January 21, 2000 | By: Aimee D. Heald

Sheep producers in Western Kentucky gathered at UK's Research and Education Center in Princeton, Ky. on January 15 to discuss issues and concerns facing the sheep industry. University of Kentucky College of Agriculture Extension Sheep Specialist, Monty Chappell led discussions on many aspects of the industry, including how Kentucky's sheep industry will be competitive.

Being competitive in today's sheep market involves realizing many factors. Producers need to see the importance of a forage- based operation. Kentucky has great forage potential and if producers will learn to optimize their forage production, the sheep operation will benefit and profit.

The sheep facilities at UK's new Animal Research Facility in Woodford County will provide an excellent place to study forages for the sheep industry to benefit all Kentuckians.

Other key ways to be competitive are direct-marketing, creating and marketing value-added products, and by boosting production to a 170 to 190-percent lamb crop.

"The producer can still be competitive in Kentucky, if we are willing to direct market our product and explore specialty products and other markets," Chappell said.

Ways that will indirectly increase the marketability of Kentucky sheep is for producers to utilize improved sheep genetics and to keep accurate production records and lambing data.

Many producers were attending an Extension sheep conference for the first time in Kentucky. Rainey Sadler, Morton's Gap, Ky., has a small herd of sheep of various breeds. She spins her own wool, makes candles from tallow and sells some of the animals for meat.

"This is my first conference like this," Sadler said. "I've been to a few in Tennessee, but they were more like social gatherings for owners and breeders. I've learned quite a bit on the genetic and fertility end here today; a lot that I'll be able to take home and use in my operation."

Cooperative Extension has been focusing on sheep production more in the recent months, since the industry is so viable and possibly an untapped resource for many Commonwealth producers.

The twelfth annual UK winter lambing school will provide new and veteran sheep producers with the essential skills needed to get them through the critical phases of a ewe's late gestation, the lambing period and early lactation. The event is scheduled for February 9, 2000 at the new Animal Research Facility on US Hwy. 62 near Versailles, in Woodford County, Ky.

Applied management and hands-on opportunities, related to the care of the ewe in late gestation through creep feeding of lambs, will be covered in two, half-day sessions. The first session will be from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. A repeat of the session will be from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

"Even though the new facilities are "cutting-edge," the subject-matter presented maintains the tradition of a basic management program to achieve maximum neo-natal lamb survival," Chappell said.

Registration is free and should be sent to: 2000 Lambing School, 911 W.P. Garrigus Bldg., University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40546–0215. For more information, call or e-mail Monty Chappell at (606) 257-2716, mchappel@ca.uky.edu.


Monty Chappell 606-257-2716