While the new year officially starts in the winter, spring kicks off so many new things on farms and ranches. Lambs and kid goats are frolicking around in green pastures. The weather tends to be quite pleasant. Moisture tends to go further and there is much optimism in the air. And, of course, it is baseball season!
Besides my role as little league coach, this spring has also brought on quite a few new opportunities for me and the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in San Angelo. I’m honored to have been named the director of the research center, while still retaining much of my duties as a sheep and goat AgriLife Extension specialist. It is my goal to uphold the reputation built by people before me and help the center break new ground to benefit the agriculture producers of Texas.
The center’s mission statement is simply “Ranching Solutions.” But solving issues faced by agriculture producers in this region are by no means simple. Many of these issues have been around for decades and there is no silver bullet to fix them. We must continue to find strategies to mitigate their impact, be adaptive to a changing world, and always be prepared to handle new problems that may be on the horizon. This mindset by previous center directors has helped build the reputation of our institution as one of the leading sheep and goat research entities in the U.S.
While the population of sheep and goats isn’t what it once was here, West Central Texas is still the largest producer of lamb and goat in the U.S. Fortunately for me, as a sheep and goat guy, and fortunately for other sheep and goat enthusiasts, the market has been steadily improving year by year. Now that the average lamb and meat goat live prices are $3 and $4.50 per pound (local auction market as of mid-April), there is no doubt that small ruminants are a wise investment for farmers and ranchers of this region of Texas.
I fully intend to urge our team of scientists and extension professionals to continue research and outreach efforts to benefit small ruminant producers. Yet I appreciate that things are always changing, and there is a need to remain adaptive to these changes. Therefore, we will continue to seek opportunities to improve the lives of Texans whatever the opportunity may be.
The Texas A&M AgriLife agency is funded by and called to serve Texans. I not only welcome but encourage input from stakeholders of this region. Often, research issues and outreach ideas come from the farmers and ranchers who deal with agricultural challenges daily. In many cases, we can develop partnerships to help resolve these issues. A few of these recent successful collaborations include the Texas A&M AgriLife Livestock Guardian Dog program, in partnership with the Texas Sheep and Goat Predator Board, and the market reports on our website and the Lamb and Goat Market Forecast iPhone app, which are both the result of a partnership with Producers Livestock Auction Company.
One of Babe Ruth’s most famous quotes is “Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.” While we can’t strike out each and every issue that you may be facing, Texas A&M AgriLife will always continue the pursuit of improving the agriculture industry. Communication with you is vital to this pursuit and we hope to hear from you on how we can better the lives of Texans.
To provide feedback on this article or request topics for future articles, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 325-657-7324. For general questions about sheep and goats, contact your local Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service county office. If they can’t answer your question, they have access to someone who can.