiotic use in animals in the United States that indicates that the vast majority of antibiotics are used to treat and prevent disease. The survey is based on data from 1998 provided to AHI by its members. "Antibiotics are vitally important to veterinarians, pet owners and livestock producers who rely on these medicines to protect pets and farm animals from disease," said AHI President and CEO Alexander S. Mathews. "The Animal Health Institute is hopeful that this data will provide for greater public understanding of the importance of antibiotics in preventing and controlling disease."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that more than 50 million pounds of antibiotics are produced in the United States each year. According to the AHI survey, 17.8 million pounds -- 36 percent -- are used in animals. Of the total used in animals, 14.7 million pounds -- 83 percent -- are used for prevention and treatment of disease. Of all antibiotic uses, only 3.1 million pounds -- 6.1 percent -- are used for growth promotion. Antibiotics may be approved for use in both companion and farm animals. There are more than 115 million cats and dogs, and more than 7 million sheep, 6.9 million horses, 7.5 billion chickens, 292 million turkeys, 109 million cattle and 92 million pigs in the United States. "In addition to protecting the health of America's pets, antibiotics help farmers maintain healthier animals, which helps make America's food supply the world's safest," Mathews added.

The Food and Drug Administration regulates all antibiotics for animals. The approval process is stringent and scientific, requiring that all antibiotics be proven safe for both animals and humans.

(Source: February 11, 2000 ASI WEEKLY)

For more information on use on antibiotics in the sheep industry click here

Wool Info




American wool has proven to be one of the most naturally resilient and renewable fibers we’ve come to produce here in the U.S. It’s resistance to compression and high rates of durability make it a fierce industry-leader in the world of fiber. Wool items can last for years after the original purchase date and can withstand an abundance of wear and tear due to the fact that they can bend up to 20,000 times before breaking (in comparison to competitors like cotton only being able to bend 3,000 times). This resilience helps wool products retain their natural shape and bounce thanks to the chemical polypeptide chains acting like coiled springs; which in turn, absorbs the stress of the material. That’s why wool is the ideal choice of fiber for products such as knitwear, hosiery and other high-bulk end items.


When you think of different wool products you typically begin to think of warm winter fabrics; but there is nothing like adding a thin layer of breathable, sweat-wicking American Merino wool to your wardrobe. The versatility of these products can range from fine- to heavy-weight fabrics which makes them great for any and all seasons. These high quality products can be worn or even used for home furnishings or nonwovens. The options are endless. There is no more versatile or reliable choice for all-season comfort, protection and performance.


The great thing about wool is that it is as environmentally friendly as it gets. It takes a super low amount of energy to produce, and creates far less carbon dioxide emissions than synthetic or lab-grown materials. Due to it being a natural and renewable fiber, it also creates little-to-no harmful by-products. U.S. wool producers are dedicated to taking care of their animals and the fields in which they graze which makes them great stewards of the land. Wool is produced in the most natural way possible requiring only the help of fresh air, water and grass. Seeing that it is an annually shorn and replenished resource it truly is one of the most sustainable commodities.
To learn more about American Wool visit American Wool or visit their socials accounts by searching @experiencewool


Breeds of Sheep/Types of Wool
  • Fine-Wool Breeds
    • Delaine-Merino
    • Rambouillet
    • Debouillet
  • Medium Breeds
    • Targhee
    • Finnsheep
    • Columbia
    • Dorset
    • Corredale
    • Montedale
    • Cheviot
    • Shropshire
    • Southdown
    • Hampshire
    • Oxford
    • Suffolk
  • Coarse Breeds
    • Border Leicester
    • Lincoln
    • Romney
For more information on the different breed characteristics, visit Wool Grades and the Sheep that Grow the Wool








Animal Management

General Management

The University of Idaho Extension Livestock educators have been working hard to provide exceptional content to Idaho's producers. A big thank you to Melinda Ellison, U of I Extension Sheep and Goat Specialist for setting up a series of webinars on a variety of important topics for the industry. Those webinars can be viewed at the link below


Feed Systems

The National Center for Appropriate Technology recently published a series of videos produced in collaboration with the Montana State University Extension. These videos cover the results of a couple research projects regarding incorporating livestock into crop systems. A couple of the videos specifically highlight the effects on the crop system and animal health obtained through feeding animals out on crop fields as opposed to in a feedlot environment. Those videos can be viewed by clicking on the links below:



Idaho Rangeland Resource Commission


Idaho Cattle Association

Western Range Association


[email protected]


Idaho Department of Lands


USDA Market News

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Twin Falls Sale

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Billings, MT Sale

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Newell, SD

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San Angelo, TX

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Fort Collins, CO.

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