"Finding the Profit in Your Flock" is the theme of the 2016 Indianhead Sheep Breeders Association annual Shepherds' Clinic.
The 2016 Shepherds' Clinic will be held Saturday, February 6th at the newly remodeled conference center of the Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College in Rice Lake, Wisconsin. We are privileged to have Burton Pfliger, President of the American Sheep Industry as the Keynote Speaker at the 2016 ISBA Shepherds' Clinic. Mr. Pfliger brings a "big picture" understanding of the sheep industry in the United States to the Shepherds" Clinic. He will provide an up to date 'Road Map' where the sheep industry in the United States is heading and what opportunities and challenges our industry is facing.
Burton Pfliger is a third-generation sheep rancher who was born into the business. He earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Animal Science from North Dakota State University in 1985. Currently, Pfliger and his wife Pattie run approximately 400 ewes, which make up a purebred Hampshire flock, a purebred Suffolk flock and a flock of Rambouillet/Dorset cross commercial ewes. The Hampshire and Suffolk flocks are used to produce range and terminal sires. Pfliger leads the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) which is a federation of 46 state sheep associations representing sheep producers nationwide with a common goal to promote the well-being and profitability of the U.S. sheep industry. ASI works to represent the interests of the producer. A team of volunteer producer leaders directs the actions of the association through their involvement on the executive board, the board of directors and councils and committees
The ISBA Shepherds' Clinic has become one of the largest and most prominent winter-time sheep educational events in the Midwest. The 2016 Shepherds' Clinic will feature an outstanding Youth Clinic, in addition to the educational sessions for both early-career and experienced shepherds. The topics for experienced shepherds will include dealing with internal parasite resistance, growing high-quality forages for sheep, out of season breeding, predator control, growing your sheep business and health management obstacles for profitable sheep production. Early-career shepherds will learn about basic health practices in sheep production, forage production basics, and what is the sheep meat industry looking for from lamb growers.
Among other interesting presenters at the 2016 Shepherds' Clinic will be Alan Culham, Project Coordinator with ASI’s "Grow Our Flock" program. The mission of the "Grow Our Flock" program is to support, promote and ensure the U.S. sheep industry's future through the development of innovative and sustainable initiatives that increase the productivity, profitability and growth of the American sheep industry. As project coordinator of this program, Culham is responsible for coordinating with sheep producers and feeders to identify local and regional groups of commercial growers to enhance the production and marketing of wool and lamb. Before joining ASI's "Grow Our Flock" program, Culham had been with Michigan State University in the department of animal science and manager of their research center. Through this MSU program, he developed performance Suffolk and Dorset sheep flocks.
Cindy Wolf, DVM assistant professor of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Minnesota will be another featured presenter at the 2016 Shepherds' Clinic . At the U of M Dr. Wolf specializes in Small Ruminant Medicine and has become a strong advocate in the sheep and goat community. Dr. Wolf and her husband Kelley O’Neill own and operate a commercial sheep farm near Rushford, MN. They utilize cattle and sheep to graze on the hills and in the valleys of their farm. Lambing is in May and June out on pasture. Their lamb is either direct marketed to the customer, sold at the Winona Farmers Market or sold to Dakota Lamb Growers Co-op. Wolf and O'Neil also operate the Sheep Improvement Company well known for their Sire Max rams.
Deb Jones, owner of The Fiber Garden will lead a hands on wool craft activity. Deb is an enthusiastic spinner, dyer, weaver, teacher and travel consultant. In addition to teaching at and managing the Fiber Garden, Deb also teaches at fiber events throughout the region, including Sievers School of Fiber Arts and the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival.
Dan Undersander University of Wisconsin forage specialist will address forage production for sheep at the Shepherds' Clinic. Dr. Undersander's work focuses on the establishment, production, harvesting and storage of forages in Wisconsin. Dr. Undersander’s research program has four major objectives that include: determining factors affecting alfalfa plant health and survival; best management for harvested forage – big bale wrapping, fermentation of silage; and optimum management practices for intensively grazed pastures considering forage, yield, quality, and effect on wildlife.
Long time Shepherds' Clinic presenter and friend of ISBA, Dave Thomas will return to the 2016 program. Dave is the professor of Sheep Management and Genetics in the Department of Animal Sciences at UW-Madison. He grew up in the small rural community of Mineral Point, Wisconsin where he raised purebred Hampshire sheep. He obtained his B.S. degree in Meat and Animal Science in 1971 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His graduate degrees were obtained from Oklahoma State University in Animal Breeding and Genetics in 1977. Dave's research has involved many areas in sheep breeding and management. In recent years has been recognized internationally for developing a research program in dairy sheep production that serves this growing industry in North America. He has published over 300 articles in both peer-reviewed scientific journals and popular sheep industry magazines.
The Youth Clinic of the Shepherds' Clinic is one of the most popular parts of the program every year. The 2016 Youth Clinic will be lead by Bernie O'Rrouke the Extension Youth Livestock Specialist at the University of Wisconsin Extension along with students from the Animal Science program at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. Bernie provides leadership and support to the livestock project areas (beef, sheep, swine and meat goats) by sharing current research and practices to youth and adults engaged in 4-H, FFA and other youth organizations. Her youth programming efforts are in the areas of agriculture literacy and animal management, with primary leadership for the Meat Animal Quality Assurance program. Bernie was raised on a diversified livestock and crop farm in South Central Minnesota. Her husband, Ron and their 3 boys continue to be involved in each other’s family operations.
This is just a portion of the program planned for the 2016 ISBA Shepherds' Clinic. More details, along with registration information, will be available at the ISBA website and the ISBA newsletter in future months.