1. Thanks to everyone who completed the member outreach survey!
We had 90 members (out of 144) who responded and we are so grateful to have the information you so generously provided. Your BBSAI Board of Directors will be examining all the feedback and counting the numbers, and report back to you as soon as we can. Even though the official deadline has passed, it is never too late to submit the information, just reach out to our wonderful survey compiler John Carlton at firstname.lastname@example.org to do it now or even request a mailed copy to complete on paper without a computer. You may be hearing from a volunteer by phone to get your opinions if you did not complete the survey yet.
2. BBSAI Email Group Forum
Invitations have gone out to all members, but in case yours got lost, email our recording secretary, Bru Katzenbach at email@example.com, to join the group. There are already some interesting discussions going – on new marketing opportunities, sheep shows, record keeping software, educational webinars, white markings in BBs & ABs, when to stop breeding older ewes, and fascinating case studies on polioencephalomalacia and orf (soremouth). Don’t miss out on the conversation!
3. Get acquainted with a BBSAI member
Doug Noyes and his wife Tina raise American Blackbelly sheep in Alberta Canada. Doug has graciously volunteered to work on the AB Breed Standards Committee and is on the ABORC. He also shared this information about his farm below, and will receive 2 free registrations as a small (and incommensurate!) reward for the time he spent writing it. Thanks Doug.
We bought 160 acres in Alberta Canada in 2005 from my grandparents which included 25 acres not suitable for crops. Previously they had raised cattle which kept the native grass under control, but that was many years past and the fences were no longer effective. Sheep seemed a logical solution since my wife Tina and I both worked full time and needed something low maintenance. Otherwise we are like many other small farmers and have raised heritage turkeys and chickens for our own consumption and for sale.
We’ve only raised American Blackbelly sheep, and have been diligently building up our flock and genetics. We currently have 62 breeding ewes and 9 rams. We have several bloodlines in each gender and use them to alternate breedings. That enables us to provide customers with appropriate starter flocks. We have worked very diligently to increase carcass size in our flock as well as horn length and mass in rams. Most customers want the wider flaring rams similar to the wild “thin horn” mountain sheep such as Dall and Stone Sheep. We have produced some spectacular breeding stock as a result.
We lamb in late April and early May to take advantage of spring weather. We only retain stock that we either will breed or are worthy of supplying to others as breeding stock. All others are sold for meat.
Although our facilities have certainly evolved over time, I firmly believe American Blackbelly sheep do not require fancy barns or high maintenance. We use three sided calf shelters to provide protection from wind, rain, and the sun. Otherwise we have a barn we built mainly for sorting, treating, and occasionally for the rare ewe with unbonded lambs.
Our pastures are perimeter and cross fenced with 47” “field fence” with a single barbed top wire at 51”. We have a hot wire 7” off the ground on the outside perimeter to deter coyotes. That hot wire is very effective; however, it is difficult to maintain due to grass and other vegetation grounding it out. We do have a llama as a guardian and she does appear to do her job.
Our flock does very well on a mix of native pasture and seeded hay from June- Sept and fed haylage bales the remainder of the year. In extremely cold weather and when flushing ewes prior to breeding, we will feed whole oats.
We vaccinate with 8 way vaccine prior to lambing and deworm in the spring and fall. We treat the entire flock twice yearly. Normally we use ivermectin, however we have used Valbazen occasionally in the fall in place of ivermectin. We have participated in the University of Calgary Sheep Parasite Study for several years. We send in yearly feces samples and details around our flock treatment program. They provide analysis and a report detailing the number and type(s) of parasites (egg load) found in the samples. We have consistently had the lowest egg count of all the producers who have submitted samples. On rare occasions, we encounter sheep that need individual treatment. In those cases we will have the vet analyze the feces, provide recommendations, and we will treat accordingly.
We pasture lambed for the first few years and then moved to lambing in corrals/maternity pens. With an increased number of ewes it was difficult to monitor the ewes as well as to administer selenium and ear tags to the lambs. We administer Selenium E and Vitamin AD to lambs at birth, and to ewes 4-6 weeks prior to lambing.
Every environmental condition seems to work against us, but we and the sheep persevere. Doesn’t that sound like a typical farmer/rancher? We tend to see a lot of extremes here in Alberta but AB sheep are truly adaptable and resilient. Our weather typically ranges from -40 C (-40 F) to +30 C (+86 F) ambient temps and at times with wind chill factors dropping temps to -50 C (-58F). Snowfall is also quite variable in our area, as we live near the mountains and we experience what are called “chinooks” which are warm west winds that can raise temps and melt snow quickly.
Our farm was homesteaded by my grandfathers’ grandfather in 1901 and continuously farmed by my family since. We were recognized by the Alberta Government as a Century Farm and are proud of that accomplishment.
4. BBSAI New Logo Proposal
The Communications Committee is working on a new logo in an effort to better represent both breeds registered within the BBSAI and modernize the association’s marketing strategies. A sample of one proposed logo is below. Please take a look and send us any feedback you may have (to Pam Hand at firstname.lastname@example.org). Thanks so very much.