Sheep Industry News February 2023

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SheepIndustry NEWS Volume 27, Issue 2 February 2023

How's Your Wool Looking?

SheepIndustry NEWS Volume 27, Issue 2 February 2023

A Look Inside A light snow begins to fall on a November Sunday afternoon in Central New York as John Lemondes heads to the pasture where he’ll round up the final 20 head of lambs to fulfill his 2022 slaughter commitments. Most of the family is involved in the process. 12 Quality Counts For Producers Selling Their Wool With wool prices lower in the past year it might be tempting to cut corners on shearing day, but industry experts say quality counts more than ever as wool growers look to sell their 2023 clips. 22 Maneotis Selected as NLFA Executive Director With 35 years of experience producing sheep, goats and cattle on the family ranch near Craig, Colo., Karen Maneotis has been selected as the new executive director for the National Lamb Feeders Association. 16 The Elly's Acres Army


It's time to think about shearing in many parts of the country, and ASI's Preparing for Shearing brochure can help you do just that.

Departments 4 President’s Notes 6 Market Report 9 ASI Member Listing 24 Obituaries 27 Breeders’ Directory 29 Industry Calendar 30 The Last Word

26 Early Season Lambing

February 2023 • Sheep Industry News • 3


Goals for the Future

A t the annual convention held recently in Fort Worth, Texas, the ASI Executive Board identified major goals for our organization to work toward in 2023. 1. Continue to be a proactive force on legislative issues effecting sheep producers. Congress will be renewing the Farm Bill in 2023, and we will need bipartisan support from all our regions to ensure that our industry priorities are included. 2. Continue the work of our financial study committee to identify and vet potential sources for future funding. 3. Continue the advancements that we have made in increasing communications within our organization and industry, along with sharing our positive story with the general public. 4. Continue the progress we have made in collaborating with the American Lamb Board, which allows us to capitalize on the strengths of a united industry. 5. Continue to encourage our young producers to be active par ticipants in our organization and our industry. None of these goals are easily at ASI VISION Premier Protein , Premier Fiber Environmentally Regenerative, Economically Sustainable ASI MISSION of being good stewards of our land and of our flocks so that we can en sure a sustainable future is so very valuable to our consumers. Please share your stories through your actions, social media and your involvement in your communities so that the world knows how special it is to be a sheep producer. It has been an honor to serve as president of ASI for these past two years. I thank you for your continuous support and the never-ending encouragement from my family, especially my partner and husband, Bill. Our future as an industry is bright. The new officers of ASI that were recently elected are outstanding leaders, and with your support they will continue to lead our organization forward in a positive manner. Our consumers love to eat and cook lamb and appreciate the outstanding characteristics of wool. We are fortunate to have numerous young scientists and educa tors that are eager to help us find improved ways to become more productive and profitable. And, most importantly, we have many sheep producers who are proud to raise premium products in a sustainable manner. Let’s keep moving forward. As Will Rogers said, “Never let yesterday use up too much of today.” My best. To support, promote and safeguard sheep production in the United States – representing and advancing the interests of member organizations, industry partners and individual sheep producers with advocacy, knowledge-based insights, communications, research and education. To identify, establish, advise, direct and/or support enterprises that benefit members. tainable, but they are worthy of our time and efforts. Telling the story of sheep production from the viewpoints

4 • Sheep Industry News •

SheepIndustry NEWS February 2023: Volume 27, Issue 2

We’re committed to you. The rancher, the family and the flock. We partner with you to protect and nurture the American lamb industry so that together we can provide consumers a quality lamb product.

AMERICAN SHEEP INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION INC. 9785 Maroon Circle, Suite 360 Englewood, CO 80112-2692 Phone: 303-771-3500 • Fax: 303-771-8200 •

• Healthier Flock • Higher Lambing Percentage • Increased Profit


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ASI Office Staff: Peter Orwick, Executive Director Rita Kourlis Samuelson, Deputy Director/Wool Marketing Larry Kincaid, Chief Financial Officer Erica Sanko, Director of Analytics & Production Programs Zahrah Khan, Operations Manager Christa Rochford, Wool Marketing Programs Manager Heather Pearce, Wool Production Programs Manager Chris Jones, Administrative Assistant The Sheep Industry News is published monthly as the official publication of the American Sheep Industry Association Inc. SUBSCRIPTIONS: Payment of member dues in an ASI affiliated state organization entitles a member to a subscription. For non-members, the subscription rate is $50 per year. ADVERTISING INFORMATION: Rates available at Deadline is the fifth of the month preceding the cover date. All advertising is subject to publisher’s approval. Advertisers must assume all liability for their advertising content. Publisher maintains the right to cancel advertising for nonpayment or reader complaint about service or product. Publisher assumes no liability for products or services advertised in Sheep Industry News .

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A Tradition of Integrity

Call us about selling your wool at our sales or by Private Treaty. It’s not just our motto, It’s our reputation.

The American Sheep Industry Association is an equal opportunity provider and employer.



www. r oswe l lwoo l . com 1 - 8 0 0 - 6 2 4 - WO O L Mike Corn, Manager

Roswell, NM

Bakersfield, CA

Mertzon, TX

February 2023 • Sheep Industry News • 5

Market Report

DAVID ANDERSON, PH.D. Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

2023 BeginsWith Higher Prices

L ive lamb prices began to increase late in the year providing some optimism for 2023. Ample total supplies are avail able in the retail market to begin the year and they should build seasonally. There are some big factors to watch this year that will impact markets. PRICES Live lamb prices began to increase slowly in the last quarter of 2022. Slaughter weight lambs in the 110- to 130-pound category increased from a weekly average of $97 per cwt. to $140 per cwt. by year’s end. While they have increased, they are still below the $230 per cwt. at this time last year and they remain below the five-year average. The average of traditional feeder lamb prices increased also from about $130 to $235 cwt. during the last four months of the year. We often talk about the traditional versus the non-traditional market and the prices relative to each other. It’s important to remember that they are both lambs even though they might be going through different market channels. The prices for lambs

going through those market channels move together. The non-traditional market – as measured by prices in New Holland, Penn. – declined in 2022 like traditional market lambs, but the level of prices was higher. By the end of 2022, the aver age of feeder lamb prices was higher than New Holland prices. The lines between these two markets will continue to blur in the future. While live animal prices were building higher, in the lamb meat area prices for major cuts continued to slide through the end of the year. Given evidence of struggling demand that has caused sharply lower live prices and lower wholesale prices, evidence is that retail prices remain high. Lower prices will have to translate to retail markets to rebuild demand. Retail pork and chicken prices are beginning to decline. Retail beef prices have been declining for months and are now lower than they were last year. So, competing meat prices in the meat case might argue for some lower lamb prices.

SUPPLIES Production was below the year before in the fourth quarter of

2022. While lamb and yearling slaughter was increasing season ally late in the year, it was less than in 2021. Dressed weights corrected lower and fell back below the five-year average and back to last year’s level. Weights – on average – aren’t suggesting burdensome supplies this Spring. Combined with reduced slaughter, domestic supplies should support prices. The struggles of lamb demand and consumption has led to the building of cold storage stocks. Cold storage supplies hit almost 30 million pounds in November – the latest available report. That is equal to the five-year average and more than the 23.4 million pounds in November 2021. It will be important to see stocks drawn

6 • Sheep Industry News •

down by the Spring holiday demand. Imports have remained large. The seasonal decline in imports from March to September was muted. Imports in November hit almost 25 million pounds. Imports combined with cold storage stocks will offset any moderation in domestic production. One area of interest for future domestic production is mature sheep slaughter. Throughout 2022, weekly slaughter was about equal to the 2016 to 2020 average. Slaughter in 2021 was elevated and contributed to a smaller ewe flock. Restrained slaughter in 2022 suggests any change in the ewe flock in USDA’s inventory might be small. WOOL AND LAMB TRADE The industry is highly dependent on trade. Rarely would talk about markets not include some discussion of imports and exports or action in the Australian wool market that determine prices worldwide. Often these discussions would mention exchange rates. A stronger U.S. dollar versus Australian and New Zealand curren cies leads to more meat imports. Changing exchange rates lead to changing relative prices in each country. In general, the U.S. dollar has strengthened against most major trading partners' currencies this year. Higher U.S. interest rates have boosted the dollar and differing prospects for economic growth around the world have similarly helped the dollar. Using monthly average exchange rate data, the U.S. dollar versus the Australian dollar was 1.48 in December compared to 1.40 in December 2021 – about a 6-percent appreciation. The U.S. dollar appreciated about 7 percent compared to the New Zealand dollar in December. This rate of appreciation was similar to the Euro. Com pared to the British pound, the dollar was about 9 percent larger in value. While the dollar has gained in value, year-over-year, the appre ciation has moderated in recent months. For example, in October 2022, the U.S. to Australian dollar rate was 1.57 compared to 1.35 in October 2021. That exchange rate had declined to 1.48 in December 2022. But both remain higher than the 1.39 in January. That general increase in value of the dollar through much of 2022 and some moderation in November and December holds for most major currencies. It's likely that the U.S. dollar remains relatively stronger than our trading partners' currencies compared to the prior year in coming months. That will act to keep meat imports large. It will affect rela tive prices in the wool market. We’ll have more on wool prices in future articles as the market heats up following the holidays. SUMMARY There is some reason for optimism for lamb prices in the new year, but a lot depends on demand recovery. We should expect higher seasonal live lamb prices as we move closer to the spring holidays. Imports and stocks will most likely restrain price growth.

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February 2023 • Sheep Industry News • 7

USDA Issues Appointments To American Lamb Board

USDA/AGRICULTURAL MARKETING SERVICE T ary 2023 and end January 2026. Newly appointed members are:

Sheep Industry Improvement Center Board of Directors. The newly appointed members will serve three-year terms from January 2023 to January 2026. Newly appointed members are: • Producer – Faye F. Schalesky, Faith, South Dakota • Expert in Finance and Management – Robert Buchholz, Eldo rado, Texas The board is composed of seven voting members and two non voting members. Voting members include four active U.S. sheep producers, two members with expertise in finance and manage ment and one member with expertise in lamb, lamb product or wool marketing. Non-voting members include USDA’s Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs and Under Sec retary for Research, Education and Economics. More information about the center is available on The National Sheep Industry Improvement Center was es tablished as part of the 2008 Farm Bill and administers a grant program designed to improve the infrastructure of the U.S. sheep industry by strengthening and enhancing the production and marketing of sheep and sheep products. The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service provides oversight of the center. 500 head of lambs annually. At least one feeder must feed less than 5,000 head of lambs annually and at least one must feed more than 5,000 head of lambs annually. More information about the board and a list of board members is available on the Agricultural Marketing Service American Lamb Board webpage at promotion/lamb and on the board’s website at lambresourcecenter. com. Since 1966, Congress has authorized the development of indus try-funded research and promotion boards to provide a framework for agricultural industries to pool their resources and combine efforts to develop new markets, strengthen existing markets and conduct important research and promotion activities. AMS provides oversight of 22 boards, paid for by industry as sessments, which helps ensure fiscal accountability and program integrity.

he U.S. Department of Agriculture announced in January the appointment of four members to each serve three-year terms on the American Lamb Board. The terms begin Janu

• Jeff Ebert, Saint George, Kansas – Producer (100 or less head) • Gary Visintainer, Craig, Colorado – Producer (Greater than 500 head)

• Don Hawk, Danville, Ohio – Feeder (At Large) • Karissa Isaacs, Milliken, Colorado – First Handler

The 13-member American Lamb Board is composed of six producers, three feeders, three first handlers and one seedstock producer. Two producers appointed to the board must own 100 or less head of lambs annually; one producer must own 101 to 500 head of lambs annually; and three producers must own more than

Two Producers Appointed To Sheep Center Board


he U.S. Department of Agriculture announced in January the appointment of one producer and an expert in finance and management to each serve as members on the National

8 • Sheep Industry News •



Alabama Meat Goat & Sheep Producers 334-613-4221 • ASI Women 435-528-7570 • ArizonaWool Producers Association 520-560-4202 • Arkansas State Sheep Council 870-853-7404 • CaliforniaWool Growers Association 916-444-8122 • ColoradoWool Growers Association 970-874-1433 • Connecticut Sheep Breeders Association 860-819-8339 • Meat Sheep Alliance of Florida 352-502-2564 • Georgia Sheep &Wool Growers Association 706-340-1098 • Hawaii Sheep and Goat Association 808-775-8075 • IdahoWool Growers Association 208-344-2271 • Illinois Lamb &Wool Producers Inc. 573-205-9208 • Indiana Sheep Association 317-896-2213 • Kentucky Sheep &Wool Producers Association 502-682-7780 • Maine Sheep Breeders Association 207-324-1582 • Maryland Sheep Breeders Association 410-746-5768 • Massachusetts Federation of Sheep Associations 508-829-4556 • Michigan Sheep Producers Association 616-610-5628 • Minnesota Lamb &Wool Producers Association 320-760-5727 • Missouri Sheep Producers Inc. 573-578-0497 • MontanaWool Growers Association 406-442-1330 • National Lamb Feeders Association 605-224-0224 • Iowa Sheep Industry Association 641-625-4248 • Kansas Sheep Association 620-393-5204 •

Nebraska Sheep & Goat Producers Association 308-386-8378 • NevadaWool Growers Association 775-934-8860 • New Hampshire Sheep &Wool Growers Garden State Sheep Breeders Inc. (N.J.) 609-947-2260 • New MexicoWool Growers Inc. 505-247-0584 • Empire Sheep Producers Cooperative (N.Y.) 585-367-2775 • North Carolina Sheep Producers Assoc. Inc. 919-522-4110 • North Dakota Lamb &Wool Producers Assoc. 701-333-8009 • Ohio Sheep Improvement Association 614-499-2931 • Oregon Sheep Growers Association 503-364-5462 • Pennsylvania Sheep &Wool Growers Association 814-880-3314 • Rhode Island Sheep Cooperative 401-578-2012 • South Carolina Sheep Industries Association 864-360-3222 • South Dakota Sheep Growers Association 406-581-7772 • Tennessee Sheep Producers Association 615-519-7796 • Texas Sheep & Goat Raisers’ Association 325-655-7388 • UtahWool Growers Association 435-915-6119 • Vermont Sheep & Goat Association 802-899-2104 • Virginia Sheep Producers Association 540-231-9159 • Washington State Sheep Producers 360-999-8118 • West Virginia Shepherds Federation 304-445-1516 • Wisconsin Sheep Breeders Cooperative 608-743-9080 •

Susan Shultz Ohio President

Brad Boner Wyoming Vice President

Ben Lehfeldt Montana Secretary/Treasurer

Peter Orwick Colorado Executive Director

WyomingWool Growers Association 307-265-5250 •

February 2023 • Sheep Industry News • 9

SHEEP SHOT Supper On Winter Pastures Wisconsin's Carrie Flores submitted this photo (taken in February 2022) in the 2022 ASI Photo Contest.

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February 2023 • Sheep Industry News • 11

Quality Counts For Producers Looking To Sell Their Wool W ith wool prices lower in the past year it might be tempting to cut corners on shearing day, but in dustry experts say quality counts more than ever wool marketing for the association. "Most of our producers have done a good job in recent years of implementing the steps necessary to produce a quality wool clip. And that makes it easier to market American wool both domestically and inter nationally."

as wool growers look to sell their 2023 clips. There's certainly hope that the new year will bring a turn around in the industry. The Australian wool market returned from its annual three-week recess just as this issue went to press. Prices were up slightly in the first sale of the new year. In addition, the market was up three of the final four weeks to close out 2022. "My crystal ball is pretty foggy," said Darrell Keese of Keese International in San Angelo, Texas. I hope that prices will be at least as good as last year for 24 micron and finer. But there's a lot of wool in barns around the country and China hasn't bounced back yet. It was a really quiet fall. If we'd had more activity then, I'd be more optimistic." In a stagnant market, quality counts more than ever. "When the market is like this, the lesser-prepared wools ei ther get lower bids or, in some cases, no bids at all," Keese said. "Now is the time for wool producers to do their best to prepare their wools for sale. Buyers are always looking for quality. That doesn't change. They want wools to be prepared properly. If it isn't, there are going to be discounts." With that in mind, the following pages offer steps for every producer to put their best foot forward during shearing. The tips are taken from ASI's Preparing for Shearing brochure. Email Heather Pearce at to request cop ies of the brochure. While you can't turn a 26-micron wool into an 18-micron wool on shearing day, you can certainly make your wool clip more desirable to buyers by following these generally-accepted practices. "Tags and bellies might not be worth much, but if you keep the dirt and contamination out of them, they'll probably be worth something," Keese said. "A clean shearing area makes a big difference in the quality. Shearing day is so important. I've seen lots of wool clips that didn't sell for what they could have because they weren't prepared correctly." The good news is that American wool producers seem to be getting the message in recent years. Clips are coming in cleaner and more well-prepared than ever. "We just don't want to see producers let their guard down on quality because wool prices have been down in the past year," said ASI Deputy Director Rita Samuelson, who coordinates

Regardless of the price, wool producers are still selling a product that must meet customer demands for staple length, micron, etc, said Anodyne's Haynes Burnside. "If you can't meet those standards, then they won't be buy ing your wool," he added. "Contamination adds costs on our end, so quality is important." Burnside said there's still wool available from the past two seasons, but that some of that has been moving in recent months. "I prefer to have a sense of optimism," he said. "A lot will depend on how and when things open up again in China. But we're seeing places in South America and Southeast Asia filling in some of those holes in the supply chain. That could drive prices to a new normal, but it's too early in the year to know what that new normal might be. There's no doubt that well prepared clips always hold up well in the market."

Skirting is an important step when it comes to producing a quality wool clip.

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Preparing for Shearing Remember, a fleece’s quality and value can be significantly increased – or diminished – on shearing day

5-30 DAYS BEFORE SHEARING • Prepare holding pens * Clean from all contaminants such as twine, brush, weeds, shavings, straw • Prepare shearing area * Shearing Board/Floor- A solid, clean shearing floor is essential, such as a raised board or a solid wood floor on the ground (such as 2 4’x8’ sheets of plywood). Never use tarps or carpet. 2-5 MONTHS BEFORE SHEARING • Schedule shearers • Schedule extra labor as needed * Sheep handlers * Wool handlers/classer • Order supplies * Wool packs/bags, clips and markers * Veterinary supplies, including antiseptic spray, antibiotic medication, fly ointment * Other supplies such as disinfectant, insecticides, wormers, vaccines, hoof trimmers, branding fluid • Reduce wool contaminants throughout the year (such as poly, paint, hair, colored fibers, vegetable matter, burrs, etc.) • Smooth, but not slick or rough • Easy to sweep and keep clean • Large enough for each shearer to have ample space to shear • Covered to provide protection from the elements • Clean * Overhead machine mounting site, if needed by shearer * Electrical outlets within 6 feet of the shearing area * Lighting as needed • Prepare wool handling and packaging equipment * Clean the area from any debris and contaminants * Setup equipment as needed (skirting tables, sorting bins/ racks, packing equipment) • Prepare wool storage area * Ensure the area is empty, and will remain dry (ideally, not directly on concrete) • Prepare restrooms, potable water, handwashing station and other amenities as needed * The floor should be: • Flat, non-sloping • Solid

February 2023 • Sheep Industry News • 13 February 2023 • Sheep Industry News • 13

1-5 DAYS BEFORE SHEARING • Keep sheep dry – wet or damp wool should not be shorn • Pen sheep * Sort into groups as needed (consider breed, wool color, age, sex, sick/diseased) • Shear white sheep first • Shear colored or wool with medullated fiber (hair) next • Shear sick or diseased sheep last • Fast sheep * To ensure sheep safety and comfort as well as shearer safety and wool quality, fasting is critical * Sheep should be fasted from ALL feed and hydration sources * Fast sheep according to their stage of production, keeping in mind the time the first and the last sheep will be shorn. SHEARING DAY BEFORE SHEARING • Ensure supplies are ready (wool packaging, veterinary supplies, other supplies) • Have a morning meeting * Ensure outside equipment is disinfected * Point out facilities/amenities * Reiterate who is doing what tasks * Discuss animal handling and animal welfare expectations


Maximum number of hours without feed

Minimum number of hours without water

Maximum number of hours without water

Minimum number of hours without feed

Special considerations

Ewes (and adult male sheep) Non-pregnant, non-lactating

Exceeding these maximums may induce metabolic problems and/or clinical diseases. Exceeding these maximums may induce metabolic problems and/or clinical diseases. Where practical, unweaned lambs should remain with their mothers until ewes enter the woolshed. Use special care when handling pregnant hoggets. Exceeding these maximums may induce metabolic problems and/or clinical diseases. Where practical, unweaned lambs should remain with their mothers until hoggets enter the wool shed.





Early – mid pregnancy Late – pregnancy and lactation Hoggets Non-pregnant, non-lactating













Pregnancy and Lactation





Lambs Pre-weaning





Exceeding these maximums may precipitate clinical diseases.


12 20 Source: Worksafe New Zealand Fasting of Sheep Prior to Shearing Guide 24 8

14 • Sheep Industry News •

* Discuss protocols for when: • Injuries occur to sheep or workers • Health issues are found • Black or contaminated wool is found • Move sheep into pens/ramps close to shearer

DURING SHEARING • An owner/manager should be present at all times

* Identify sheep with any diseases or issues * Provide support and guidance as needed • Provide water for workers • Ensure sheep are close and easy to catch for the shearer • Shear sheep * Shear white sheep first * Shear colored or wool with medullated fiber (hair) next * Shear sick or diseased sheep last • Wool handling – sort and prepare wool only as it will add value to your wool * Remove belly wool during shearing * Remove topknots and excess tags and package with floor sweepings * Remove area of high contamination and place with belly wool or floor sweepings * Remove foreign contamination such as poly twine, areas with hair, colored fibers in white fleeces * Separate weak (tender or broken) fleeces from strong fleeces * Fully skirt wool * Class wool * Fold fleece into thirds and roll the fleece with flesh side out • Package wool * Package into clean packs/bags * Label bales/bags with producer, bag number and contents * Keep a record of bales/bags, including bag number and contents • Provide water and feed to sheep immediately after shearing

AFTER SHEARING • Provide shelter for sheep when inclement weather is expected • Pay shearer and other labor • Provide snacks and meals as helpful • Store wool in a clean, dry place

February 2023 • Sheep Industry News • 15

16 • Sheep Industry News •

The Elly’s Acres Army The Lemondes Family Is Building A Sustainable Operation In Central New York

February 2023 • Sheep Industry News • 17

A light snow begins to fall on a November Sunday afternoon in Central New York state as John Lemondes heads to the pasture where he’ll round up the final 20 head of lambs to fulfill his 2022 slaughter commitments. Most of the family is involved in the process. In the pasture, John grabs a feed bucket and leads the way. A pair of energetic guard dogs fall in behind as he heads for a holding pen in the corner of a neighboring pasture. The sheep – encouraged by the guidance of John’s son, 13-year-old JJ, on a dirt bike – fall into line. John’s wife, Martha, brings up the rear in a utility vehicle pulling a small trailer that will corral eight to 10 sheep at a time.

The pastures are too soft from recent rain and snow to simply drive the truck and stock trailer to the holding pen. Instead, the family will shuttle the selected sheep back to the main barn in three separate loads. It’s not the efficient use of time one might ex pect from a retired Army colonel, but it’s a common scenario that plays out daily on family farms all across the United States. Farming has long been a dream for John, and there’s no one he’d rather do it with than his family, which also includes 17-year-old daughter Olivia. The farm – Elly’s Acres – is named in honor of the couple’s other daughter, who passed away in 2016 approxi mately two years after the family had settled on a 500-acre place in Jamesville, N.Y., some 15 miles from where John spent his child hood. It was here in Onondaga County, where he developed a passion for all things outdoors: hunting, fishing, trapping, and yes, even farming. “My first paid job was as a fruit picker on a farm,” he recalls. “It

John Lemondes sorts lambs while his wife, Martha, works the holding pen gate.

was the summer before I started sixth grade. One day, my father told me to get in the car and we were going to get me a job. He took me to the farm, and I remember him talking to the farmer, who said, ‘He looks kind of small.’ My dad said, ‘Yeah, but he’ll work.’” And work he did, that whole summer. He couldn’t keep up with the adults he was alongside, but he never quit. He continued to work on farms through his high school years, eventually making his way to a livestock operation. “My bachelor’s degree from Penn State is in agricultural science. I have always wanted to own a farm of some type,” he says. “I just didn’t know exactly what it was or where it was going to be.” IT HAD TO BE WOOL It should come as no surprise that he found his way to wool sheep. After all, John still owns (and wears) a pair of Woolrich wool pants he first got as a teenager. “They’re in that typical red and black pattern,” he says. “My kids mock me because they know I’ve had them since I was 14 or 15 years old, but they’re still going strong. They’re my main pair of ice fishing/hunting pants. I’ve been a wool user my entire life.” Even the U.S. Army indulged John’s passion for agriculture when it assigned him to the agriculture committee while he was a student at the Army War College. He studied agriculture and its importance not only in the United States, but in India, Thailand and Vietnam. He worked on textile projects in the final years of his time with the Army, as well. After retiring, John spent a year working as a military consultant for clients that included ASI. “That all kind of layered itself together and was really helpful in solidifying my desire to be a farmer,” he says. “Sheep are the most efficient ruminants there are. And even though we generally have good pastures in this area, choosing sheep made it easier when it was time to decide which farm property to purchase. I didn’t have to worry about finding one with the best possible soil profile, which would be more important for growing crops. That removed a huge issue for us.” Of Greek and Irish decent, John grew up eating lamb on a regular basis, despite the fact that there was no room to raise animals of their own in the family’s suburban home.

18 • Sheep Industry News •

“But it was a small suburb, and we were surrounded by farms,” John adds. “As a kid, I could just walk across the street to farm fields and woods and hunt and trap. I don’t know what kids do after school now, but I was always out hunting, fishing and trapping, and I loved it.” Purchasing the land for Elly’s Acres was just the start of John’s farming adventure. A horse farm in its past life, the place had been severely neglected by its most recent owners. The house needed a bit of everything, including a new roof. “It was like camping inside those first few months,” John says. “It rained on us in the house that summer. It was so overgrown around the house that we could barely get into it. We started the process of rebuilding it from the frame out.” The rest of the property was in similar condition. Nothing drained properly. Previous owners had stuck railroad ties into the ground as fence posts. A fire pit was setup two feet from a wooden barn. “The goal was to have livestock on the ground within a year of taking possession,” John says. “We physically occupied the house in November 2013 and had livestock on the ground in September 2014. That was really important to us.” The family started with 20 breeding ewes and one ram. Eight years later, the ewe flock is up to nearly 160. John would like to expand the breeding flock to 700 or more, but he’s intentionally taking a slow roll approach that allows him to maintain financial control of the farm. “The banks don’t own us, and that’s a conscious decision on our part,” he says. “It’s why my wife and I both have off farm jobs, as well. People don’t realize how hard it was those first six years. We were going through all of the problems

that come with starting a new farm, raising kids, working jobs. It was hard, but it gave us a lot of control over our operation.” DAILY CHALLENGES Two hours after the process of sorting lambs started, the sheep are loaded and ready for the two-hour drive to the nearest slaughter facility. John skipped lunch, of course, and dinner will have to wait until he’s back from dropping off the sheep. There’s more snow on the way and the drive to the slaughter facility requires a trek through one of the snowiest areas in the entire country, which means John is anxious to get there and back as quickly as possible. Since he spends his days working as the District 126 representative to the New York State Assembly – he was re-elected in November 2022 – John is thankful for a facility that allows him to deliver sheep outside of regular business hours. But he also laments the loss of such facilities through out the state, a fact that has often left him scrambling to find available spots for slaughter. “We’re doing this in the most inefficient way we can as we struggle to find slaughter availability. We end up taking some lambs that are smaller than we’d like because we have to make our appointments a year in advance,” he says. “This year, my first ap pointment is in August, which isn’t great, but we have to take it.” Once his lamb is processed, John sells through a handful of avenues. He’s built a loyal following at two farmers markets while also selling meat directly off the farm. He offers on-farm kill for a handful of ethnic customers who request it. It adds up to roughly 100 lambs a year, a number he plans to increase through managed growth. “The goofy slaughter schedule impacts our ability to do a lot of

(Above) The Lemondes family with JJ, Martha, Olivia and John. (Below) JJ pushes sheep from the back of his dirt bike while John leads the way with a feed bucket as they head to a holding pen.

February 2023 • Sheep Industry News • 19

the things we’d like to do,” he said. “We just have to manage it like we do everything else on the farm.” The wool is no different. In the farm’s early years, John sent most of it to the area wool pool. But the recent trade war with China interrupted that market and left John and Martha looking for other options. They’ve worked with several domestic mills to develop a wool clothing line that so far has sold under the Elly’s Acres name. “This whole region was once really strong in sheep and wool and the infrastructure needed to sustain it,” John says. “But then it just vanished. There used to be a lot of meat packing here, a lot of mills here. But as the country transi tioned from local and regional to regional and national, it all went away.” While John is somewhat guarded about the breeding of his flock, he says his focus is to breed for fine wool and good meat. “I don’t have the super finest 14-micron wool, but our wool is really good,” he says. “The other piece is that our operation is grass-fed, pasture-raised. That causes them to grow a little slower, but people love it. There’s a different taste profile, and it makes a difference our customers can taste.” ADDITIONAL OPPORTUNITIES The farm is located in the heart of maple country, and John hopes to start tapping trees in the coming year. It’s a revenue source he’s planned on since buying the property, but chose to pursue building the sheep flock first. He’s work ing through the process to bring in H-2A help to work with both the sheep and the syrup, and even purchased a home across the road from his as a place for farm labor to live in the future. A cabin on the farm had also fallen into disrepair. It took five years, but John and Martha eventually refurbished the home and regularly rent it through Airbnb to people traveling to nearby Syracuse, N.Y. “There’s no TV, and that’s by design,” John says. “It does have wifi, but we wanted it to be a place where people could rest and enjoy nature. We do farm tours for the people who rent it, and for farm income diversification it was a key investment for us. “We’ve done the ‘easy’ upgrades on the property. Now, we’re starting to look at some bigger additions. The next barn is going to be a huge project. We might build a second Airbnb. There’s a lot that we can still do with the property that we have.” The one thing he doesn’t want to do is build a farm that is one day a burden to his children. “They both started work ing on the farm at a young age, and have been instrumental in its operation from an early age. But it isn’t my goal or mandate in life that they take over this farm one day,” John says. “I wouldn’t be surprised if one or both decides to do something with it. But I don’t want to saddle them with something that can’t be successful.”

(Above) A holding pen near the pastures allows John Lemondes to sort sheep. (Right) An old family photo of JJ tending to newborn lambs with mom's approval.

20 • Sheep Industry News •


2022 Lamb Checkoff in Review


■ 2022 American Lamb Summit gave the industry cutting edge information and tools ■ The first American Lamb environmental impact research neared completion and a sustainability task force formed to guide use of outcomes ■ Influencers spread the word about American Lamb’s nutrition and versatility ■ Assisted American Lamb suppliers to help retailers carry our products ■ Supported a fast casual restaurant chain with a double burger promotion


Annual report cover photo by Michael Edminstee



$1,102,739 $356,863 $188,966 $138,201 $166,296






* For Fiscal Year October 1, 2021-September 30, 2022



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  Lamb Checkoff 

Karen Maneotis Selected As NLFA Executive Director W ith 35 years of experience producing sheep, goats and cattle on the family ranch near Craig, Colo., Karen Maneotis has been selected as the new executive direc

tor for the National Lamb Feeders Association. "We're very happy to get someone hired who has a sheep and ranching background," said NLFA President Reed Anderson of Oregon. "But the most important thing is that we needed to hire a good person, and we think we've done that with Karen." The Maneotis family is no stranger to the American sheep industry. Karen's husband, Nick, currently serves as president of the Colorado Wool Growers Association and sits on ASI's Genetic Stakeholders Committee. The couple's daughter, Karissa Isaacs, worked on the lamb flavor audit during her years as a student at Colorado State University, then spent time with the American Lamb Board before eventually joining Superior Farms. "Karissa was the one who told me about the job," said Maneotis. "I have a passion for sheep and cattle, so I think I'll be a good fit with the National Lamb Feeders. I'm really excited to learn more about the association and what I can do to help them be productive. And I'm excited to work with both the American Lamb Board and ASI in this role." Maneotis was hired in early January and started work immedi ately as NLFA had meetings of its own scheduled during the ASI Annual Convention last month in Fort Worth, Texas. The biggest task at NLFA is planning the annual Howard Wyman Sheep Industry Leadership School, which generally takes place in the summer. "That's probably the biggest challenge for the person in this posi tion," said Anderson. "It's an important part of what the National Lamb Feeders does to support our industry because it gives other producers a chance to see the industry from our perspective and from the perspective of other producers. It requires a high level of organization and planning skills to put that school together. Those of us on the NLFA board are pretty busy with our own operations, so we rely heavily on the executive director to plan this event." Anderson said NLFA reached out to both Megan Wortman at ALB and ASI's Peter Orwick in looking for the right person to take on the contract position. While she hadn't worked directly with NLFA in the past, Ma neotis said she was already familiar with several of the association's board members, including Colorado's A.J. Nelson and NLFA Past President Jeff Hasbrouck. Wyoming producer Bob Harlan – who has served as NLFA's representative to the ASI Executive Board in

recent years – has also purchased rams from the family's ranch in past years. Like many in the ranching industry, Maneotis has traditionally held down a full-time position in addition to chores around the ranch. She's handled administrative roles for Southwestern Energy and APH Construction since 2001, working for roughly a decade in each position. She's served as a 4-H leader and a member of the Moffat County Cattlewomen. She also has assisted in organizing alumni and com munity events through the Moffat County FFA and served on the board of directors of the Colorado Swine Association. The contract position will allow Maneotis to work from home, where she can continue babysitting her granddaughter and assisting with daily ranch duties. New NLFA Executive Director Karen Maneotis shows off her granddaughters Charleigh Isaacs (left) and Atley Weber.

22 • Sheep Industry News •


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supply a customer’s entire fashion season. In the last quarter of the 20th century, the company became and remained the leading wool merchant in the country. Jack married Sally Marsh of Waban in 1948 and lived in Weston, Mass., for 60 years, where he raised his daughters, Marsha (Jon Westerlund) of Winter Park, Colo., and Cheryl of West Newton, Mass. Jack embraced philanthropy, establish ing scholarships at Phillips Exeter Academy and AFS and making generous grants to local hospitals and charities. He was a stellar athlete with a passion for golf and skiing. He shot eight holes-in-one and was club champion at Brae Burn Country Club in West Newton, where he first met Sally on the ski hill in his early 20s. He had his last ace at Hole-in-the-Wall Golf Club in Naples at the age of 90. He was preceded in death by four broth ers, Orville W. Forté, Jr. (Junie), Paul H. (Bud), Donald (Dee), William R. (Bill) and a sister Elizabeth (Beth). THOMAS (TOM) CLAYMAN, 1952-2023 Thomas E. “Tom” Clayman, 70, died on Jan. 4, 2023, with his wife by his side. He was born April 15, 1952,

States Wool in Ohio, he was transferred to Hutchinson, Kan., for a “short period of time," and he never left. He and his wife made Hutchinson and the Reno County Community their home for more than 40 years. Twenty years ago, Tom became co owner of Kauffman Seeds. While Tom loved the seed business, his first passion was sheep, especially Montadales. Tom raised, judged, and showed thousands of sheep all over the United States including county and state fairs in addition to national shows. When showing sheep Tom gave freely to others by giving sound advice and offering a helping hand when possible. Tom was a member of the Montadale Sheep Breeder's Association, Oklahoma Genetics, Kansas Crop Improvement As sociation and Reno County 4-H Club. Tom was on the Board of the Montadale Sheep Breeder's Association, where he had served as president. He was a member of Emanuel Lutheran Church, Hutchinson. Tom is survived by his wife, Sandy of Hutchinson; son, Michael Clayman and wife, Cassey, of West Memphis, Ark.; daugh ter, Michelle McMillon and husband, Chris topher, of Old Hickory, Tenn.; sister, Nancy Kramer and husband, Phillip, of Eaton, Ohio; three grandchildren, Wyatt Clayman, Willow Clayman and Abigail McMillon; and several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents. In lieu of flowers, please send memorial contributions to Emanuel Lutheran Church or Montadale Sheep Association, in care of Elliott Mortuary, 1219 N. Main, Hutchinson, KS 67501.

JOHN (JACK) FORTÉ, 1924-2022 John (Jack) H. Forté was born in Boston, the fourth son of Orville W. Forté and Helen Henkels Forté of Waban, Mass., on May 6, 1924. He died in Naples, Fla. – his retire ment home – on Dec. 22, 2022, at the age of 98. Jack attended Phil

lips Exeter Academy, captaining the baseball team his senior year, and graduated in 1942. He then started at Harvard College before joining

24 • Sheep Industry News • processed into large quantities of a uniform product available on-demand sufficient to the American Field Service during World War II. Ineligible for the American armed services due to a head injury as a boy, he drove ambulances for AFS in Cassino in central Italy. He returned to Harvard where he played second base and also captained the baseball team. His final game was against the Yale team led by George H.W. Bush. After graduating with the class of 1946, Jack joined Forté, Dupee, Sawyer Co. on Summer Street in Boston, a wool business founded by his father in 1921. The Boston Wool District was a burgeoning place, sup plying the many mills of New England, an economy based at that time on the manufac ture of textiles and shoes. The company supplied wool for blankets and uniforms, and later created a unique niche that filled the demand for specialty fibers such as cashmere, camel hair, alpaca and mohair for garments. Boston was the center of the wool trade and prospered until the late 1950s, when the rise of synthetic fibers and labor costs forced the closure of many regional mills and mi gration south where labor costs were lower. It was a challenging time for Forté, Dupee, Sawyer Co., but under Jack’s skillful leader ship the business survived. With characteristic calm he took risks, negotiating generous lines of credit to source odd lots of domestic wool. These were

in Richmond, Ind., to James C. and Martha Jeanne (Koontz) Clay

man. On June 3, 1972, he married Sandra "Sandy" Kay Lohr, in Nevada, Ohio. Tom graduated from Eaton High School in Eaton, Ohio. While working for Mid


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