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Commercial Sheep Production (BF 232)

BF232SheepManaging Your Flock for Success

Have sheep or thinking about getting a flock? Producers of all experience levels will find something for them in this lively, wide-ranging course. There is no one right way to raise sheep – just a palette of options for you to choose from, to suit your farming objectives and lifestyle.

Taught by experienced sheep producers and Cornell Cooperative Extension educators, this course will cover many of these different options, and strongly encourages active student participation.

Target Audience

ALL LEVELS – This course is designed for commercial producers seeking to build their knowledge in production, marketing, processing, and sales of lamb and sheep products, to have a more profitable enterprise. We will cover management styles and marketing for different types of sheep farms in NYS focusing on meat production. While NOT focused specifically on meat goat production, much of the course content will be applicable to goat producers.

Course Objectives

At the end of this course you will have:

  • Enhanced knowledge of nutrition, health management, housing and fencing, handling, record keeping, and selection of animals.
  • Identified opportunities for improving profitability through enhancing pasture productivity, controlling parasite issues, and reducing predator losses.

Webinars

The bulk of the course happens on your own time, with discussions, readings, and assignments in MOODLE, our virtual classroom. To add to the experience, webinars will be woven into the online interface of the course to allow you to meet on a weekly basis to learn from presenters and ask questions in real time. If you miss one, they are always recorded and posted for later viewing.

Instructors

Betsy F. Hodge, Livestock Educator, CCE St. Lawrence, owner of Double-H Sheep Company and also the shepherd at the Cornell Cooperative Extension Learning Farm, both in Canton, NY

Lynn Bliven, Agriculture Issue Leader with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Allegany County, NY. Owner of Wild Geese Farm LLC and contributing-author Guide to Farming in NY and On-Farm Poultry Slaughter Guidelines

Dates

January 18 – February 22, 2018, with webinars Thursday evenings from 7-8:30pm Eastern time. Webinars will be recorded for later viewing.

Course Outline

Week 1: Market possibilities and Strategies
Topics covered: Navigating in Moodle (our online classroom), course expectations, student introductions, sheep management systems and how they relate to marketing, your farm resources and the rest of your life.  Lambing at different times of year as well as how many times a year will be addressed.

Week 2: Matching Nutrition for Age & Stage  
Topics covered: Considerations for determining feeding styles, feeders and grouping of animals, forage analysis, the value of good forages, and the management of forage handling to minimize waste while maintaining quality.  A little pasture introduction will be included as well.

Week 3: Pasture, Parasites and Predators 
Topics covered: 3P’s of sheep production – management tools to improve pasture quality, reduce parasite issues, and minimize predator losses.  Grazing can be an integral part of sheep farming.  Learn about rotational grazing, fencing types, guardian animals, evasive grazing to control parasites, pasture improvement, how to measure the dry matter in your pasture and where to get a grazing plan.

Week 4: Health Management 
Topics covered:  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  Development of a flock health program, including planning to prevent health problems, vaccinations, foot care, biosecurity, and purchasing animals, developing a vet relationship, medicine storage, quality assurance programs.

Week 5: Financial Considerations of Sheep Farming and a quick look at Housing and Handling Systems 
Topics covered:  Creating a business, budgeting and financial planning for sheep farms, and decision making. Also a quick look at proper handling, basics of sheep behavior, space requirements, site selection, feeder and water placement, and housing options.

 Week 6: Record Keeping, identification methods, and selection methods to meet your goals 
Topics covered: Planning and record keeping, computer programs, resources to get you started and/or further develop plans for improving your sheep enterprise.

Cost and Registration

Fee for this course is $250.

Sign up a month or more in advance of the start date and receive $25 off. Sign up for three or more courses and receive $50 off your total.