VSU To Offer Goat/Sheep Program Oct. 21

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  October 06, 2016

Contact: William Gee, Marketing & Communications Dept., 804-524-5005, wgee@vsu.edu

Field Day Focuses on Pastures and Forages To Help VA Small Farmers Meet High Demand For Goat and Sheep Meat 

Pastures and forages will be the focus of Small Ruminant Field Day scheduled on Oct. 21 from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. at Virginia State University’s Randolph Farm, 4415 River Road, Ettrick. Sponsored by Virginia Cooperative Extension and VSU’s Small Farm Outreach Program, the educational event will inform goat and sheep producers about forages to plant and how to best manage and maintain them. Forages are bulky grazing animal foods such as grass or hay. "Forages and pastures are important when considering nutritional requirements but are just as salient to parasite control," said Dr. Dahlia O’Brien, VSU small ruminant extension specialist.

The program is $10 per person, which includes lunch, as well as hands-on hoof-trimming, drenching and vaccination demonstrations. Participants are encouraged to bring weeds from their property to have them identified by an on-site pasture weed specialist. “By identifying weeds, ranchers can employ safe, targeted methods of reducing a pasture’s weed load to maximize the nutrient-dense forage their animals need,” said O’Brien.

There is large and an unfilled demand for goat and sheep meat in the major cities of the United States, including metropolitan areas in Virginia. It is a staple of many ethnic groups, with about 60 to 70 percent of the world regularly eating goat meat. According to North Carolina State University, since 1991, the United States is a net importer of goat meat. In 2014, 43,188 million pounds of goat meat were imported for a total value of $94.7 million, compared to 2,994 million pounds in 1990 for a total value of $1.9 million. As populations from the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean increase, so does the demand for these meats, with goats and sheep of all ages often fetching premium prices.  Because goats and sheep can be raised on relatively small amounts of land, this lends an opportunity for many of Virginia’s smaller farmers to fill this niche. Virginia Cooperative Extension at VSU focuses on providing Extension assistance to the Commonwealth’s small, historically underserved and limited resource farmers and ranchers.

This year’s Small Ruminant Field Day is part of VSU’s interdisciplinary pilot program called “Goatober.” The program aims to grow Virginia’s goat industry through the month of October by helping goat farmers tackle their two major business obstacles: consumers’ lack of knowledge on how to find local goat farmers and their products, as well as their unfamiliarity with how to prepare goat meat. This initiative aims to introduce goat meat to Virginia consumers by raising awareness on how to prepare tasty goat dishes, as well as, where to find local producers.

To register for this event, visit http://www.ext.vsu.edu/calendar, click on the event and then click on the registration link, or contact Mollie Klein at (804) 524-6960 or email mklein@vsu.edu.

If you need further information or are a person with a disability and desire any assistive devices, services or other accommodations to participate in this activity, please contact Mollie Klein at mklein@vsu.edu or call (804) 524-6960 / (800) 828-1120 during business hours of 8 am. and 5 p.m. to discuss accommodations no later than five days prior to the event.

Extension is a joint program of Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and state and local governments. Virginia Cooperative Extension programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, veteran status, or any other basis protected by law. An equal opportunity/ affirmative action employer. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Interim Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.

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