Newsletter of ATTRA - National Sustainable Agricultural Information Service: A project of the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT). This issue of ATTRAnews is available online.
Sheep and Goat Production
Sheep and goats are important sources of milk, meat, and fiber for people all over the world. The flocks also improve pasture and remove unwanted vegetation. In years of drought and wildfires, the animals' ability to mow down flammable undergrowth can be crucial. This issue of ATTRAnews highlights some of the ways farmers and ranchers use these productive animals.
In this issue:
This spring in California's North Coast vineyards and orchards, little Babydoll Southdown sheep kept the grass short and protected the soil. If farmers had used tractors to mow, they would have compacted the wet ground, reducing the living organisms in the soil. Sheep also fertilize fields as they graze.
The rise of organic and sustainable farming has led to a new fascination with nature's lawnmowers—in this case Olde English Southdown Miniature Babydoll sheep. Full grown they measure only 24 inches at the shoulder. Because of their small size, they can't reach high enough to damage vineyards and orchards.
Deborah Walton of Canvas Ranch in Sonoma County leases the sheep to several organic and biodynamic vineyards. In 2004 at Fetzer's Bonterra Vineyard, the sheep were part of a study grant from USDA Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education.
Some grape growers leave the sheep in the vineyard until the fruit starts to ripen. Depending on the height of trellising, other growers remove the flock when vines begin to leaf out and then return the sheep in June. In orchards, sheep might stay year-round. For more information see www.canvasranch.com and refer to the vegetation management resources.
Sheep and goats have many uses in today's farms, ranches, and communities. See the resources below and ATTRA's Small Ruminant Resources to learn more.
General Information on Sheep and Goats
From other sources
From other sources
From other sources
From other sources
In addition to the publications listed here, ATTRA offers hundreds more that provide general information and specific details about all aspects of sustainable and organic agriculture. The publications are available to download for free from ATTRA's Web site, www.attra.ncat.org. Or call 1-800-346-9140 to order a free paper copy.
* All sheep and goat production illustrations in this issue of the ATTRAnews are by Robert Armstrong.
Control of internal parasites, especially of Haemonchus contortus (barber pole worm, stomach worm), is a primary concern for the majority of sheep and goat producers. The parasites have become more difficult to manage because they are becoming resistant to deworming medications. A severe infection of barber pole worm causes anemia, bottle jaw, and, if not treated, death of infected sheep and goats.
Mature parasites breed inside the host and lay eggs that are shed in the feces. Warm, humid conditions encourage the eggs to hatch. The infective larvae migrate 1 to 3 inches up blades of grass.
When a sheep or goat grazes, it may take in parasite larvae along with the pasture grass. Parasite numbers increase over time in warm, wet conditions. Because internal parasites are developing resistance to deworming drugs, it is important to use multiple management practices for control.
Manage Pasture Carefully
Select Resistant Animals
For more information see ATTRA's Managing Internal Parasites in Sheep and Goats; Tools for Managing Internal Parasites in Small Ruminants: Copper Wire Particles; and Tools for Managing Internal Parasites in Small Ruminants: Sericea Lespedeza. Also see the Southern Consortium for Small Ruminant Parasite Control.
Thanks to a grant from the USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program, sheep and goat producers will soon have a wealth of new resources.
An NCAT team is revising ATTRA's Small Ruminant Sustainability Checksheet, Small Ruminant Resources, and the Small Ruminant Resource Manual, which were developed under a previous SARE grant. The new manual will include sections on organic sheep and goat production and on marketing and economics. The group is also writing a new publication about organic livestock production.
The editorial team includes interns Chelsey Ahrens and Ann Bartlett assisting NCAT specialists Linda Coffey and Margo Hale—all based in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and specialist Hannah Lewis from the NCAT offi ce in Des Moines, Iowa.
“We expect this project to have a positive impact in the South,” Coffey said. “Our cooperators in Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and Tennessee will be training educators in the use of these materials. The workshops will feature experienced farmers.”
ATTRAnews is the bi-monthly newsletter of ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service. The newsletter is distributed free throughout the United States to farmers, ranchers, Cooperative Extension agents, educators, and others interested in sustainable agriculture. ATTRA is funded through the USDA Rural Business-Cooperative Service and is a project of the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT), a private, non-profit organization that since 1976 has helped people by championing small-scale, local and sustainable solutions to reduce poverty, promote healthy communities, and protect natural resources.
Teresa Maurer, Project Manager
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