By: From S.D. Extension iGrow, The Brookings Register 

BROOKINGS –  During the 81st annual convention of the South Dakota Sheep Growers Association (SDSGA) held Sept. 28-29 in Brookings, two award-winning sheep operations were recognized with the South Dakota Master Lamb Producer award.

This 35-year-old honor, was bestowed upon Tom and Marilyn Schwebach of Egan and the Erk Ranch of Newell.

“These two operations are outstanding examples, showcasing the quality of the South Dakota sheep industry,” said Jeff Held, professor and SDSU Extension sheep specialist. “And, what makes it even better, is that they have the next generation involved to move forward into the future.”

Tom and Marilyn Schwebach, Egan

Tom and Marilyn Schwebach run an 850-head commercial flock of Ile de France ewes which have highly productive maternal lines producing outstanding finished lambs for the packer and reputation replacement females for the industry.

Unique flock management features include: a flock health plan of OPP-free (ovine progressive pneumonia) status for the past 20 years and a grazing management plan implemented 15 years ago, in cooperation with the South Dakota Grasslands Council, resulting in a 50 percent increase in grazing capacity.

The Erk Ranch, Newell

For more than 100 years, the Erk Ranch has produced feeder lambs and high quality wool in Butte County. Currently the operation runs more than 1,000 Rambouillet ewes including 300 registered animals.

Range rams offered from the Erk Ranch to the industry have a strong reputation for superior wool traits, both fine fiber diameter and long staple length. For decades they have worked to improve economically important wool traits by selecting studs based objective measures of wool quality.

Future flock genetic advancements in wool quality traits will be aided by wool Expected Breeding Value (EBV) values generated from the National Sheep Improvement Program and individual ewe performance data collected using the Shearwell Data System.

New leadership

Elections were also held during the convention. Sheep producer, Wade Kopren, Bison was elected to serve as president, as Rufus DeZeeuw, Elkton, completed his two-year term serving as president.

Three producers were elected to serve on the board of directors: Kris Schweigert, Gregory; Lisa Dennert, Frederick and Scott Kilber, Ipswich. These directors will serve four-year terms, filling vacated director seats left open by Steve Clements, Tom Dosch and Tim Flint.

Presentations were also provided by Jeff Held, professor and SDSU Extension sheep specialist and Dave Ollila, SDSU Extension sheep field specialist. The SDSU Extension staff reviewed current research and SDSU Extension programming. SDSGA and SDSU Extension have a long-standing partnership supporting the South Dakota sheep industry.

Doerner wins

Among the winners of the special contests at the convention was  Mina Doerner of Brookings won the knitted accessory contest.

To learn more about South Dakota Sheep Growers Associations contact Lisa Surber, executive secretary SDSGA by email or online.

And, for more information about upcoming SDSU Extension sheep activities, contact Held by email or 688-5433 or Dave Ollila, SDSU Extension Sheep Field Specialist by email or 605-394-1722.

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