By Justin Walker
The Texas Sheep and Goat Expo will feature a new performance sheep and goat sale this year.
The sale, hosted by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, will be held on Saturday, Aug. 17, at 2 p.m. in San Angelo.
Each of the animals featured in the sale have been performance tested using the National Sheep Improvement Program, Dr. Reid Redden, AgriLife Extension sheep and goal specialist, said.
“It is a small-scale, elite sale to showcase animals selected based on estimated breeding values and to demonstrate how both seedstock and commercial sheep breeders can benefit from this technology,” Redden said. “We have sheep breeders from Texas, Kansas, Missouri and South Dakota that have consigned 20 breeding rams to our sale.”
AgriLife Extension had previously hosted a ram test, including a ram sale. The Texas A&M Ram Performance Test was first held in 1948 but was discontinued in 2018.
“The Ram Test served its purpose, but newer technology exists to better quantify genetic merit of sheep and goats,” Redden said. “The improvements in similar technology have been proven to be effective in other livestock species and sheep breeders in other countries.”
The advancements, coupled with millions of data points gathered by the National Sheep Improvement Program, has made the technology the best option for producers, Redden said. Working with Texas seedstock breeders remains a priority for AgriLife Extension, he said.
The National Sheep Improvement Program generates estimated breeding values (EBVs), which are science-based and industry-tested measurements of heritable traits that can be tracked and measured, Redden said. AgriLife has been working to transition breeders to this program.
“This allows for more reliable prediction on previously unreported traits, such as reproductive rate and parasite-resistance traits, in addition to predicting growth rate and fleece production, which were the main traits measured on the central performance test,” Redden said. “The National Sheep Improvement Program has been in existence since the late 1980s. However, wide-scale adoption of this technology has not occurred until the last decade.”