Stan & Jean Potratz, Owners
A Way Forward for NAIS?
I just returned from the NIAA meeting. I'm encouraged that NAIS officials
are moving the program toward a form and timeline that's less intimidating.
This is a summary of a note I sent to my senators 3 weeks ago. You may wish
to send similar to your congressmen...
SDA should declare that NAIS is for cattle only. The other species have
been put "on the shelf" until a workable, affordable system be demonstrated.
- The cattle industry has the most to gain from national animal ID/tracking and the most to lose by the absence of one.
- The dairy and beef cattle industries have been the most supportive of NAIS.
- The relative cost per head is the least for cattle (due to their higher value).
- A national tracking system is most likely to work for cattle. It is much less workable for the other species.>
2. USDA and NAIS should further announce that they will move toward mandatory ID of cattle but only for
official visual ear tags. Use of official RFID tags instead is voluntary. Tracking of cattle will not be made
mandatory until a system that does not impede commerce is fully tested and proven. What does this step offer?
- Since tracking will not be involved it defuses the argument about the database. APHIS can own the database.
- Visual ear tags cost much less. We could provide custom-imprint tags with official numbers for 50¢ each for an average cattle tag (vs. $2.25 for an RFID tag). So can six other companies. Less cost means less resistance to mandatory ID.
- Visual ear tags are a known entity to producers. Therefore buying and installing them is less controversial. RFID tags are new, strange and mysterious to many small cattle producers. We all strongly resist that which they do not understand.
- Because they are visual (only), producers will not need to invest in an RFID reader.
Best wishes to all,
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The Future of Lamb Prices
A few months ago I was brave (foolish?) enough to predict that lamb prices would remain
high for the next several years.
Within 60 days the price of lambs over 140 lbs. liveweight dropped like a stone. The
decline was so severe that 180 lb. lambs born last spring are worth about the same total
$$ as 65 lb. Easter lambs born in Jan. 2006.
My response to concerned producers is not to worry. The price of high quality lamb will
remain in the profitable range for several more years unless our economy "tanks". The very
low price for overweight, overfat, aged lamb is actually a good thing in the long term-as
it will "educate" those responsible.
So focus on producing the lamb your market desires. The range of markets for USA
lamb is very wide (large vs. small vs. medium; wool vs. hair; show vs. commericial; ethnic
vs. normal; Easter vs. normal).
By the way the ongoing interest in producing meat goats is also good for lamb prices as
it keeps the supply of US lamb lower than it might otherwise be. We produce both meat
goats and prime lamb at Premier and expect to do so for many years.
by Stan Potratz
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Free Shipping on qualified website orders!
During April, buy 2 rolls of 164' ElectroNet 35 or ElectroStop 42 and receive $15 off your order. ($7.50 per roll).
Save $15 when buying 2 rolls!
The save $15 offer is good through April 30, 2006. Enter 04CAL in the "Catalog Source Code" box on the "Checkout-Confirm & Submit" screen.
Exactly the same as ElectroStop net with the exception that the bottom strand is
conductive instead of neutral. Because the bottom strand is in contact the the steel
spikes of the posts (and the soil), it thus provides a grounding system for the energizer
if the soil is moist enough to support grass growth. While supplies last!
203300 Sale $56.00 (Reg. 89.00)
Designed for strip grazing but have many other uses. Easy to carry and quick to step into the ground. Conductors are
easily installed through the eyes, are removed quickly and held securely.
320505 Sale $1.60 (Reg. 2.65)
QG ElectroStop and PigTail Post offers good through May 31, 2006. Enter News 18 in
the "Catalog Source Code" box on the "Checkout-Confirm & Submit" screen. NOTE: Our
website will show the original price on the PigTail Post when you order, but we will
adjust it to the sale price when we receive your order. QuikGround ElectroStop is while
supplies last. No backorders on this special net.
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Keeping Fiber Clean
Common Sense Hygienics
by Barbara Bales
How do we, as alpaca owners, keep fleeces clean for processing, sales and
show throughout the year? Hopefully, we can share some husbandry issues that
will help alpaca owners maintain relatively clean fleeces both on and off
We keep fleeces clean by simple and common sense methods that work well for
our farm, whether we sell, show or process our fleeces. We strive to keep our
alpacas as clean as possible and access them daily for cleanliness and health,
this also improves our animal/human relationship.
We own both suri and huacaya alpacas, and recognize the differences in the
nature of the respective fiber and end products of each variety of alpaca. An
important aspect is that alpacas are livestock and no matter how nice of an
area you have for shelter, they will roll in the dirt, attempt to fit their
bodies into a five gallon water bucket during hot weather, play in the snow
and stand in the rain "just because". What doesn't make sense to us, makes
perfect sense to the alpaca. We don't panic or become dismayed when any of the
above happens, alpaca's fleece has an amazing way of "self-cleaning" and there
are some simple methods of maintaining relatively clean fleeces from shearing
One of the most important factors in cleanliness is the condition of the
barn, lot and pastures and a clean area when shearing. We use sand and small
limestone gravel in the summer and clean straw/hay in the winter and we clean
twice daily. Not only does this keep fleeces clean, but ensures the overall
healthy environment for our alpacas. Also, when we feed hay, we check for any
extra debris that could catch in the fiber.
Keeping the shearing area clean and orderly tremendously helps keep
fleeces clean and organized fiber and tools in the proper places. We talk a
lot to our alpacas to minimize stress during shearing-they trust us and we
have a great relationship together. We use a shearing table for most of our
alpacas and a clean tarp for catching any escaped fiber from our hands. We are
particular to keep any extra dirt, debris and gravel/sand from mixing and
contaminating the fleeces. We keep our fleeces clean and sorted as we shear
from each alpaca to minimize cleaning processing after shearing.
As a small farm, we have only 2 - 3 people to help shear, so organization
is a must when we shear. Larger farms usually have more "helping hands". Being
clean and organized in both scenarios benefits both human and alpaca
greatly! We use a few simple tools to help with excess dirt or debris in
the fleece; a "beater" wand and a rubber mitt. A slicker brush is used only
for huacaya fleeces for processing just before shearing, but not for show
fleeces. We use a skirting table for show fleeces. A blower helps rid huacayas
from dust just before shearing. The most important tool we use here at our
farm is our hands!
Handpicking for debris, especially with our suris, is essential for
cleanliness. We think suris need a little more attention, due to the twisting
lock structure of their fleeces and also if they have never been shorn before.
Suris with long fiber can also be rinsed with clean water and allowed to dry a
few days before shearing to reduce dust from fleeces.
Never clean or shear your alpacas when they are wet, allow them to
completely dry. Allow the fleece to "self-clean" first. We handpick still more
after shearing-how much handpicking depends on the final goal for each fleece.
Spin-off entries require intricate handpicking, blanket show fleeces moderate
handpicking in addition to skirting before show. When we prepare our fleeces
for mill processing, we access each fleece and decide how much handpicking,
skirting seconds from prime fiber, and which fiber to put through the dehairer
machine at the mill. Extra fiber from the dehairer, is made into felted
sheets, which always sell well from our farm.
Quality, cleanliness and the end purpose for each fleece determines how
much processing is involved at our farm and the mill, as well as for
handspinning. We truly enjoy showing our fiber and also love end products from
our beloved alpacas and are rewarded greatly for the care given throughout the
Article and photo provided by:
Barbara Bales, Glory B Farm
Red Sulphur Marie Rd, HC77, Box 409
Ballard, WV 24918
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Common Energizer Trouble Shooting - Ground Systems
by Scott Neil, Premier Sales Consultant
A common question: "I can't get any power on my fence but my energizer
seems to be working fine. My animals are walking through the fence."
Answer: Many times the problem ends up being that the energizer ground
system is inadequate because copper ground rods have been used. Why?
In electric fence applications, copper corrodes rapidly, usually within 2 months to 2
years due to direct current (DC) voltage. When copper corrodes on the surface of the
energizer ground rods or on connecting wires, it does not allow electricity to flow. It is
similar to having a kink in a water hose that allows only a limited flow or no flow of
water beyond the kink.
The solution is to install galvanized ground rods and to connect them using only
galvanized wire. The amount of grounding required is dependent on the energizer's size.
The common rule of thumb is a minimum of 3 feet of galvanized ground rod per maximum joule
of output. (A 3 joule unit needs 9 feet of ground rod.) The ground rods should then be
placed in a linear line spaced apart by 1.5 times the length of the rods being used.
(Example - 6 foot rods should be placed 9 feet apart.)
When connecting the galvanized ground rods together we suggest not only using
galvanized wire but insulated galvanized wire. Why?
A ground wire that connects ground rods together will usually have direct soil contact.
Even the best galvanized ground wire will corrode over time. Thus simply by using
insulated galvanized wire years of problem-free ground systems can be attained.
(see photo above right) Shows a close-up of the ground rod and stainless steel clamp
assembled with insulated connection wire.
Some items that Premier sells that will help with this situation are:
Ground Rods, 6' x 5/8" $10.25
Six Light Fence Tester $16.00
Insulated Wire, per ft. $0.40
Insulated Wire, 165' $37.00
Insulated Wire, 330' $70.00
Insulated Wire, 1000' $228.00
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Sara McArtor is this month's featured employee. She is one of Premier's sales
consultant and has been with us almost 1 year. She and her husband Jim live in
Crawfordsville, IA, have been married for 17 years and have 3 children (Brett - 16, Brian
- 14 and Brenda - 11).
What she likes best about her position at Premier is "talking to customers from all
over the world. I enjoy hearing about their farms and animals. What problems they have and
what works for them. I also like telling other farmers what works for me. The fact that I
can be honest with customers about whether I think a product is what they need or not is
important to me."
Sara says that there are so many things that she likes about working at Premier. "My
co-workers are great and as long as I give 100%, they will give me 100%. But I think the
best part is the testing of the products. It is fun to see what new items are out there,
what works and does not work and why we like them. I then use that knowledge at home on my
own farm and can also pass that information on to customers.
Sara and Jim along with the kids maintain a 40 acre farm with 120 head of dorset sheep,
20 boer goats, 6 mytonic goats, 1 pony, 3 bottle calves, chickens, a dog named Shadow and
a farm cat - Garfield. With all of this, of course they are involved in 4-H and also as a
family enjoy camping and fishing. Sara also enjoys taking walks on nice days and watching
her kids play sports.
Her favorite statement is "Get-R-Done" because when you have something that needs done,
don't put it off, just do it and do it right.
We enjoy Sara's positive attitude very much at Premier. She is bright and a quick
learner and hope that she continues with us for a long time.
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Boneless leg of lamb
Salt and pepper
Rub a boneless leg of lamb with salt and pepper. Put on a rotisserie and cook until
meat thermometer reads 160 degrees. Let the lamb cool. Slice thin and take out the
In a crock pot mix:
1 can beef broth
1 can water
1 pack Lipton Onion Soup Mix
1 red pepper (sliced thin)
1 green pepper (sliced thin)
1 or 2 cloves of crushed garlic
1 Tbs. A-1 sauce
Add lamb meat; mix until meat is covered with juices. Cook on low until ready to eat
later that day. Enjoy this recipe served on hard rolls as a sandwich using juice as a
dipping sauce or with mashed potatoes.
Recipe was provide by Sara McArtor, Premier's sales consultant.
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