Ohio State University will offer more support to the state’s growing sheep and goat industries, with the hiring of a new small ruminant specialist, effective Sept. 15. The new position will replace a long vacant research and extension position.
Ohio State recently hired Brady Campbell, a fourth-generation sheep and swine farmer and program coordinator for Ohio State’s sheep team, as an assistant professor focused on small ruminant management.
The new role involves developing educational programs for sheep and goat farmers, helping with youth sheep and goat programs, and researching small ruminant production and management.
In late 2020, the Ohio Sheep and Wool Program proposed $25,000 in funding to help support a small ruminant specialist position at Ohio State. The university used to have a sheep specialist, but that position has been vacant for years. The new position replaces that one and covers goats, in addition to sheep.
In his new role, Campbell plans to study pasture management, parasites and solar grazing, and work with other extension professionals to help farmers understand and use research from Ohio State on their farms.
Campbell has been involved with his family’s farm, Campbell Farms, in Waterford, Ohio, for as long as he can remember.
“Sheep have always been pretty near and dear to my heart,” he told Farm and Dairy.
Campbell has three degrees from Ohio State’s department of animal sciences, including a bachelor’s with a bioscience specialization, a master’s and, most recently, a 2021 doctorate in animal sciences. He served as the program coordinator for the Ohio State sheep team, beginning in 2016.
During his undergraduate years, Campbell had plans to become a large animal veterinarian. He decided his senior year that wasn’t the path he wanted to take, but he still wanted to work with farmers and their livestock. That’s when he started getting into research.
“It was just a bug that bit me,” Campbell said. “Knowing the mechanics … and the reasons why things come to be was really interesting to me.”
He also enjoyed working with Ohio State’s sheep team to break down research, so farmers can understand and apply it.
This new role will be about 20% research and 80% extension work.
Roger High, executive director for the Ohio Sheep and Wool Program, said Campbell’s experience with the industry in Ohio will help him in the new role.
“We’re very pleased … that we were able to get that position filled,” High said. “It’s nice to be able to have somebody in that position that can help the industry.”
While earning his master’s and doctorate degrees, Campbell studied grazing management and parasitology, focusing on how forage and animal management affect animal health and growth, and how parasites affect livestock on pasture.
He plans to continue researching those things, but also wants to study solar grazing.
“It’s going to be huge in the next couple of years,” Campbell said.
Ohio has about 66,000 acres set to go into solar energy projects, Campbell said. Some of those projects will take land away from conventional crop production, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that land can’t be used for farming at all. Grazing livestock, like sheep, under and around solar panels could allow farmers to keep farming in a sustainable way, while also using land for solar projects.
On the extension side of his new job, Campbell wants to emphasize the importance of collecting data for farmers. Because many livestock farmers have off farm jobs, it’s easy for them to get caught up in other work and put record keeping on the back burner.
But even just tracking the number of lambs or kids born per ewe or doe, birthing weights and weaning weights can help farmers make a lot of management decisions to improve efficiency, Campbell said.
“I think getting back to the basics is one of the first and biggest goals that I’d like to achieve,” Campbell said.
Rebecca Miller, editor-in-chief of Farm and Dairy, is on the board of directors for the Ohio Sheep and Wool Program.
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