January 6, 2014 | By: Aimee Nielson

Small ruminant production has steadily grown in Kentucky, and the state’s farmers have realized the potential of raising sheep and goats. In fact, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture reports that the Bluegrass state ranks No. 5 in goat production and is home to nearly 68,000 goats. Sheep numbers have increased more than 50 percent over the past 10 years, and now approximately 43,000 sheep graze Kentucky pastures.

The University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment is teaming up with the Kentucky Sheep and Goat Development Office, the Kentucky Goat Producers Association and the Kentucky Sheep and Wool Producers Association to offer the 2014 Kentucky Small Ruminant Grazing Conference at the Fayette County Extension office in Lexington. Scheduled for Feb. 1, the conference will offer many sessions for all levels of experience.

“We have learning opportunities for anyone who is interested in raising small ruminants,” said David Ditsch, director of the UK Robinson Center for Appalachian Resource Sustainability in Quicksand. “As in the past, we will present science-based research that producers can apply in their own operations.”

The daylong event begins with a welcome at 8:30 a.m. EST, followed by an economics and marketing update at 8:40 a.m. Sessions begin at 9:15 a.m. Morning sessions will focus on forage management, reproduction and health management. Topics include:

·         The agronomic and livestock benefits of rotational grazing

·         The KDA Hay Testing Program

·         Environmental stewardship for small ruminant production

·         Parasite management

After lunch, Ray Kaplan, professor of parasitology at the University of Georgia, will discuss how grazing management can reduce the parasite burden.

Tom Keene, UK hay specialist, will moderate a producer panel at 1:30 p.m. about forage systems. The regular meeting will adjourn at 2:30 p.m. Participants can attend an optional FAMACHA training at 2:45 p.m. FAMACHA is a program designed to help producers of small ruminants diagnose parasite infection.

Preregistration, due Jan. 24, is $25 for the conference and an additional $15 for the FAMACHA training. A copy of the program and registration form can be downloaded from the UK Robinson Center website at http://www2.ca.uky.edu/rcars.

Those planning to attend the conference should send name, address, phone number and email address along with payment to UK Robinson Center for Appalachian Resource Sustainability, attn. Jackie Allen, 130 Robinson Road, Jackson, KY 41339.


David Ditsch, 606-666-2438, ext. 231

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