Later this month, the USDA's National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS) will kick off its fourth national study of the U.S. sheep industry. This project is entirely voluntary on the part of producers, and will provide the industry with critical information about high priority animal health and management issues. I hope you'll consider participating!
According to NAHMS, the study has five primary objectives:
- Describe the occurrence of common, economically important sheep diseases, as well as management and biosecurity practices associated with those diseases;
- Describe antimicrobial (antibiotic) stewardship on sheep operations and estimate the prevalence of enteric microbes and antimicrobial resistance patterns;
- Describe producer practices regarding internal parasite control and dewormer resistance;
- Describe changes in animal health, nutrition, and management practices in the U.S. sheep industry since 1996; and
- Provide serum to include in the serologic bank for future research.
In Phase I (January-February 2024) of the study, the National Agricultural Statistics Service will contact selected producers to complete a general sheep management questionnaire. These producers will also have an opportunity to participate in additional research activities.
During Phase II (April-July 2024), a subset of these producers will be contacted by USDA's Veterinary Services to complete a more detailed questionnaire and provide biological samples, including
- Fecal Parasite Test: Fecal egg counts on a composit sample will provide information about parasite burden. Select operations will also be examined for dewormer effectiveness.
- Enteric Microbe Test: Detection and antimicrobial susceptibility testing of Salmonella, E. coli, and Campylobacter in your sheep.
- Lameness Pathogens Test: Swabs will be tested for lameness pathogens on the operation.
If your operation is selected for these tests, you'll receive individualized reports for each category (these tests would cost more than $3,000 if you had to have your own veterinarian conduct them). The results will also be used to help build our understanding about key sheep health issues. From an extension perspective, these results will help me focus future workshops and materials around the issues that matter most to commercial producers! And again, your privacy will be protected - participation is entirely voluntary, and no data will be reported in any way that could reveal the identity of a participant.
I hope you'll participate! For more information, check out the NAHMS sheep study webpage!