PIP - Production Improvement Program

PIP Purpose

  1. Provide a standardized means for evaluating and selecting replacement animals within flocks.

  2. Provide those who purchase and sell sheep dairy replacement ewes and rams with a reliable source of information on the estimated genetic impact of those replacements within their flocks.

  3. Measure the impact of imported semen on U.S.A. milk production.

PIP Justification

Sheep dairy operations throughout the United States and Canada have been managing milk production records using a wide range of practices for nearly three decades.  There has not been, however, a uniform means for comparing data across flocks, particularly in the United States.  United States sheep dairy producers have not had a reliable means for estimating the breeding values of replacement stock in their own flocks, nor had a reliable means for purchasing replacements or new flock sires.

PIP Partners

Canadian sheep dairy producers are several steps ahead in establishing estimated breeding values and standardizing milk production records through the work of the Centre d’Expertise en Production Ovine du Quebec.  Estimated breeding values are calculated from milk production data by GenOvis

Milk component analysis is currently being done through Rocky Mountain Dairy Herd Improvement Association located in North Logan, Utah to assure standardization of process.  The project is being set up to minimize costs to the producer as much as possible without compromising the results.

PIP Funding

DSANA has obtained two grants to underwrite the start of the Genetic Improvement Project.  In 2017 the American Sheep Industry Let’s Grow grant provided $10,000 to develop a strategic plan for the project.  In 2018 $20,000 was received from the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center to continue the project.  Additional funds will be required for DSANA to continue to support the project. 

Approximately $80 of each farm’s enrollment goes toward supporting the PIP development and management.  DSANA board and Genetics Improvement Project will be seeking additional funding to continue the project.


Farm Enrollments

How do I enroll my farm in PIP?

  1. Enrollment is open to DSANA members in good standing.

  2. A Farm Enrollment Form with annual payment of $300 is due November 1 of each year. 2019 farm enrollment fee is $300 per farm. This can be paid by check at the symposium or via DSANA’s PayPal account.

  3. Complete the Farm Enrollment Form. Be sure to sign and date the form.

  4. Scan and email to Laurel Kieffer at kcf.laurel@tcc.coop. Or mail a hard copy to Laurel Kieffer; DSANA, N50768 County Road D, Strum WI 54770.

How should I plan for enrolling?

  1. Each farm must have a USDA/APHIS Farm Scrapie number which are issued by the state, usually through the state’s department of agriculture. Contact your state Department of Agriculture to obtain an identification number or call 1-866-873-2824. (This is different from the Livestock Premises Registrations required by some states.)

  2. Producers make a commitment to collecting milk production information a minimum of three (3), preferably five (5) times during the milking season. The more times that data is submitted, the more accurate the returned estimated breeding values will be.

  3. Producers need to decide at the beginning of the season their level of participation in PIP. Two tiers (See DSANA Tier PIP Tier Standards chart) of production evaluation are available: briefly -

Tier 1:  estimated breeding values are valid only for milk production (volume or weight) based on data submitted.

Tier 2:  estimated breeding values are valid for milk production and components based on the data submitted.


Animal Enrollments

How do I enroll my dairy sheep in PIP?

  1. Each dairy animal that is retained on the farm for more than 7 days is to be enrolled. This is especially critical for sheep dairies that are leaving lambs on the ewe to any extent. Lamb rate of gain measured through weaning weights is included as a component in determining estimated breeding values.

  2. The Animal Enrollment Form Instructions provide a line-by-line guide for completing the form.

  3. You will need the following information to the best of your ability:

    1. Farm Scrapie Number (each state has a protocol for having a Scrapie number assigned).

    2. Each animal will need a unique Scrapie number.

    3. Each animal’s date of birth, their sire, and their dam scrapie numbers. For animals not born on the property, you will need the farm-of-origin’s scrapie number.

    4. Each animal’s litter size, sex, and for the current year, weaning weights, 50- and 100-day weights.

  4. Complete the Animal Enrollment Form. Email the completed form to Laurel Kieffer at kcf.laurel@tcc.coop.

This seems like so much work.  What if I have questions?  What is the value in doing all of this?

These are good questions.  If you have questions or are just getting frustrated, contact Laurel Kieffer (kcf.laurel@tcc.coop ) or phone 715-695-3617 for help and support.  Please contact Laurel if you need information on animals purchased from the Spooner dispersal.

The value in investing the time in tracking down this information helps you create the ability to really know what you have on your farm and how to make evidence-based decisions on progeny selection.  By including the scrapie numbers and identification for animals not born on your farm, DSANA can start to build a North American Sheep Dairy registry of sorts.  This is especially important as we begin to track the impact of semen importation.   It will take the guesswork out of buying replacement ewes and rams.   More animals included in the project means more accuracy in the results for everyone.