54th Biennial Spooner Sheep Day scheduled for Aug. 21

Contact: Dave Thomas, 608-836-4677, dlthomas@wisc.edu

The 54th Biennial Spooner Sheep Day will be held on Saturday, Aug. 21, 2010 at the Headquarters Building, Spooner Agricultural Research Station of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Spooner, WI. The themes for this year’s program are: predators and their control, and production and marketing of lambs.

David Ruid from USDA Wildlife Services will discuss predation by the big three – coyotes, wolves, and bears, and Janet McNally, a sheep producer from Hinckley, MN, will discuss her success in using guard dogs to decrease predation losses. Increasing wolf, bear, and coyote populations in Wisconsin and recent verified sightings of cougars in Wisconsin suggest that predation on sheep may become an even larger problem in the future than it is today.

Shortages of lambs in both the U.S. and internationally have resulted in record lamb prices in 2010. It appears that the shortage of lamb will continue for at least the next few years, resulting in a much improved economic situation for domestic lamb producers. Are you able to manage more ewes to take advantage of these high lamb prices? Greg Brickner, a sheep producer from Wonewoc, WI, will discuss his management system that allows him to run 200 ewes along with an off-farm job. Dave Thomas, Professor of Animal Sciences at UW-Madison, will discuss the various types of lambs desired by different markets and the projected returns from each type of lamb. For example, is a producer better off selling a young 75 pound lamb for $1.50/pound or an older 120 pound lamb for $1.25/pound?

The afternoon program will take place at the Spooner sheep research farm and will focus on pastures and facilities for sheep production. Randy Cutler of Cutler Fence LLC, Auburndale, WI, will demonstrate several fencing options for both controlled grazing and increased protection from predators. Phil Holman, Superintendent of the Spooner Station and the station agronomist, will discuss the establishment and longevity of sheep pastures focusing on the kura clover and orchardgrass pastures used at the station. Yves Berger, station sheep researcher, will offer a tour of the sheep barns and facilities pointing out aspects that make management of sheep easier and more efficient.

Registration begins at 8:30 a.m., and the formal program is scheduled to end at 3:00 p.m.  Attendance at the educational sessions of the Spooner Sheep Day is free, but there is a charge for the lamb barbecue lunch served at noon ($8.00 for adults and $5.00 for children under 12).

The Spooner Agricultural Research Station is located in northwestern Wisconsin on Highway 70 just west of Highway 53 and just east of the town of Spooner. For more information, contact Lorraine Toman (715-635-3735, lltoman@wisc.edu). The complete program can be viewed at http://www.uwex.edu/ces/animalscience/sheep/index.cfm.

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