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Hair Sheep Production Featured at DREC Field Day
North Dakota Ag Connection - 08/10/2018

Management, marketing and genetics of Dorper hair sheep will be the focus of a field day Sept. 6 at North Dakota State University's Dickinson Research Extension Center (DREC) ranch headquarters southwest of Manning. The event will begin at 9 a.m.

"Hair sheep are a significantly growing segment of the U.S. sheep industry, and the DREC sheep field day will allow producers to get to know the opportunities that exist," says Kris Ringwall, center director.

Part of the field day will be on management of cattle and hair sheep in similar environments. The current DREC hair sheep herd involves Dorper and Royal White breeds. Center staff also have had experience with Katahdin hair sheep. Center staff manage the sheep herd in conjunction with the center's beef cattle herd.

Other field day topics include the value of lamb meat, the genetics of hair sheep and preparing grass-fed lamb meat.

Hair sheep have shown they can be raised in the region, says Vladimir Kutka, who is working with DREC Extension efforts to prepare for the field day.

"They are hardy, with superior resistance to disease and parasites, easy and prolific lambing, and resilience to intense weather," he adds. "Some specialized operations are able to lamb three times every two years, or shift lambing to the summer to target specialty winter sales."

Dorper hair sheep have been known to grow well with minimal grain input, and effectively graze on lower-quality forage and weeds that cows would avoid, according to Kutka.

One benefit of Dorper sheep is their ability to comingle with cattle.

"Dorper sheep can even graze alongside a cattle herd without competition for forage between the herd and the flock," Kutka says. "They gain weight easily, and produce tender and mild-flavored meat."

Field day presenters will include Garry and Wanda Ottmar, DREC ranch manager and research specialist, respectively; Travis Hoffman, NDSU assistant professor and Extension sheep specialist; Lauren Hulsman Hanna, NDSU assistant professor for genetic improvement of livestock; Kortni Ringwall, executive chef from Minneapolis, Minn.; and Kris Ringwall, who also is an NDSU Extension beef specialist. In addition, local producers will share their hair sheep production experiences.

For more information about the field day or research efforts at the DREC, contact the center at 701-456-1100 or visit its website at https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/DickinsonREC/.

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