February 16, 2000 | By: Aimee D. Heald

One of the main goals of the new University of Kentucky Animal Research Unit is education. The research conducted in the top-notch facilities is carried out to better Kentucky agriculture.

On February 9, the Sheep Unit opened its doors to the public for the first time when it hosted the UK College of Agriculture's twelfth annual winter lambing school. Participants from Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, New Jersey, and Indiana gathered to learn more about ewe gestation, lambing, and lactation.

"These facilities are awesome," John Nozell, Wilmore, Kentucky sheep producer, said. "I was at the other farm last year, but these are incredible. This should be a real benefit to the University."

Nozell and his wife Janie brought their children to the lambing school to learn more about the sheep industry. He said they have only been raising sheep for a couple years.

"I want to learn as much as I possibly can," Nozell added. "I don't think I could've done it without working with Winston (Deweese) and the staff here."

Monty Chappell, UK Extension sheep specialist, taught at the lambing school and had the help of Winston Deweese, UK sheep center research specialist and shepherd.

"The design of our new facility emphasizes education as an important function of the structure," Chappell said. "Our conference room will seat 25 to 30 people. We have three other areas in the structure to accommodate similar sized groups for ‘sit-down' instruction. The barn area is well-lit to facilitate hands-on instruction for even larger groups and we can park 125 to 150 vehicles in our gravel parking lot."

Many features of the new sheep center will be conducive to effective research that can be shared with the public, universities, animal scientists, sheep producers, etc. (See Sidebar)

Chappell believes the sheep center will close a gap that exists in the sheep industry and will tap an area of research that will benefit any ruminant industry.

"One of our major goals is to strengthen and expand the presence of our sheep program at UK. This lambing school involved 52 producers from Kentucky and four other states, including New Jersey," Chappell said. "More than one-third of our nation's sheep producers (24,000) live east of the Mississippi river."

The new facilities gives UK the opportunity to continue providing time-honored programs and expanding into new areas of educational programming for the Commonwealth and this region of the U.S.

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SIDEBAR - Features of the UK Sheep Research Unit

• Centrally located on 110 acres

• Wheel-wagon style paddocks from one acre to four acres in size; 16 paddocks accessible directly from the barn pens.

• Personnel facilities include a manager's office, conference room, laboratory for preparing and/or processing samples, and housing for two student employees.

• 12 enclosed 32 X 15 pens to hold 20 ewes and lambs each. Each pen has a 32 X 45 gravel run-out area accessible through overhead doors.

• Each pen has access to an automatic waterer and a creep area complete the design.

• Concrete bunk line feeders served by a 16-foot central alley.

• Lambing pen is central to ewe pen location. 64, 4 X 5-foot pens, which can be converted to 32 individual feeding pens. • A feed center with bins for storing grain, alfalfa pellets and other feedstuffs.

• Mixing and grinding equipment will permit on-site preparation of rations at the center.

• Corn silage is stored in two 14 X 45-foot silos, holding a total of 300 tons.

• Silage/alfalfa based diets are delivered via feed wagon.

• A 44 X 64-foot shed on the end of the facility suitable for portable working pens, etc.

• Manure deposited in the pastures is cycled through the growing pasture plants.

• Manure and straw bedding from the pens will be composted in a central composting facility and used on crop land as nutrient needs dictate.


Monty Chappell 606-257-2716