Colorado State University’s Sheep Research and Teaching Unit fared very well at the recent National Western Stock Show in Denver. Among a host of awards bestowed on the student-run and managed group were the Supreme Champion Ewe, Supreme Champion Southdown and the Champion wether dam ewe.
Colorado State students provide all daily care for the animals as well as maintenance of the facility that houses the sheep at the Agricultural Research, Development and Experiment Center, or ARDEC, in Fort Collins. The sheep facility provides students in the Department of Animal Sciences the opportunity to practice and apply what they learn in the classroom. "The students got the animals ready for the National Western Stock Show and were the exhibitors," said Animal Sciences Assistant Professor Kraig Peel.
The sheep were fitted and shown by CSU students with Mackensey Priest, manager of the sheep unit, providing the leadership. Priest has helped to guide the CSU flock into a top spot among the Southdown breed nationwide. The CSU flock consistently places in the top five of every class in which they are entered. The top placing came in the Southdown breed. A group of breeding females was donated to CSU by the Southdown association more than 10 years ago. Faculty and students have improved the genetics significantly, and the CSU flock is now a premier supplier of Southdown breeding stock nationwide.
"The CSU sheep unit is the model of student ownership," said Peel, who provides oversight for the sheep unit. "Mackensey and the other students who work with her have taken on the daily care of the animals and facilities as though they were their own."
The sheep research and teaching unit at ARDEC consists of 35 Suffolk/Hampshire ewes and 45 Southdown ewes. The unit provides the opportunity for students to get hands-on education. The sheep at the unit are used for reproduction and nutrition research, judging team practices and a series of courses for students in the Department of Animal Sciences including animal handling, ultrasound, veterinary technology and sheep production.