Tunis Sheep Story Expansion by 03UzMgq

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									                                                                       February 5, 2008

      FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                               For More Information Contact:
                                                                          Dale Huhnke
                                                                         630-881-8108

               Tunis Sheep Breed Expanding Across the United States

Milo, IA— Recent USDA numbers are showing that breeding sheep inventory is down.
But one breed of sheep is showing a remarkable increase. Tunis sheep, known as the red
heads, is showing remarkable growth on farms across the United States. There have been
such large requests from the western United States for Tunis breeding sheep, that eastern
producers are hard put to fill the orders.

With its remarkable growth, the National Tunis Sheep Registry, Inc. has brought about its
moving its registration offices to Milo, Iowa. On February 1, 2007, the American
Hampshire Sheep and Associated Registries handle all registrations of Tunis sheep. The
Tunis will make it the nineteenth breed. The Tunis registry has not only outgrown its
home based offices numerically but the fastest growing sheep breed is expanding west of
the Mississippi River.

According to former National Tunis Clerk Judy Harris, the number of registrations has
grown steadily. “In 1990 there were 605 Tunis sheep that were registered. In 2000 there
were 1,070 registered. In 2005 there were over 1,250 Tunis sheep that were registered.”

With these growing trends, the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy (ALBC) has
moved the Tunis sheep breed up on their conservation priority list from “threatened” to
“watch” status. According to Don Schrider, Communication Director of ALBC, “this
move reflects the excellent job Tunis breeders are doing promoting this American
treasure. Tunis sheep now stand as an example of a rare American breed that is
successfully growing in population and earning recognition for its outstanding production
characteristics.” Tunis sheep were almost “wiped out” during the Civil War because they
were sought after meat in the war.

Members of the breed corporation sponsor shows and sales across the United States that
not only benefit established Tunis breeders but also youth and new sheep breeders to this
rare breed. Since moving their National Tunis Sale from the northeast to Wooster, Ohio
in 2003, the National Tunis Association has seen growth in the number of Tunis breeders
selling and buying Tunis sheep from Ohio westward. This Memorial Day weekend sale is
in conjunction with the Great Lakes Wool Festival.
According to Banner Sales Management, the 2007 National Tunis Sale had a record of
over 96 head of Tunis sheep consigned to the sale. At the national sale in 2004, there
were 52 head of Tunis sold with sale average of $480. In 2005 there were 51 head of
Tunis with a sale average of $542. In 2006 there were over 64 head of Tunis sold with an
average of $405.

In 2006, Tunis breeders added another sale in the Midwest. Now in its third year, the
Tunis Summer Spectacular show and sale will be held June 20 and 21 at the Illinois State
Fairgrounds in Springfield, Illinois. There are over 30 head of Tunis rams and ewes to be
sold at this sale. To help young sheep breeders interested in purchasing Tunis sheep, there
will be a free drawing for over $100 in sale credits for a youth and new breeders that go
toward purchases at the Tunis sale.

Tunis ewe lambs that are entered in the National Tunis Sale and Tunis Summer
Spectacular are eligible for the National Tunis Futurity youth contest. The Tunis Futurity
has been developed to encourage and support youth interest in Tunis sheep. Boys and
girls have the opportunity to purchase quality ewe lambs and breeders have the
opportunity to promote their breeding flock, showcase their best entries and to encourage
interest in the Tunis sheep breed. Sponsored by the Northeast Tunis Sheep Association,
the Futurity is open to all breeders and all youth purchasers. Boys and girls earn points at
any show regardless if the ewe lamb is shown in an “all other breeds” class or Tunis
class.

According to Tunis breeder Linda Cook of Muncie, Indiana, “The Indiana State Fair has
offered a Tunis show in 2007. The August show not only is for established Tunis
breeders from across the country, but the Indiana State Fair offers a 4-H Tunis market
lamb class and a breed class for Indiana 4-H members.”

The National Tunis Sheep Registry, Inc. also has a youth breed promotion representative,
scholarships and some new publications. The 2007 youth representative is Sean Harper of
Southwick, Massachusetts. Harper, 17, has raised a flock of Tunis sheep for five years.

In 2004, a standard-sized magazine was introduced called THE TUNIS SPIRIT. This
annual magazine features a directory of Tunis breeders from across the United States. A
full color promotional brochure proclaiming “Not Everything in the Sheep Business is
Black and White” touting the positive aspects of owning and breeding Tunis Sheep is part
of promoting the breed. Plus information on the Tunis is available on the web. Go to
www.tunissheep.org.

Since the first Tunis was imported into the United States in 1799 into Philadelphia, its
popularity has been a geographic phenomenon. It was popular in the Southeast United
States and moved as far west into Indiana and Illinois in the 1800’s but more recently the
Northeast and Ohio regions have seen the bulk of the Tunis sheep flocks. The breed was
nearly wiped out during the Civil War because of its fine flavor of meat.


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