West Virginias sheep farmers have been learning a thing or two about flock management with help from West Virginia Universitys Sheep Management Project.

The sheep industry has declined dramatically over the years in West Virginia, prompting WVU s Davis College of Agriculture, Forestry and Consumer Sciences to develop the West Virginia Sheep Management Project, in cooperation with the WVU Cooperative Extension Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services, the West Virginia Department of Agriculture and the West Virginia State Legislature, which provides funding for the project.

“The initial focus of the project was development and implementation of out-of-season breeding and lambing programs,”said Georgette F. Plaugher, research assistant for the project.”However, we also offer pregnancy testing diagnosis for sheep, parasite management, ram breeding soundness exams, marketing information, educational programs for sheep producers and publication of our quarterly newsletter �€~News Ewe Can Use.’”

The project initially served sheep producers in Preston, Tucker, Randolph, Pocahontas, Pendleton, Grant and Hardy counties in West Virginia �€the counties with the greatest number of sheep in the state. However, the success of the project has grown and provides assistance to sheep farmers throughout the state. The project supports events such as the West Virginia Sheep and Wool Festival, Purebred Sheep Breeders Show and Sale and Make it Yourself with Wool Contest. The projects annual fall workshop was held in Lewisburg this year to give other sheep farmers in different areas of the state the opportunity to attend.

“We routinely visit sheep producers who are involved with the out-of-season breeding program or who want rams tested for breeding soundness and ewes for pregnancy diagnosis. Time and distance are the limiting factors for one-on-one contact in this project, since farms are spread throughout the state, however we make every attempt to provide services for sheep farmers in West Virginia who request assistance and information,”Plaugher said.

The project has comprised a mailing list of more than 1,000 sheep producers. The list is used to distribute information about upcoming workshops and to mail the quarterly newsletter to interested producers in West Virginia and the surrounding area.

“The main goal of this project is to help sheep producers in West Virginia to operate more efficiently and see a greater return on their investment,”Plaugher said.

For more information, contact the project director, Deborah Marsh at 304-358-3660 or Plaugher at 304-358-3661, or visit the West Virginia Sheep Management Project Web site atwww.caf.wvu.edu/avs/sheep