A strategic planning committee was put together by Lincoln University Cooperative Extension early in the year to investigate how we might work together in developing markets for sheep and goats and how we might also form a new generation cooperative.

Value-added Fiber Program

The Value-added Fiber Program is taught statewide but its main focus is a statewide retreat held in March at Carver Farm. The Heart of America Festival in Nevada, southwestern Missouri, the World Sheep Festival held in Bethel, located in northeastern Missouri, the American Royal where urban youth are exposed to and taught about farm animals and adding value to natural fibers, and the Missouri State Fair held in August. We cover all aspects of instruction in adding value to fibers produced from farm animals; wool, mohair, angora, llama and alpaca. Training includes washing wool to carding, spinning, weaving, felting, natural and chemical dyeing and making marketable items.
Workshops on adding value to fibers is taught and all manner of techniques in felting, spinning designer yarns to sell, weaving to produce products to sell, learning to process wool into yarn or roving to sell are some of the things taught each year. Acid and natural dyeing are art forms shared for dyeing yarns that sell well at festivals and other gatherings where people attend in numbers.

Programs are held throughout Missouri and many workshops, conferences and short courses are taught at the Lincoln University Cooperative Extension Carver Farm.

Impact Highlights

On a daily basis, farmers contact Lincoln University Cooperative Extension for information on sheep and goats and for problem solving help in their operations. Toxic plants, feeding problems, coccidia infestation and control, internal parasite control, as well as breeding problems that occur every fall in most operations are some examples of problems solved for farmers. Working with veterinarians in their region is helpful to the producers. The estimated number of farmers seeking information to solve problems are in the neighborhood of 200.

A sheep conference was held in December of 2003 and another will be held in 2004 in November to deliver up to date information on scrapie, marketing, and selected topics by producers and members of the Missouri Sheep Producers to share at the conference to result in more profit to the producers of this state. Information on the animal id that is becoming mandatory all over the nation for all livestock was delivered and discussed in 2003 at the conference.
A booth was chaired by Dr. Helen Swartz at the Missouri state fair in 2003 to deliver information on sheep and goat management to all fairgoers as well as info on the value-added fiber program. We reached 10,000 per day at this event.
At the American Royal, 300,000 youth attended who came in on school busses to learn more about agriculture and in particular about sheep, goats and wool.
Workshops throughout the state were held and those in attendance were given handouts with lectures and 300 sheep and goat farmers attended these meetings. They went home with up-to-date information on the latest research data to help them succeed with their operations.

180 people attended our Fiber Retreat in March of 2004, 500 people attended the Heart of America Festival in June of 2004, 2000 people attended the Bethel World Sheep Festival in September of 2004, and all learned more about how to prepare their fibers to add value to their wool clips from many breeds and specie of farm animals.

Sharing Research-based Sheep, Goat, and Value-added Fiber Information

Dr. Helen Swartz serves on the Johne's disease and chronic wasting disease (CWD) committees for the Missouri Department of Agriculture Veterinary Division so that she can share this information with sheep and goat producers throughout Missouri.

The latest research-based information is shared with sheep and goat producers on all aspects of production and marketing. The sheep and goat strategic planning committee is identifying markets to increase the prices of sheep and goats. The impact of this committee has been to seek funding to conduct a feasibility study and business plan to pursue this in more depth in 2005. Cooperative Extension programs for sheep and goat producers have been delivered by invitation of field staff throughout Missouri. The invitations were from MU field staff or small farm education assistants following requests by new and veteran sheep and goat farmers. The subjects are varied and include management, nutrition, forage production, diseases that are metabolic or contagious, selection, breeding and marketing.
We also work with youth including both 4-H and FFA clubs. Teaching judging and fitting of sheep and goats for show has been in demand by new members of 4-H clubs in Missouri. Sheep and goat programs are to help farmers by holding workshops, conferences, festivals, etc. Throughout the state of Missouri where needed and are held by invitation outside of Missouri and by a committee of volunteers with a vested interested in making money raising sheep and goats or taking their fibers produced from the farm animals and adding value in various ways to sell at the next level or sell a finished product.

For more information contact:
Helen Swartz, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus/State Extension Specialist/Principal Research Investigator
Lincoln University Cooperative Extension

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