by Sue Waller Holler, BS 83, MS 86 Animal Science, Purdue University


March 2016

It has been busy the first 3 weeks in March as we added over 500 new lambs to the farm. We are thankful that we are done with this group by Easter Sunday.  We made it to church this morning, did chores and had some time to rest.  Larry is back in the barn trying to reassemble the Massey 1135 tractor that is in pieces after a PTO shaft break this winter.  It’s tough being the CEO of this operation. The 1 and 2 year old ewes are due to lamb in May. We continue to push hard to move GM1 into clinical trials. The Shepherd’s Gift is fundraising and we are getting packets out for the Brookings GM1 for HD Golf Classic this July. It seems we go from busy to extremely busy then back to very busy.

June 2015

The older ewes lambed in March while the one and two year olds, as well as some that lambed last fall, lambed mid April to Mid May. This added almost 800 lambs to the farm.  We finished lambing just in time to enjoy High School Graduation for our older son, Paul.  He will be attending Lake Area Tech this fall for Ag Diesel Technology.  As fast as stuff breaks around here we are looking forward to the skill set he will add to the farm.  He’s working full time at Farmers Implement getting on the job experience but that means we see a lot less of him these days.

The summer DLGC meeting is coming up this weekend.  It’s shaping up to be another inspirational meeting as we continue to move the project forward.  GM1 for HD!

Merry Christmas 2014

We are enjoying some quality off farm time with Larry’s family in KC.  It’s a nice break from the farm especially since it has more mud than we’ve seen in the last 2 decades. Usually everything is frozen this time of year.  It’s not supposed to rain in Dec. in SD.   On Tues we ultrasounded the group of ewes due to lamb in March (and got covered in mud which was almost as fun as mud wrestling just smellier).  Larry was pleased with the appearance of the pregnancies and 96% of the group is confirmed pregnant so you can start planning your lambing time visit.  The next group will be ultrasounded in early Feb and is due to lamb Mid-April to Mid-May.

fall 2014 lambs 2 lambs with orange stripe are a rich source of GM1

Fall lambing in mid-Sept. went well.  It was a small group (37 ewes).  Since they were synchronized they all lambed in a week, it just happened to overlap with putting up corn silage.  The weather was good and the turn around time on genetic test results was only 5 days, thus affected lambs and their mothers could be segregated.  We added 8 more GM1 affected lambs to the HD treatment effort and they are some of the best looking lambs we’ve produced thus far!  I had trouble picking them out of the whole group without looking at the test result data.


New spring additions to the GM1 flock.  These lambs seem to appreciate their new barn

May 14, 2014

Our new barn was truly a lamb life saver as March temps reached record lows.  When you weigh 10 lbs and arrive soaking wet in nearly zero degree temps a warm insulted room is a God send. We have about 400 new lambs in our March group.  As of the middle of May we are starting to lamb out the next group of yearling ewes along with a few older ewes that waited for warmer weather.  Genetic results are pending to determine the number of affected lambs able to produce GM1 for potential HD treatment.   We continue on our path of raising these lambs in the hopes that we can improve the quality and dignity of life for HD families. Unfortunately the news from NIH – NCATS/TRND was not what we were hoping and praying for so the clinical trials we thought we imminent are now delayed.

Finishing Touches

New lambing barn 2014

New Lambing Barn

January 14, 2014 –Happy New Year!

As we start the new year we have several updates to be thankful for.  We are closer than ever to clinical trials.  The exterior of our new lambing barn is complete and we are hoping to have the interior finished by shearing time (Feb. 7th and 8th) so the freshly shorn ewes can move in.  Fortunately Electrician is one of Larry’s many talents.  There will be about 300 ewes due to lamb in March with the remainder in May.  The May group will be mostly carrier ewe lambs.  Thankfully a local visionary stepped forward to purchase these females and keep them in the flock.  We have bred the ewes to produce the maximum number of affected (homozygous recessive) lambs to produce GM1 to facilitate pending clinical trials. We are anticipating a busy yet exciting year as we move closer to impacting HD patient lives with GM1 treatment.

summer grazing in Eastern SD







May 22, 2013

We started lambing the new crop of GM1 lambs on Feb. 26th, 2013, due to facility constraints we divided the ewes into 2 groups.  The second group started April 7th and the last ewe lambed on May 21st.  It has been a long lambing season with especially challenging weather.  Most years by April the reality of spring is appearing. This “spring” we had record snowfall.  Lambing is always a lot of physical work entailing long hours, as we haven’t figured out a way to insure lambs are born only during the day. This year the weather made it much harder.  After raising these lambs for 20 years, I have a suspicion of which lambs are the homozygous recessive lambs that could potentially save lives.  At this stage their behavioral differences are subtle.  I can only hope that these lambs will provide the GM1 to treat a Huntington’s or Parkinson’s patient to improve their quality of life.  Currently we have all the costs of raising these lambs and no return, only the hope that we can make a difference for someone.  Unfortunately, this is not sustainable, we need to generate some revenue to continue feeding these extraordinary sheep.  The Feb/March born lambs are growing well and I will soon need to make the decision as to whether these new carrier (heterozygous) ewe lambs return to the flock as breeding females to produce more GM1 lambs or whether they end up on a dinner plate as a lamb chop.  For this year if there is still no clinical trial started for which the GM1 is needed, they will become the later in an effort to sustain the rest of the flock, as we currently have about 1000 mouths to feed.

I certainly understand the urgency of a clinical trial for HD/PD patients but there also is an urgency on the farm as we try to maintain the flock that could save lives.  Keeping in mind that sheep have a 5 month gestation.  It takes a year to produce a lamb that can be a source of GM1.  These lambs are extraordinary in that each lamb could produce an estimated 5 gm of GM1, theoretically enough to treat an HD patient for a year.  Although we have raw material stockpiled (enough for a clinical trial), more lambs are needed.  Since GM1 has not been able to be synthesized in large enough quantities to treat patients, these sheep are the only source that can give hope to HD patients.

In summary, there is a very urgent need for a treatment.  GM1 has been to shown to have remarkable effects in reversing HD symptoms.  We have a source of GM1.  So the resulting question is why isn’t there a clinical trial in progress???? 

8 Responses to Sheep

  1. Tricia Wempe says:

    Keep up the Shepherd’s blog. Your perspective needs to be heard!

    May God speed investor(s) that will step in to help sustain the operation so these lambs can make a difference in HD/PD patients!


  2. Tara Hansen says:

    We support you. We know this battle.. it is one we fight daily in out loves ones that have JHD and HD. We appreciate all you have done to bring this research to clinical trial.

    • admin says:

      I had a vision for our new slogan, GM1 for JHD! I think I like it.
      Take care,

  3. John 21:15-17 A lesson to heed the call to help in Humility, Faith, Hope, and Love. says:

    15 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.
    16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
    17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

    • admin says:

      Thankyou Jonathan,
      I have heard those words in my dreams over the years. When we look back over all the years working on this project, I can often see the Lords fingerprints, nudging us along the path. The hardest thing to do is to trust and let him continue leading the way.
      Take care,

  4. Tara Hansen says:

    Larry and Sue,
    Prayers and hope are with you all always,
    So happy that GM1Research seems to be moving forward.
    Your hard work and refusing to give up even when the hardships seemed to over run will be rewarded.

  5. Nicki Oss says:

    Hi Larry and Sue. My husband, who has Huntingtons Disease, met Larry last fall when he was in Sioux City to present for a veterinary conference. We are very anxious and excited about all you are doing! We will continue to look for udpates regarding progress toward clinical trials. Please let us know if there is anything we can do to help move things forward, including fund raising opportunities to support your efforts. God Bless!

    • admin says:

      Thanks Nicki,
      We are a little slow with the updates as we are in the middle of lambing. We have made significant progress toward a clinical trial for GM1, and are currently in the last phase of the acceptance process with NIH. We should no the result in the next two to three weeks. Your husband and many like him are why we work so hard pushing to bring the GM1 that these lambs produce to clinical trial. We truly believe that these lambs were created for this purpose, an we are just their shepherds. Feel free to come and visit anytime. We may need to do some fundraising to keep going, as it appears NIH, while they will be a tremendous help on the clinical and pharma side of things, doesn’t really have a good way to fund the sheep portion of the project. I think of your husband often and pray that we can continue to be faithful to our calling.
      Take care,
      Larry Holler DVM, PhD
      Call me (605) 695-0984, if I can help you in any way.

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