Who are the Natural Colored Sheep Growers?
For many years, sheep producers around the world have maintained exotic, rare, and colored breeds of sheep. These animals are the genetic roots of today’s natural colored sheep.
Australia is one of the leading producers of sheep in the world and it is not surprising that natural colored sheep producers in Australia have formed four associations or societies with over 2000 members.
In North America, sheep breeders have developed and maintained natural colored flocks in for well over 30 years. In 1974 the first Black Sheep Newsletter was published to satisfy the growing demand for information and communication between natural colored sheep breeders. Sachiye Jones, the BSN editor, was overwhelmed at the enthusiasm, interest and rapid growth of her publication.
Why A Natural Colored Wool Growers Association?
Within the group of Black Sheep Newsletter subscribers came a recognition of the need for an association to stress the development of quality natural colored sheep and wool. In 1977, with the combined effort of the Black Sheep Newsletter and colored sheep producers in California, the NCWGA was formed.
NCWGA was established to fulfill the needs of sheep breeders developing colored wools:
- For the use of spinners and weavers
- To establish quality standards
- To maintain a registry database
- To unite colored sheep breeders across the United States.
Some of the practical advantages of forming an association are:
- An organization can exert political or numerical force when needed. For example, dog control laws which protect the sheep producer, or the expansion of fairs and sheep shows to include colored sheep judging.
- An organization can work with other organizations, something difficult for an individual.
- An organization can undertake large projects beyond the scope or resources of the individual, such as flock registration or scholarship awards.
- An organization can provide a large gene pool for the development of colors and markings.
Why A Separate Newsletter?
As the Black Sheep Newsletter became the voice of the colored sheep breeders, spinners, and weavers it also became the voice of the natural colored wool growers. The two groups shared space in the BSN until July 1979 when the NCWGA published its own newsletter. A name contest was held and the name The Marker won.
Paralleling the development of the Black Sheep Newsletter, the Natural Colored Wool Growers Association also experienced tremendous interest and rapid growth. The rapid growth made it necessary to form separate regions and districts. The idea was to develop greater efficiency, closer ties with members, and a larger pool of developmental ideas.
What Has The Natural Colored Wool Growers Association Accomplished?
For the first time in the history of sheep husbandry, colored sheep are recognized. Standards have been adopted for both colored sheep and their fleeces and these standards have been accepted at fairs and expositions across the nation.
A sheep registry program has been established and now contains more than 50,000 sheep registrations.
Regional Directors across the US and Canada are bringing together colored sheep breeders through meetings, fleece quality workshops, sheep shows, fiber festivals, and demonstrations to improve the quality of our product for the consumer.
What Are The Benefits To Members?
- NCWGA provides multiple avenues for advertising of fleeces, sheep, or related products via our website and newsletter across the nation and to an international audience.
- NCWGA supports natural colored sheep breeding programs through articles of general interest.
- NCWGA provides for the identification, retention, and dissemination of natural colored wool genetics through individual sheep registration.
- NCWGA publishes The Marker, a quarterly magazine-style newsletter, sent to all paid members.
- NCWGA’s Scholarship program has provided monetary awards to many NCWGA Junior members.
- NCWGA supports a national show that rotates through the Eastern, Central, and Western Districts in the United States, giving members nationwide an opportunity to participate in the festivities.
- NCWGA provides interest, enthusiasm, education and social opportunities for all its members.