How to Select Genetic Traits for Solar Grazing (ASGA Event Recording)

For our September ASGA Teatime event, we invited experienced farmers and sheep experts from different parts of the country to talk about how to find the right sheep for your operation and region.

Here’s a 5-minute clip from the event with Brad Carothers (New Slate Land Management) sharing what genetic traits solar graziers are looking for when they come to him for sheep. He explains his thoughts on how to select traits for solar grazing operations:

Interested in learning more?

Login to the ASGA network and check out the full event recording for over an hour of great information and discussion on selecting genetics, including a great walk through of the NSIP database with Andrew Weaver.

Not a member? Join ASGA today!

About the Speakers

Brett Pharo

Brett Pharo was born and raised on a cattle ranch in eastern Colorado, and swore he’d never live east of the Mississippi or raise sheep.  He now raises sheep in northern Michigan with his wife Deb, daughters Jessica (and husband,Chris) and Brittany, and five very active grandchildren.  They operate at forage-based seedstock operation selling Polypay breeding stock from coast to coast, and recently have begun raising some White Dorpers, as well.  The Polypay flock has been enrolled in NSIP for over 30 years, and the White Dorpers are, as well. Brett is currently serving on the board of NSIP, as well as involved with the Genetic Stakeholders Committee of ASI, and Sheep Genetics USA. Brett is past president of the American Polypay Sheep Assn., and a past director of Michigan Sheep Producers Assn. The operation is currently involved in the GEMS research project as well as a parasite resistance research project through Rhode Island University.

Jake Thorne

Jake Thorne is a Sheep and Goat Extension Program Specialist for Texas A&M AgriLife in San Angelo, TX. Jake actively conducts extension education and outreach targeted toward producers in the areas of general sheep production, genetic selection and parasite control. Jake manages the Texas A&M AgriLife Dorper and Rambouillet flocks enrolled in the National Sheep Improvement Program as well as the Dorper Sire Progeny Test being conducted in San Angelo. Jake has a particular interest in developing breeding and management strategies in sheep breeds notably susceptible to Haemonchus contortus. Jake received his B.S. and M.S. from Texas A&M University and is completing a PhD at the University of Idaho with a focus on sheep genomic technology.

Dr. Andrew Weaver

Dr. Andrew Weaver is the Extension Small Ruminant Specialist at North Carolina State University. Dr. Weaver grew up in central Michigan and attended Michigan State University where he earned his B.S. in Animal Science in 2015. He completed his M.S. at Virginia Tech in 2017 studying terminal sire options for hair sheep producers. That research led him to West Virginia University where he completed his Ph.D. studying immune mechanisms related to parasite resistance. Dr. Weaver’s research and extension interests focus on utilization of genetic tools and other management practices to improve parasite resistance, production efficiency, and end-product value of small ruminants in the Southeast US.

Brad Carothers

Brad runs New Slate Land Management with his wife Katie. New Slate Land Management is an Ohio based agricultural company focused on offering vegetation management solutions to solar companies throughout the Midwest. Comprised of two purebred sheep operations based in central Ohio, New Slate is rapidly expanding to meet the demand for solar grazing. Through years of grazing management and genetic selection, our sheep are designed for low input large scale systems. Contact us at 

Camren Maierle, PhD

Camren is the new Sustainability Director at the American Lamb Board. There he will lead the ALB’s research and producer education initiatives in this area and contribute to advancing the sheep industry’s commitment to sustainability, one of the top priorities for this checkoff-funded association. An Ohio native, he has a bachelor’s in animal science from The Ohio State University, and both master’s and doctoral degrees in animal and food science from West Virginia University. Maierle has most recently been a livestock extension educator with Penn State University Extension, leading schools for sheep producers.

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