DAVIS, Calif. — Superior Farms hosted the inaugural Sheep Industry Innovators Conference on July 19-21, 2018. Ranchers from across the country partnered with educators and industry leaders to discuss innovation and technology in the sheep industry. More than 75 attendees had the opportunity to hear from world class speakers and tour local ranches, UC Davis, and the Superior Farms processing facility.
Rick Stott, CEO and President of Superior Farms, opened the conference by affirming Superior Farms’ dedication to the American Sheep Industry and success through innovation. Stott encouraged attendees to look toward the future. “This is a great opportunity for all sectors of our industry to learn about new tools and technology to become more efficient. Superior Farms has invested heavily to improve our efficiency in production and working together with our producer and feeder partners we can all benefit,” said Stott.
The event was organized by Lesa Eidman, Director of Producer Resources and Sustainability for Superior Farms. “This conference was designed to be a platform for producers to gain knowledge regarding innovation and technology that can make a positive impact on the Industry,” says Eidman. “The relevant research and projects taking place today at UC Davis made their campus the perfect place to host our event.”
Featured speakers included Steve Elliott of Alltech, Dr. Noelle Cockett of Utah State University, and Dr. Brenda Murdoch of the University of Idaho. Topics included disruptors in the industry, agricultural opportunities related to CRISPR and genomics, and an overview of sheep genetics and related technology.
For the touring sessions, conference attendees took to the farm to learn hands-on applications of the technology and research discussed the previous day. Ryan Mahoney and Jeff Clark of Emigh Livestock shared their experience transitioning to RFID ear tags and automatic sorting equipment. Employee owners at Superior Farms opened the doors to the Dixon plant to showcase robotics, electronic camera grading, RFID traceability and new products. The day concluded back at UC Davis where Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam shared her CRISPR work on polled dairy bull calves and Dr. Cassandra Tucker discussed research being conducted for the Smart Farm initiative.
On the final day of the conference, Superior Farms introduced its Flock54 program which utilizes genotype by sequencing genetic tests, allowing producers to test their flock for genetic traits and parentage. Eidman revealed that the sheep industry should have access to this new program in the coming months.
Conference attendee Jake Thorne had this to say: “It was great to have discussions about innovative topics as opposed to the same old issues.” Several attendees remarked in similar fashion regarding the relevant, forward-thinking value they gained at the conference.
The event culminated with “Sheep Tank” group presentations, where attendees formed teams to brainstorm – and then present – new products and ideas that could propel the industry forward. According to the panel of investors and judges, each team did a phenomenal job thinking outside the box to help make a positive impact on the American Sheep Industry.
At the conference, Superior Farms unveiled a new video highlighting many of the technological advances they have launched to assist producer partners meet consumer demand and improve productivity.
Superior Farms looks forward to announcing the details of their next conference soon.
Founded in 1964 with headquarters in Sacramento, California, Superior Farms is North America’s largest, and most sustainable, processor and marketer of lamb. The company is the recognized leader in the retail and foodservice markets it serves, providing products and services to customers throughout the United States, Canada, and more than 10 countries. The company has approximately 400 employee-owners at its nationwide network of facilities and offices. Superior Farms is an employee-owned company whose members take pride in their individual roles and contributions to the company’s success. The Superior Farms family of brands includes Superior Farms, www.superiorfarms.com; Cascade Creek, www.cascadecreeklamb.com; Farmer’s Mark, www.farmersmark.com; Twitter: @eatlamb; Instagram: @superiorfarms.
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