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The Pocahontas Times
Marlinton, West Virginia
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June 3, 1982     The Pocahontas Times
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June 3, 1982
 

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THE POCAI'IONTA$ TIMES- JUNE 3, 19-Page 8 Coc,ratlv, Farmer I Alxll I Lq Ivan Barlow makes more heyday in sheep was in the late 1800s, money with sheep than cattle, but it's not easy by Charles I. Batchelor Associate Editor as It was tough getting Ivan Barlow to say something nice about the sheep business, but we finay did get a positive comment after an hour of talking with him. "I can make more money with sheep than with cattle," the West Virginia farmer said candidly. "But, there is more work with sheep. I've seriously been thinking about cutting my sheep back and getting a few more cattle." Barlow is not a kill-joy; it has just been that kind of year--or years--for the sheep business in general. Actually, he admitted to enjoying sheep. How the sheep economy does "in general" is important to Barlow because he's in the purebred business. For all purebred sheep breeders, fewer people in the business means fewer customers. Barlow is untypical in other ways as well. Although he looks closer to 50, the Marlinton, W. Va., farmer is actu- ally 70 years old. And Barlow's sheep are unusual--not the popular Suffolks, but Hampshires instead. The farm's hloodlines can be traced back to the tom of the century when Barlow's dad started in the sheep business. With his long experience in sheep, it's understandable why Barlow has such a bleak outlook concerning the indus- try. "I remember when the lamb market here at the peak of the season would move 2,500 to 3,000 lambs a week," he recalled. "Now it's closer to 500." The figures for the state confirm ! Barlow's impressions. West Virginia's n00OORE"$ #IMI(@VRnS PRODUClr'S Y Sale Prices Good Thru June 5, 19821 I [ I llll I when the state reported 800,000 sheep and lambs in 1885. There was a renewed interest in sheep in the early 1930s, according to Glen Smith of the West Virginia Crop Reporting Service. In 1933 the state had some 631,000 sheep. Those numbers continued to decline, but in the last 10 years the drop has been very severe--from 162,000 sheep in 1972 to the 110,000 reported January of this year The sheep numbers have more or less remained steady for the past 4 years. With 1 I0 brood ewes and four stud rams, all 100 percent Hampshire, Bar- low raises about 60 head each year to sell to other sheep producers as replace- ment ewes or stud rams. The rest of the Iambs axe sold to slaughter, which means that Barlow has all the problems of the commercial producer, plus some. Of course, most any commercial pro- duccr would love to have the fine blood- lines Barlow has to worry over. Selling purebreds to other farmers is definitely one way to get a better market price, agreed Barlow. But the profit is not where yon might expect. For example, the ram is generally seen as the money maker for the pure- bred operation. It is true that a good ram can pull down the big dollars. "But, it takes a lot to grow a yearling ram. Yon can get a lot, but you've got to put a lot of feed in them. I wonder, as far as profit goes, if there is as much money in yearling rams as in ram lambs," noted Barlow. Most of Barlow's grown ewes go to other purebred breeders, with the com- mercial farms mostly interested in a good ram. While the Suffolk breed has swept the country, Barlow claimed there is still a place for a Hampshire ram in many commercial sheep flocks. "What helps the Hampshire breed today is the extreme type of sheep that are being bred. Some breeds are so ex- ARROW All Galvanized Metal Lawn Buildings... Galvanized to resist rust and corrosion. Precut & Pre-punched foreasy assembly. Can be assembled with only a few simple hand tools. Sizes are Nominal. 10x9 Portland Building 120" wide x 107'h" deep x 70W' high Tie Down Anchor Kit... I .99 treme that they don't have any meat and they take too long to get to market. Hampshires will produce a lamb with more muscle and get on the market in 4, 5 or at the most, 6 months. "Yes, there is some hybrid vigor, but the big problem is this compact type," he continued. "My lambs will be ready for market at a lighter weight. Today, if you get up around 135 lb, the market doesn't want to take them, and if the buyers do, they'll discount you heavy." With his very pure line of Hamp- shire sheep, Barlow can't see calling animals with just a high percent of one breed "purebred." "There are few, if any, places in the U.S. I can buy a purebred Hampshire sheep today. All the breeds are mixed. Cattle are the same way. You lose a lot of that hybrid vigor after the first cross," he said. "Performance tested rams are great, but we also need the purebred to continue to provide that hybrid vigor." The mention of "performance tested" brought up another problem with the sheep industry in West Virginia. Ac- "I wouldn't handle sheep without a good dog," says Baflow. "People won't take time to train them. I haven't spent all the time I should have with this new pup." cording to Barlow, there is not enough "leadership" in the state's sheep in- dustry As an example, he points to the fact that the West Virginia Extension Serv- ice has no full-time sheep specialist. "If the sheep industry is going to come back, it's going to be from the part-time farmers, and they're the ones who really need some supervision--we just don't have it. There is no one at the Extension Service or our state de- partment of agriculture to really push it," he said. Another reason why, as a sheep pro- ducer, Barlow is wary of the "powers that he" in Charleston comes up when he discusses the predator problem. No one can talk to a sheep producer these days and not hear how dogs are destroying the industry. BoW wild dogs and people's house pets can wipe out a producer's profits in one night. Good fences---expensive to .install in West Virginia--are the only sure answer. "I haven't had much trouble with dogs in a couple of years. At one time the owner of a trailer court nearby did not allow dogs, but since his death I drove by there and there were dogs all over the place. I hate to shoot some- body's dog, but what can you do?" Barlow asked. In the hills of West Virginia, however, there is still another predator problem besides dogs--black bears. "The De- partment of Natural Resources wants to increase the bear population," explained Barlow. "There is a bear sanctuary just a few miles from here. And now I understand that someone wants to in- troduce coyotes back in the state." According to Paul Lewis, animal sci- entist with West Virginia's Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station in Morgantown, part of the intent of pub- lic forest management is to encourage multiple use which includes hunting, recreation, timbering and grazing. "The sheep is a resource the same as the I l III I nil III iil/ I Parrott Wood Storage Buildings You Can Oo-II-Yourdf Pce-xa -umbered ove- kWs ,ures aconite thn 0 & htt,n9 Of al cr,ca angles Just e ovqery on )ard mark =m cu! You c o *! rseff wm every Oy hno provides each pattern piece you need to cut out the components. You get the framing, lumber, roof and wall panels. Roofing, nails, hardware and ;materials for floor or base are not included 899x9 2499o00 Deluxe 12x17 Murryhill Ext. Dim 145"wx202"d xl02,'h. 195 square ft. storage area Allow 10 days for delivery 99 Roof Coating or Cement One 5 per bundle G,llon ... 3.99 Gallon... 12.99 699 5 Gallon 24 Unfaced sq. ft Fiberglass Roof Sh!ngles Aluminum Roof Coating Driveway Coating nlO e."Fiberglas'Kra" Fac. ................. Insulation ..m: 20 year warranty Class "A Fire One t  5   Driveway Sealer and Rating Choice of Stock Color=. Gallon ... 0.00 Gallon,.. L-oO Filler .......... 5 Gallon ....... .'eO 16" insulation Support (IDO) ........ Economy Stud 79 599 s ,xo'xw' ass 39,? outhem Yellow Pine Sanded ; 770362 sout vel,, Ptne 4'x$'xV=" Plywood Extedor Grade Plywood Tlll Textured Siding ...t I" Mill Certified W' Thick x4'X8". ................. I s Southern Yellow Pine ' Precut Spruce W' ThiCk x4'xS' ................. 17.90 4'x8'x%", grooved 8" on center. mOORe'S Illlll I I I llili COVINGTON, VA U.S. Routes 220 & O0 East at Exit $, I 64 Phone: 1703] 2-4S36 0:00 a.m. to S:S) p.m. Frklay 0:00 a.m. to 0:00 p.m. Saturday 8:00 a.m. @ 4:30 p.m. II CHARGE ITI bear," Lewis said. "The Department of Natural Re- sources wants to increase bear popula- tion, which means that the bear must have additional habitat. Expansion of both resources through utilization of the same or adjoining habitat areas in- creases the chances of conflict, with the sheep often losing," said Lewis. Law provides for farmers to be com- pensated from state funds for sheep killed by bears. But, Lewis added, there are pitfalls for the farmers. First, they must prove bear damage and prepare an estimate of loss. And, the farmer isn't paid for associated losses caused by attacks such as abortions or reduced gains in productivity. A special stamp must be purchased to hunt bears in West Virginia. Ac- cording to the State's Department of Natural Resources, about 3,000 hunters purchased stamps each year from 1977 through 1980. Since 1974, the hunters have paid a total of $74,696 for stamps. However, total bear damage claims of $127,365 have been paid out. These claims are paid from the stamp fund until it is exhausted, then from general revenue. One claim, in the case of sheep, can include one animal or several. A good ewe can be worth $125; a cull, $10 The average compensation from all sources, including county commission claims and state funds for bear damage, was $11 per head, far below replace- ment costs. Lewis cites a predator survey of sheep producers in 1979 by John Peters, a WWU animal scientist. The respond- ents, 25 percent of all sheep producers in the state who owned half the state's sheep, lost an annual average of 1,683 sheep to predators. Another problem for sheep producers comes when it's time to harvest the wool. "Finding someone to shear my sheep is a serious problem," said Bar- low. "It's a problem everywhere---we had two men from here go out west The yading rams are kept up during the winter. Barlow says there's a lot of interest in his rams every other year. recently to shear sheep. Out there all the labor is working on the oil rigs, so no one is interested in shearing." Bar- low noted that his breed was unpopular with shearers became they're so big. Hampshire rams can grow as heavy as 300 ib, the ewes are dose to 200 lb. Another "problem" with Barlow's breed as far as shearers are concerned is that the faces of the sheep are often tightly surrounded by wool, making them difficult to clip. Barlow is aware of this problem, so he selects repla- ment ewes and rams with open faces, along with good legs and feet, and overall good conformation. Sheep producers hear over and over again how the packers have to be kept happy and Barlow does his best. But in the purebred business there is some- times a conflict between raising a good lamb for slaughter and a good replace- ment. "There is till a controversy over whether there is a big difference be- tween a ram and a wether. Most people seem to believe the ram lamb has a tougher hide and is a little heavy in the neck. The packers don't want that. "So, I'm castrating my lambs this year. And you know what will happen--- the ones yon keep you should have castrated and the ones you castrated yon should have kept," said Barlow without a trace of humor. "That's what happened last year when I castrated a few lambs. It's tough to see all their potential when they're just a week or so old." The potential of the sheep industry in West Virginia is also difficult to judge. But, the state's prs caa surely do better than average a 92 per- cent lamb crop, which is what the most recent research revealed. Asked what is needed to change for shee R to make a comeback, Barlow mentioned stronger markets, and preda- Here is the Min Mountain Mama R the-Month: Chocolate Chip wrapped in ile comes from Washington, D. C. Total Lead Time: 35 Inputs: 1 cup packed brown sug r /= cup granulated sugar 9= cup softened butter V= cup shortening 2 eggs 1 t/, teaspoons vanilla 2a cups all-purpose I teaspoon baking so V teaspoon salt 12-ounce package chocolate pieces I cup chopped Guidance: After procurement containerize inputs. measurement tasks ota s case basis. Ina impact heavily on granulated sugar, sa and shortening. interface of eggs avoiding an overrun the best of your At this point in time, flour, baking soda and bowl and aggregate. with prior mixture intense and continuo ed. Associate key nut subsystems and ring operations, Within this time action to prepare environment for manually unit by hand to 375 degrees Fahrenheit grees Celsius). Drop an ongoing fashion fro spoon implement onto greased cookie sheet sufficient apart total and throughtputs to the extent practicable under hag conditions. Position cookie sheet situation and surveil for [ minutes or until terminates. Initiate of outputs function. Containerize, red tape and authorized staff timely and expeditious Output: Six dozen official chocolate-chip cool  tot" control, but after thinking aboat the long-time sheepman noted that of all, anyone interested in sheep go in the business .willing to do necessary work. "It is hard work, it takes time. make money you have to save la and that can take a lot of time. A 1 percent lamb crop is a lamb that hits the ground has to But we can't continue to do the thing our fathers and grandparents di for one thin& th6 pastures arer :t What I'm talking about is good :worL That's what is needed." pler yl for hS? like . will clim steep hilt Keeping lambs from getting too heavy is a problem for manY producers now with the grading standards becom- ing Ighter. BadoW says his Hamp- I shires can help ' the situation.