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Role in Sheep Production Recalled by Border Collie Show


By dhowell - Posted on 03 January 2008

Because of its importance in the Manchester area for more than a century, the sheep and lamb industry highlighted Saturday's Centennial Day, the final day of the Community Fair.

Despite the rainy weather, crowds gathered at the Athletic Field for both the afternoon and evening performances. The entire cost of the presentation was underwritten by the Union Savings Bank.

Arthur N. Allen of Perthshire Farms in McLeansboro, Illinois, presented the shows. He was a contest winner in official trials in border collie events from 1946 to 1962 and has been featured in events at the International Livestock Exposition at Chicago and other shows.

The border collie was developed to have a characteristic "eye," or the power to control sheep with its eyes.

Washtenaw County is the second largest wool producing county east of the Missouri River. For many years it was in first place. Washtenaw is the largest in the state in sheep production and for many years the Black Top Merino breeds were the most popular. They are heavy wool producers, but the synthetics on the market has decreased the demand for wool.

Today, according to the Washtenaw Agricultural Office, the largest single breed is the Corriedale. This breed is a good wool and meat producer. Lamb ranks less than 10 per cent of the red meat sale in the state.

The Manchester area has more sheep shearers than any other in the state. For more than a century men have been active in the Sheep Shearers Association. The four townships, Sharon, Manchester, Freedom and Bridgewater have for many years been large sheep producing areas.

For many years Manchester was a major shipping point for wool producers in the county. Pasture land in the area has been used extensively for sheep, and—according to Bob McCory of the Washtenaw Extension office—most farms used to have some sheep, flocks of 150 to 200 ewes along with other livestock.

Washtenaw ranks first in the state in lamb feeding and there are several with three or four thousand head of lambs. Some of these large feeding farms bring in lambs from southwest Montana and Wyoming.

Some of the big farmers include the Finkbeiners of Saline, Herbert, Gerald and Raymond Jacob of Sharon and the Harold Hannewald farm on the Jackson county line.

Mrs. Lawrence Boettner of Bridgewater is the state chairman of the "Make it yourself with Wool" program for the state. In this program, according to Bob McCory, the wool producers pay most of the promotion on lamb and wool. Although the price of wool has dropped to 35 cents a pound (a low for recent years) the government has an incentive payment so that the price to farmers is about 65 cents a pound. This is to keep flocks in production because wool is listed "as an item for national defense."