MSUE Sheep and Goat Birth Management Workshop Returns

Are you interested in learning how to improve birth management of your herd or flock?
The MSU Small Ruminant Extension team is offering a 4-part webinar series on birth
management that will lead you through a host of topics aimed to improve birth
management of sheep and goats. Each weekly session will last approximately 90 min and
sessions will be recorded to allow future viewing.

Each session will feature seminars, specialized instructional videos and question and
answer sessions with an expert panel to cover each of these topics (live sessions are 7-
8:30 pm each Tuesday evening):
✓ Jan 12: “Nutritional management to optimize birth outcomes in sheep and goats.”
✓ Jan 19: “Optimizing maternal and newborn health: parasite control, vaccination
schedules, treating complications at birth, providing a healthy environment.”
✓ Jan 26: “The normal birth process, birth assistance and newborn care.”
✓ Feb 2: “Identifying challenges on your farm and creating an improvement plan
addressing health management, nutrition and facility improvements.”

Instructors: Richard Ehrhardt Ph.D., Senior Extension Specialist; Mike Metzger M.S.,
extension educator; and Erin Recktenwald Ph.D., extension and research associate.

Participants will learn preventative approaches, assessment skills, and treatment
procedures. Both novice and veteran producers alike will find this program valuable.
Because of the amount and depth of information presented, students have found
attending this program more than once to be valuable.

Registration: $40/farm or family and includes a 40+ page manual, a laminated lamb
hypothermia/starvation treatment poster and access to all recorded sessions (additional
members of the same farm/ family may receive additional manuals and posters for $20
per set). Contact Carla McLachlan for more details (phone: 517-432-5402; email:

Online registration only for this event and it may be completed at: Choose the MSU Extension tab. Those that
register before Jan 1, 2021 will receive the manual and poster before the sessions begin.
Those that register later will receive these items also but likely not before the beginning
of the first session.

Birth Management Clinic flyer 2021

#GivingTuesday: MSPA Youth Fund

This year, the MSPA Annual Youth Auction will not be taking place during the Virtual Shepherds Weekend in January. Instead, we are asking for direct donations to be made to support the MSPA youth fund. This fund helps to support scholarships, awards, and educational events across the state of Michigan for youth engaged in the sheep industry.
Contact MSPA Treasurer, Pat Schloss at to make your donation today!

MSPA Board of Directors Candidates

Jason Alberda
Ottawa County | Direct Marketer, Seedstock Producer
I enjoy raising sheep, have a fair bit of experience with rotational grazing, as well as extending our grazing season utilizing cover crops, and stockpiled pasture.  Have been raising traditional type polled Dorsets since 2002.  Have been a member of NSIP since 2007 to help us select and sell sheep with production traits.  I have been a teacher at a Career Center for High School students for over 20 years. I have been benefiting as a member of the MSPA for many years and enjoy being part of the sheep industry.

Ben Bartlett
Alger County | Commercial
Ben and his wife Denise run about 350 spring lambing ewes in the central Upper Peninsula.  The lambs are weaned to pasture and then sold as feeder lambs about November.  Pasture is our main crop with an emphasis on soil health and low-cost production.  We make all our own hay, about 70% as baleage, and also have about 20 red Angus beef cows. We have been members of MSPA for over 30 years and believe MSPA is a vital cog in the success of the Michigan Sheep Industry and a critical source of education and support for everyone in the sheep business. I look forward to the special opportunity to serve on the MSPA board.

Sy Caryl
Genesee County | Feeder lamb Producer, Lamb feeder, Direct Marketer, Wool Producer
I am active in both sheep production and shearing. I would like to bring my knowledge and offer what I can to the board.



David Scales
Chippewa County | Feeder lambs, Club lambs, Seedstock
I have experience managing large numbers of both commercial and purebred sheep as well as utilizing reproductive technologies to streamline the breeding and lambing process and better utilize labor resources. I can relate to producers of all sizes as I have been around operations that rely on hand feeding with a 5-gallon bucket as well as those that utilize a TMR mixer and drive through feed alleys.  I hope that my diverse background can help mentor new producers into the industry as well as increase conversation between existing producers to adopt new ideas and better management practices.

Tony Wernette
Mecosta County | Feeder Lamb producer, Lamb Feeder, Direct Marketer, Wool Producer
I have always found MSPA activities gratifying and would like to help continue its legacy. I like running science experiments. I have been on Farm Bureau and FFA boards so am familiar with the business process. I am currently serving on the MSPA Board to finish the term of Cameron Lauwers, and I am serving as the Chair of the Commercial Producer committee.  I hope to continue in both positions.


Brenda Reau
Monroe County | Seedstock
I am active in a broad cross-section of sheep industry organizations that provides me with an ongoing connection with what is going on in the industry across the country. I serve on the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center board as a producer representative, where we review and fund research proposals and projects to support the industry with funds from the Farm Bill. I also serve on the board of the United Suffolk Sheep Association and the National Sheep Improvement Program. Our Suffolk flock is enrolled in NSIP, and we produce breeding stock with EBV’s. Ninety percent of our lamb crop is either sold for breeding stock or retained in our flock for breeding. About half of our sales are to other Suffolk breeders, and the other half is to commercial ram buyers. Many of our rams go to large commercial operations in Wyoming, Montana, and Utah. As a seed stock producer, I am very interested in creating sheep that can excel in growth and produce excellent carcasses for the commercial market. My husband Mark and I have been married 42 years and have been raising sheep for 40 of those years.

Cindy Cieciwa
Genesee County | Seedstock Producer
As owner/operator of Pitchfork Ranch,  I have been a Michigan sheep producer since 1986, raising the dual purpose breeds of Romney, BFL, and Teeswater. I understand the perspective and value that we small producers can bring to the table. Working with youth as a 4H sheep judge or through our sales to youth, marketing our sheep and related products via our website and attendance at sheep events, and showing and selling breeding stock on a local and national level has provided me with opportunities to experience many ways of accomplishing goals and furthering education regarding sheep. I have served 12 years on the Board of American Romney Breeders including as Vice President and as President. I also served several years as the Treasurer of the Bluefaced Leicester Union of North America. One year ago I retired from Trinity Health as a Vice President of Operations, allowing me vastly more time to work with our sheep. I believe given my professional experiences, serving on the Board of ARBA and the BLU, and raising sheep for over 30 years provides an experience as a leader and the ability to work with others.

Jason Scramlin
Barry County | Feeder lambs, Lamb feeder, Direct Market, Seedstock
I have many years of involvement and employment with the Farm Bureau. I understand the policy, non-profit organizations, and member-based associations. I am passionate about Michigan agriculture and the sheep industry. I enjoy helping others, networking, and mentorship/ continued education. Our farming operation focuses on rotational pasture management, small flock management, and more recently, genetics. We are in year 2 of a transition into purebred Polypays and the NSIP program. Additionally, I sever on the board of directors of the Farmer Veteran Coalition (Michigan Chapter). I enjoy the sheep industry and the people involved with raising sheep. I want to do my part to serve this community, increase my knowledge as a shepherd, and enjoy volunteer leadership. I personally believe Michigan has a lot to offer the ag community and our state is a prime location for a thriving sheep industry.

April Zeilinger
Saginaw County | Wool Processing
I have always volunteered in some way; it has been two years since I have been in a volunteer position and would love to give back to the industry that has been so great to us.  It will be a great learning experience for me to see the inside of how hard our producers are working and the issues they face.  In my previous employment, I was a Project Manager and Systems Analyst.  I have worked in several different levels in business, I have always been ambitious and a high contributor in any position I have held. I currently run our social media and I created our website that we launched in March 2020.


Michigan Sheep Producers Association Youth Scholarship

Due to the generosity of our members donating and buying items in our youth auction scholarships will be offered again this year. The scholarships will be awarded during the virtual Shepherd’s Weekend. Please review the guidelines below and encourage qualified candidates to apply.

Applicant requirements:
Applicants may be a full-time freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior at a college, university or technical school.
Applicants may apply for the scholarship as many years as they meet the requirements but may only receive the scholarship once.

Scholarship scoring:
50 possible points on experience and involvement with the sheep industry
25 possible points on academic record
10 possible points on community service
15 possible points on the essay
25 bonus points if the applicant or their parent has been a member of MSPA for two years or more.
(In the case of a tie, it will be broken on the basis of a score for experience and involvement in the sheep industry.)

Questions can be directed to Brenda Reau at or 734-755-8285.
The application can be found on the MSPA website. All applications and supporting materials must be emailed in one package to The deadline is 11:59 pm on December 13.


USDA Co-hosts Free Webinar on Nov. 12 on Livestock Risk Management

Contact: USDA Press

WASHINGTON, Nov. 4, 2020 – The Extension Risk Management Education Program and U.S. Department of Agriculture are hosting a webinar on Nov. 12 for agricultural producers and professionals focused on livestock risk management. The webinar is free to attend and will provide information on livestock markets, price risk, and risk management options available through USDA.

“We strongly encourage farmers and ranchers to attend this webinar,” said Bill Northey, USDA Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation. “The information that will be presented here will be invaluable to livestock producers who have an interest in the various risk management tools available to them through USDA.”

“I brought my experience as a rancher with me when I came to USDA, and I know firsthand the challenges that America’s livestock producers face,” USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Greg Ibach said. “This livestock risk management webinar is just one example of our efforts to offer timely resources to cattle producers and others in the U.S. fed beef supply chain so they can make informed business decisions. USDA remains dedicated to addressing the concerns and strengthening the interests of livestock producers through forward-thinking actions that balance every segment of the nation’s livestock industry with the direction of today’s marketplace.”

The webinar is scheduled for 2-3 p.m. Eastern on Thursday, November 12. Producers can register at

In addition to Northey and Ibach, other speakers include:

  • Brad Lubben, University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the North Central Extension Risk Management Education Center – introduction and moderator
  • Shannon Neibergs, Washington State University and the Western Extension Risk Management Education Center – livestock economics and moderator
  • Elliott Dennis, University of Nebraska-Lincoln – price risk management concepts, tools, and considerations
  • Brandon Willis, Ranchers Insurance (Utah) and former USDA Risk Management Agency Administrator – insurance products, sales, and service

The webinar is a collaboration between USDA and the Extension Risk Management Education program, a USDA-funded program that provides regionally-based competitive grants for producer-focused educational projects. Learn more at

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, November 17, USDA will host the first in a series of four evening webinars from 7-9 p.m. Eastern with guest speakers from three regional USDA Cattle and Carcass Training Centers (CCTCs), the CME Group, and USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). These webinars are designed to assist cattle producers, feeders, and others in the U.S. fed beef supply chain who want to better understand the reporting, delivery, and grading of feeder cattle, live cattle, and carcasses, particularly relating to CME live cattle futures. The webinars are free, but registration is required.