Ohio sheep producers attend the Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium

Master Shepherd Award Winner
Cynthia Koonce, of Columbiana County, received the Charles Boyles Ohio Master Shepherd Award at the Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium Dec. 12 for her contributions to the sheep industry and her dedication to her own flock. She was joined by Ohio Lamb and Wool Queen Abby Pozderack, Ohio Sheep Improvement Association Executive Director Roger High and OSIA President Shawn Ray. (Catie Noyes photos)

WOOSTER, Ohio — Sheep producers, from beginners to master flock managers, came together to hear from industry professionals on best management practices, animal nutrition and how to transition the farm to the next generation during the Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium, Dec. 12 at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center in Wooster.


Probably one of the most anticipated events of the day was honoring those who have made an impact in the industry and the youth who will go into various roles to enhance the sheep industry.

Tyler Meyer of Logan County received a $1,000 scholarship to attend Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana. Four $500 scholarships were presented to Ariel Watson of Guernsey County, William Ray of Noble County, Sarah Hunker of Huron County, and Dakota Dunlap of Union County.

Katy Tuggle of Lorain County won the State FFA Sheep Proficiency award and Jacob Wenner of Delaware County was named the 2015 State 4-H Sheep Achievement Award Winner

The Environmental Stewardship Award went to Tom and Dawn Wallace of T.H. Wallace Farms in Miami County. Some of their environmental practices include pasture management, livestock heavy use pads and stream control.

Distinguished Service awards were presented to Daryl Clark, Zanesville, who served on the Ohio Sheep Improvement Association board of trustees for 12 years as well as the Ohio Sheep and Wool Program for nine years.  Tiffany McComas, Sunbury, also received the award for her time spent developing and designing logos for OSIA, OSWP and OSIA LEAD Council.

The Friend of the Ohio Sheep Industry was awarded to Mary Roediger, Ohio Make It With Wool coordinator and recently selected to serve as the national coordinator.

The top honor of the afternoon, the Charles Boyles Ohio Master Shepherd award, went to Cynthia Koonce of Blue Heron Farm in Columbiana County. Koonce, who raises 350 ewes on her farm, has served on the OSIA board of trustees for 20 years and has hosted the Ohio Sheep Day.


Industry update

The new Veterinary Feed Directive and Trans Pacific Partnership agreement were top issues highlighted by American Sheep Industry Association President Burton Pfliger. The Veterinary Feed Directive issued by the FDA, Pfliger said, calls for veterinary supervision of animal feeds containing medication fed to livestock.

According to the FDA website, once implemented, it will be illegal to use these antibiotics for production purposes, and animal producers will need to obtain authorization from a licensed veterinarian to use them for prevention, control or treatment of a specifically identified disease. Pfliger said the rule is expected to be fully implemented in January 2017.

Zoetis, one of the largest animal pharmaceutical companies, asked the American Sheep Industry Association to put together a working group, he added. The goal is to provide a label therapeutic drug for the respiratory treatment in sheep.

“Hopefully we can extend this partnership, expanding the drug approval process for sheep.”

“We really need to watch the Veterinary Feed Directive,” added High, and encouraged producers to attend any meetings addressing this issue.

Pfliger also addressed the recent Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement and its impact on the sheep industry.  “Opening export markets has been a top priority of this industry since I have been around,” he said.

Current trade agreements with Canada, Mexico and New Zealand have held steady for the industry, but “the addition of Taiwan and Japan would be nice as we lost those in 2003 with the ‘cow that stole Christmas’ in the BSE incident,” Pfliger added.

USDA’s purchasing of excess lamb (part of section 32 of the Agriculture Act of 1935) has been a “somewhat” controversial topic, said Pfliger. The USDA made $10 million available for the purchase of excess lambs and, to date, the USDA has purchased 1.4 million pounds of lamb for nearly $7.5 million. “One thing I will mention about section 32, is that it is the only tool in the ASI toolbox that has the ability to impact price at the farm and ranch gate,” he said.


Following Pfliger’s address, Ohio State researchers Dr. Francis Fluharty and Dr. Monique Paris-Garcia of the animal sciences department at OSU, gave an update on current and upcoming research initiatives involving the sheep industry.

“We have done a lot of improvements to (research) facilities,” said Fluharty. Those improvements will help in an ongoing study on controlling parasites in sheep, specifically haemonchus contortus — a common type of roundworm.

Other studies included the effects of weaning lambs on performance and growth led by Garcia and her research students. They concluded lambs that stay longer with their mother experience less stress in the weaning process and perform better than those weaned at an early age.

Breakout sessions

During the morning and afternoon, producers had the opportunity to hear from industry professionals on managing a productive and profitable sheep operation, sheep nutrition and transitioning to the next generation on the farm.

One of the keys to having a profitable sheep enterprise, is to identify available resources and design a market structure that best fits what those resources can accommodate, explained Dr. Bob Leder, of United Veterinary Service in Bear Creek, Wisconsin, during a session on productivity and profitability. “Matching your system to natural resources is more important than matching productivity to profitability,” said Leder.


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Catie Noyes lives in Ashland County and earned a bachelor's degree in agriculture communications from The Ohio State University. She enjoys photography, softball and sharing stories about agriculture. Formerly a reporter for the Farm and Dairy, Catie is now pursuing her master's degree in education.



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