The 2016 Howard Wyman Sheep Industry Leadership School was held July 10 to 14 in Columbus. The program moves around the country and shepherds from around the nation flocked to Ohio for the event this year.
This year’s schedule included the popular Ohio State University Lamb 509 program plus an Ohio sheep industry tour through parts of northeast Ohio. A class of nearly 30 students was selected by the National Lamb Feeders Association to take part in this unique combination of presentations, tours, and hands-on activities to increase understanding of meat quality and marketing and enable participants to improve the profitability and competitiveness of lamb.
Tour stops included trips to Stitzlein Club Lambs, the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, Mt. Hope Auction, the farm of Amish shepherd Leroy Kuhns, and Don Hawk’s confined lamb feedlot in Knox County.
“It was a great learning experience. It was like-minded folks trying to learn from each other. The Ohio State University is a highly regarded institute and the professors have been amazing,” said Coulter Payne, from Texas. “I have never been to Amish country. That was a real eye opener for me. I am always looking for different animal handling and behavior type of information and seeing all of these different facilities and operations and talking with all of these folks about what works for them and doesn’t work, I learned a number of things I can hopefully take back and use in our operation in Texas.”
The broad diversity of lamb operations from around the country was a common theme of the event.
“The lamb industry is different all across the U.S. I didn’t expect it to be this different. We don’t have the niche markets you do here. I didn’t even realize those niches existed,” said Cora Wahl from Oregon. “It has been a great three days. The highlight would definitely be the carcass processing and evaluation. And Ohio is more beautiful than people have said.”
Henry Zerby, Lydia Garcia, and Roger High from OSU were the co-coordinators of the program. Many other Ohio State University faculty, staff and students were also involved with an extensive background in all phases of lamb production, meat science and marketing. The school also offered many opportunities for networking and sharing information with a wide variety of producers from all parts of the country.