Source: VIRGINIA STATE UNIVERSITY submitted to
STRATEGIES TO RAISE HAIR SHEEP LAMBS FOR SPECIALTY MARKETS ON PASTURE
Sponsoring Institution
National Institute of Food and Agriculture
Project Status
NEW
Funding Source
Reporting Frequency
Annual
Accession No.
1000873
Grant No.
2013-38821-21118
Project No.
VAX-Wildeus-2013
Proposal No.
2013-03632
Multistate No.
(N/A)
Program Code
EQ
Project Start Date
Sep 1, 2013
Project End Date
Aug 31, 2016
Grant Year
2013
Project Director
Wildeus, S. A.
Recipient Organization
VIRGINIA STATE UNIVERSITY
(N/A)
PETERSBURG,VA 23803
Performing Department
Dept Of Agricultural Research
Non Technical Summary
Limited resource small farmers can increase farm income by raising hair sheep for meat sales to direct and retail markets. Hair sheep are recognized for their 'easy-care' characteristics of disease tolerance and ability to convert low quality forage into high quality meat. Key objectives are to evaluate growth performance of purebred and terminal sire wool x hair lambs under rotational grazing, determine carcass characteristics and composition of purebred and crossbred pasture-fed lambs, and assess consumer response to local, grass-fed hair sheep lamb through test marketing at specialty food and direct market outlets. St. Croix and Barbados Blackbelly landrace hair sheep will be used to produce either purebred or Dorset-sired crossbred lambs at Virginia State University. Lambs will be raised under rotational grazing and supplemented with different levels of agro-byproducts. Fort Valley State University will process lamb carcasses into cuts suitable for consumer sampling at farmers markets and specialty food retailers. Consumer acceptance will be determined through test marketing conducted by Virginia State University. Nutritional and genetic recommendations for efficient lamb production under a low-input forage-based system and an extension guide to introduce hair sheep meat product in local markets will be developed. Producer workshops, extension fact sheets, and consumer outreach materials will be developed. Valuable experiential learning opportunities in sheep production, meat processing, and marketing will be offered to undergraduate and graduate students.
Animal Health Component
50%
Research Effort Categories
Basic
10%
Applied
50%
Developmental
40%
Classification

Knowledge Area (KA)Subject of Investigation (SOI)Field of Science (FOS)Percent
3083620106060%
3133620111020%
5023620310020%
Goals / Objectives
(1) Evaluate the growth performance of purebred landrace and terminal sire wool x hair sheep lambs under a rotational grazing system with limited inputs except differing levels of agro- byproduct supplementation. (2) Determine the carcass characteristics and composition of purebred and crossbred pasture-fed lambs in response to supplementation. (3) Evaluate the consumer response to grass-fed hair sheep lamb through test marketing in specialty market outlets.
Project Methods
The experiments for Objective 1 will be conducted at the hair sheep facilities of the Small Ruminant Program at VSU using a 100 ewe flock, equally representing the Barbados Blackbelly and St. Croix breeds. Ewes are mated in an accelerated breeding system (mating periods in November, July and March). Rams for purebred matings are available from the ram flock maintained at VSU. Dorset rams (n=6) providing a cross-section of the breed in the mid-Atlantic region will be used to produce crossbred lambs. Lambs for the grazing trials will be produced by randomly allocating ewes topurebred andcrossbred mating groups. Groups will be mated by single sire to either three rams of like breed or three Dorset rams, for a total of 9 single sire mating groups. Ewes will be re-allocated to breeding groups after each breeding season. Ewes will lamb on pasture with limited assistance. Lambs will be weaned at approximately 63 day of age. The lamb grazing trials will be conducted in grazing area subdivided into six paddocks (two Bermuda grass units and four Max Q fescue pastures inter-seeded with white clover) that will be rotational grazed. The grazing unit contains a shed equipped with a 24-station Calan® feeder to individually supplement lambs. Animals will be rotated to a new paddock when residual plant material has reached a predetermined height. In all grazing trials 36 weaned ram lambs, equally representing the four breed types will be used. Lambs will be allowed a 3 to 4 week post-weaning stabilization period to completely transition to an all-forage diet, and recover from weaning stress before being assigned to the grazing trials. Lambs will be grazed as one group, and used to determine the effect of supplementation and breed type on lamb growth rate and performance. Measurements will be taken of body weight (growth performance) and condition, fecal egg counts, and FAMACHA lower eye lid anemia scores in 2-week intervals throughout the grazing season. Animals treated individually with moxidectinonceFAMACHA is greater than 3. The frequency at which individual animals need to be treated will be recorded. Three grazing trials will be conducted over the duration of the project. There will be 3 diets in each grazing trial with 12 lambs per diet (3 animals/breed type). One of diets will be a grazing-only, non-supplemented control, while the others have two levels of supplementation. Lambs will remain on trial for 112 days. The first trial will be initiated in April and evaluate spring grazing conditions. Soy hull supplement will be fed to lambs at 1 and 2% body weight. The second grazing trial will be initiated in December and will evaluate performance under winter grazing using stockpiled fescue forage and overseeded winter annual (rye grass) while providing soy hull supplementation as described for the first trial. The third grazing trial will be initiated in August and evaluate lamb performance using summer and early fall grazing. Lambs will again be provided the soy hull supplementation at 0, 1 and 2% of body weight. Lambs will initially graze perennial warm season pasture (Bermuda grass) and will transition to MaxQ fescue pastures. Data from the grazing trials will be analyzed for the effect of breed type, supplement level and grazing season, and their interaction on growth performance and fitness traits. The trials are designed to determine the type of response (linear or quadratic) to increasing levels of soy hull supplementation. Under Objective 2, lambs will be transported from the VSU pasture to the FVSU slaughter facility and humanely harvested according to industry-accepted procedures. Carcasses will be chilled for 7 days at 2 degree C before carcass data collection and fabrication. Dressing percentage of each carcass will be reported as a carcass yield. After the 7-day chilling period, carcasses will be reweighed to calculate cooler shrinkage. Carcass quality grade data (fat thickness, body wall thickness, and ribeye area) will be collected. Carcasses will be then fabricated into primal cuts for lamb. Four fat depots (subcutaneous, intermuscular, intramuscular, and kidney) will be sampled from each carcass for fatty acid analysis. The intramuscular fat (Longissimus muscle; LM) depot from the fifth through seventh ribs will be excised from both sides of each carcass, subcutaneous fat will be removed, and the intermuscular fat between the LM fat and subcutaneous fat layer will be sampled. Vacuum-packed loin chops will be assessed using a TA-XT2 texture analyzer fitted with a Warner-Bratzler shear attachment. Proximate composition of LM samples will be analyzed according to AOAC (1995) methods. In each grazing trial, all data will be analyzed as a completely randomized design (CRD), with individual lambs as an experimental unit. Once all three grazing trials are completed, pooled data will be also be analyzed as a CRD with factorial (4 x 3 x 3) arrangement than includes grazing season. Under Objective 3 strategic marketing research will be conducted in year 1 to include the activities of market analysis, market selection, and marketing mix determination for the purpose of developing a strategic marketing plan for the specific product of grass-fed hair sheep lamb meat products in Virginia. In year two, market testing will take place in selected specialty food retailers, food service, and direct sale to consumer market outlets (farmers market, community supported agriculture, and on-farm sales). Market testing will be based on research findings from strategic marketing activities using the lamb products that were produced under Objectives 1 and 2. This project proposes to employ the controlled test method involving locations in the test area. Three locations will be chosen in the geographic region of Richmond, Virginia to include one specialty food retailer, one food service operation, and one direct sale to consumer market outlet launch within a test area. Within these specific market environments research control over product, promotion, placement and price will be monitored. The results in test locations will determine consumer acceptance for grass-fed hair sheep lamb meat products. After test marketing is completed and consumer awareness and demand are adequate in test area, (a) two producer education workshops will be conducted, and (b) consumer educational materials (point of purchase recipe cards, nutritional information, etc.) will be developed. Producer workshops will be held at both locations (VA and GA) involved and educational materials will be prepared for both geographic areas through the respective institutions.

Progress 09/01/14 to 08/31/15

Outputs
Target Audience:Sheep Farmer and consumers Changes/Problems: Nothing Reported What opportunities for training and professional development has the project provided?Undergraduate and graduate student training (masters degree) was provided as part of this project at the two cooperating institutions. How have the results been disseminated to communities of interest? Nothing Reported What do you plan to do during the next reporting period to accomplish the goals?Previous trials indicated that lambs had faster growth rates and larger carcasses, but that lambs grazing pasture-only were preferred in taste test and had a more favorable fatty acid composition. A final grazing trial will be conducted in late Fall and Winter with lambs grazing stockpiled fescue. Lambs will be supplemented with soy hull and removed from supplementation at different stages pre-harvest (0, 21, 42 and 63 days). Lambs will be harvested after grazing for 63 days and carcass characteristics and composition. Data will be analyzed to determine the option stage pre-harvest to achieve optimum growth together with a more favorable carcass composition. The lamb cuts produced will be test-marketed in specialty outlets for consumer acceptance. The final lamb crops will be produced in December and again in August to compare the pre- and post weaning survival and growth of purebred hair sheep and wool x hair sheep crossbred lambs.

Impacts
What was accomplished under these goals? Variations in forage quality and availability will influence growth of lambs on pasture, and supplementation of grazing lambs is one option to address this limitation. This study evaluated the effect of supplementing agro by-products, soy hull (13.9% crude protein) and corn gluten feed (17.9% crude protein) on performance of hair sheep and wool x hair sheep lambs during Spring grazing. Thirty-six, 7.5-mo old purebred hair (Barbados Blackbelly and St. Croix) and crossbred wool (Dorset) x hair sheep lambs rotationally grazed predominantly tall fescue pasture (9.0 to 16.7% CP) from late March to early June. Lambs were assigned to a pasture-only, and a soy hull or corn gluten feed-supplemented group balanced by breed type. Lambs grazed as a single group and supplement was provided at 2% body weight daily at individual feeding stations. Body weight and fecal egg counts were recorded at 14-day intervals. The experiment ended after 77 d. Haemonchus contortus represented 84% of the gastrointestinal worm burden. Final body weight and daily were higher (P < 0.001) in crossbred than purebred (42.0 vs. 38.5 kg, and; 185 vs.140 g/; respectively), and supplemented than pasture-only (43.7 vs. 36.8 kg, and 207 vs. 118 g/d; respectively) lambs, but were not different between breed types on pasture-only (breed type x diet interaction: P < 0.05). Final body weight and growth rate were also not different (P > 0.1) between the two supplement types. Fecal egg counts were lower in supplemented than pasture-only lambs, but not affected by breed type. Hot carcass weight was (P < 0.001) in crossbred than purebred lambs, but dressing percentage was not affected by breed type. Furthermore, hot carcass weight was (17.5 or 17.6 vs 13.3 kg) and dressing percentage (45.2 or 44.1 vs. 41.1%) were greater (P < 0.01) in supplemented (SH or CGF) than pasture-only lambs. Loin eye area was larger (15.6 vs. 13.0 cm2: P < 0.05) in crossbred than purebred lambs. All cuts from fore- and hind-saddles were greater (P < 0.01) in crossbred than purebred lambs, except neck cuts, and also heavier (P < 0.01) in supplemented than pasture-only lambs. Consumer acceptance and influence of breed and feed supplementation on consumer ratings of ground hair sheep lamb meat quality characteristics were also investigated in lambs produced in the grazing trial. Ground lamb meat was obtained from carcasses pooled according to production type (A = purebred on pasture-only, B = crossbred on pasture-only, C = purebred supplemented, and D = crossbred supplemented). Customers (n=284) of a local food hub company randomly received a 500-g package of ground lamb labeled either A, B, C, or D with no other information provided. Participants received identical recipes and requested to complete a survey rating each product for selected qualitative characteristics (1=extremely undesirable to 9=extremely desirable). Respondents rated cooked ground lamb from crossbred lambs more desirable (P < 0.03) in both color and tenderness. Participants also rated the color of cooked product (P < 0.04) desirable for supplemented compared to pasture-only ground lamb, while tenderness was rated more desirable (P < 0.03) in pasture-only lambs. Overall taste was influenced by breed and supplementation with ground meat from pasture-only crossbred lambs rated least (P < 0.04) desirable. Results showed supplementation to have a greater impact on growth rate in crossbred than purebred hair sheep lambs, but type of supplement apparently had no effect. Results further indicate that both supplementation and crossbreeding had significant effect on carcass quality under the conditions of this experiment. An evaluation of consumer acceptance of ground meat from local hair sheep lambs could provide an opportunity to enhance profitability for small-scale producers in Virginia.

Publications

  • Type: Journal Articles Status: Published Year Published: 2015 Citation: Wildeus, S., Lee, J., Teutsch, C. D., Nartea T. J. (2015) Effect of breed type, supplementation and sex in rotationally-grazed hair and wool x hair sheep lambs: Growth and gastrointestinal parasites. Proc. Ann. Meet. South. Sect. Am. Soc. Anim. Sci., p. 43.
  • Type: Journal Articles Status: Published Year Published: 2015 Citation: Lee, J., Wildeus, S., Lee, J., Nartea, T. J., Lemma, B., Kouakou, B. (2015) Effect of breed type, supplementation and sex in rotationally-grazed hair and wool x hair sheep lambs: Carcass characteristics. Proc. Ann. Meet. South. Sect. Am. Soc. Anim. Sci., p. 43.
  • Type: Journal Articles Status: Published Year Published: 2015 Citation: Wildeus, S. (2015) Terminal sire mating of landrace hair sheep ewes with Dorset rams: Ewe and pre-weaning lamb performance. Proc. Ann. Meet. South. Sect. Am. Soc. Anim. Sci., p. 43.
  • Type: Journal Articles Status: Published Year Published: 2015 Citation: Lemma, B., Lee, J. H., Wildeus, S., Kaanan G. Kouakou, B. (2015) Chemical composition and quality of fresh lamb from rationally grazed hair and wool x hair sheep lambs as influenced by soy hull supplementation. J. Anim. Sci. Vol. 93, Suppl. s3:168
  • Type: Journal Articles Status: Published Year Published: 2015 Citation: Lemma, B., Lee, J. H., Wildeus, S., Kouakou, B., Kaanan G. (2015) Fatty acid composition of different fat depots from hair and wool x hair sheep supplemented with soy hull on pasture. J. Anim. Sci. Vol. 93, Suppl. s3:791


Progress 09/01/13 to 08/31/14

Outputs
Target Audience: Small scale producers Changes/Problems: Nothing Reported What opportunities for training and professional development has the project provided? Nothing Reported How have the results been disseminated to communities of interest? Nothing Reported What do you plan to do during the next reporting period to accomplish the goals? A second grazing trial will be conducted.

Impacts
What was accomplished under these goals? The initial experiment under this project evaluated growth rates and gastrointestinal parasite burden in hair sheep lambs of two breeds supplemented with three levels of soy hull while rotationally grazing non-toxic endophyte fescue pasture in Spring. Thirty-two, 6-mo old Barbados Blackbelly and St. Croix ram lambs were allocated to four treatment groups balanced by breed, and supplemented with pelleted soy hull (10.0% CP; 50.6% ADF; 52% TDN) at either 0, 1, 2 or 3% of body weight while rotationally-grazing predominantly Max-Q© fescue pasture (12.9 to 14.8% CP; 37.6 to 49.1% ADF; 53 to 62% TDN throughout the grazing period). Lambs grazed as a single group and were moved to new pasture strip at 3 to 6 d intervals based on visual appraisal of forage availability. Supplement was fed daily at individual feeding stations (Calan© gates). There was occasional incomplete consumption of soy hull at the 3% supplementation level, resulting in an actual intake of 2.9% BW. Body weight and condition, fecal egg counts and FAMACHA© anemia score (scale1-5; increasing with paleness) was recorded at 14-d intervals and the experiment terminated after 80 d. Data were analyzed with supplement level and breed as main effects and included starting body weight as a covariate. There were no supplement level by breed interactions. Final body weight and daily gain increased linearly (P < 0.01) from 32.9 to 41.3 kg, and 52 to 157 g/d, respectively, with increasing levels of soy hull supplementation. Breeds also differed (P < 0.01) in final body weight and daily gain (Blackbelly: 36.6 kg and 99 g/d; St. Croix: 38.5 and 122 g/d). Body condition score was higher (P < 0.01) in lambs supplemented with 2 and 3% soy hull than in those with 0 and 1% supplementation. Supplementation and breed had no effect (P > 0.1) on fecal egg counts (mean: 548 eggs/g; ranging from 105 to 1194 eggs/g at individual collections) or FAMACHA score (mean: 1.11), and no lambs were treated with anthelmintics going into or during the experiment. Results indicate that soy hull supplementation can be effective and economically viable means to improved growth performance of hair sheep lambs on pasture, thus reducing the time for lambs to reach a marketable weight.

Publications