Ohio played host to shepherds from across the Midwest at the 2013 Sheep Grazing Management Tour. About 100 shepherds from Ohio, Pennsylvanian, Virginia, West Virginia, Michigan, Kentucky and Illinois visited four Amish sheep farms in Holmes County during the tour.
Each Amish shepherd was in different stages of adding sheep and rotational grazing to their farm. The vast difference in levels of expertise at implementing rotational grazing on the farms allowed both attendees and the farmer hosts to learn from grazing experts and each other about how to best manage sheep in a rotational grazing environment.
Two buses full of the shepherds and grazing experts travelled to the homes of Raymond Yoder, Dennis Hershberger, Monroe Barkman and Earl Erb to learn about their flocks and rotational grazing methods. At each stop, the farm owners talked about how they graze, lamb, and finish the animals in their flock before grazing resource people answered questions and gave advice.
The grazing resource specialists on hand during the tour were Bob Hendershot of Green Pasture Services, Jeff McCutcheon of OSU Extension Morrow County, Rory Lewandowski of OSU Extension Wayne County, Roger High, the state sheep Extension specialist at OSU and executive director of Ohio Sheep Improvement Association and Ohio Sheep and Wool Program, and Troyce Barnett an NRCS grassland specialist.
In addition to general pasture management, topics such as managing fescue, water sources, fencing and general sheep health topics were discussed. Ohio Sheep Day was held the following day in Wooster on July 13.
“It was another beautiful day at the Ohio Sheep Day. We really tried to concentrate on the sheep research going on at the University,” High said. “We had some alternative grazing programs, strategic weaning and lambing, and animal handling programs. There was a lot of intensive education and attendance was good with 150 or 160 people there. There was also a nice trade show. It was a very well rounded event for the Ohio sheep industry and we had people from several other states as well.”
High is excited to see increasing interest in sheep production in Ohio.
“The bulk of the people were pretty new. There were some veterans there too, but the amazing thing is that the Ohio sheep industry has a number of new people coming into the industry,” he said. “They are small flocks but they are starting to raise sheep.”.