November 7, 2008

Contact: Cornell Cooperative Extension: St. Lawrence County, Betsy Hodge: 315-379-9192, 315-379-0607 (messages); Jefferson County: Ron Kuck, 315-788-8450

Northern NY Sheep Days Set for November 18-19, 2008

High prices, feeding alternatives to save money, and the latest Cornell research are on the agenda for sheep meetings set for 6:30 pm November 18 at the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County office in Watertown and 6:30 pm November 19 at the Cornell Cooperative Extension of St. Lawrence County Learning Farm in Canton.

Dr. Michael L. Thonney of the Cornell Sheep Program at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, will share recent information that was presented at the Cornell Sheep Symposium.

Thonney, a professor at Cornell University since 1975, oversees the management of a 700-ewe flock of sheep at Cornell. The flock is evaluated for animal management, nutrition, health, selection, labor management and marketing practices for highly production sheep production systems. Purebred Dorset and Finnsheep flocks are managed for selection and fertility evaluation. There is also a commercial crossbred flock. Cornell practices winter grazing with its flocks.

At thje November meetings in Northern New York, Thonney will present options for minimizing feeding costs, while providing proper nutrition. With increasing feed and hay prices, producers need to feed their sheep a proper winter ration to maintain herd productivity and profits.

The sheep industry in Northern New York has grown, according to the U.S. Census of Agriculture, from 209 farms with 5,147 sheep in 1997 to 236 farms with 6,640 sheep in 2002.

Sheep Days organizer Betsy Hodge, a community educator and sheep and goat specialist with Cornell Cooperative Extension of St. Lawrence County, says North Country Shepherd’s meetings held in Canton draw farmers from as far as an hour away.

Cornell Cooperative Extension of St. Lawrence County Dairy and Livestock Educator Ron Kuck says the sheep industry in Jefferson County have steadily gained momentum over the past decade due to its abundant grasslands, the formation of the Jefferson County Sheep Association and the Sheep and Wool Festival sponsored by the association.

For more information and to register for the sheep programs, contact Betsy Hodge or Anita Morrill, Cornell Cooperative Extension of St. Lawrence County, 315-379-9192 or Ron Kuck, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County, 315-788-8450. For more information on raising livestock, visit the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program website at www.nnyagdev.org.  # # #