Message from the Owner

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. Why?

  • 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,
Stan Potratz

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Industry News

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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Premier Specials


Free Shipping on qualified website orders!

(see details)

ElectroNet 35 and ElectroStop 42

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.

QuikGround ElectroStop

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)

PigTail Post

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 alpacas.

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 to 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 year!

Article and photo provided by:
Barbara Bales, Glory B Farm
Red Sulphur Marie Rd, HC77, Box 409
Ballard, WV 24918

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Premier Tip

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
Clamp $1.30
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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Premier Employee

Sales Consultant,
Sara McArtor

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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Company Lamb

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 fat.

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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