Roger High, OSU Ohio State Sheep Extension Specialist
Delaware County will play host to Sheep-O-Rama – a one-day educational event to promote the development of the Sheep Dairy Industry in Ohio. Set for Saturday, October 1, 2011, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Delaware County (OH) Fairgrounds, this event was organized by the Heart of Ohio RC&D and the Ohio Sheep Milk & Cheese Initiative and sponsored in part by Innovative Farmers of Ohio.
The day’s events will focus on the business of sheep milk production including financing, facility and equipment requirements, genetics and grazing. This event should be of interest to those already raising sheep for meat or fiber that want to add value to their herd or for those considering embarking on a new farming venture.
Keynote speaker will be Claire Mikolayunas, Ph.D., Dairy Sheep Specialist from the University of Wisconsin. She is also an advisor to the Wisconsin Dairy Sheep Initiative — a partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture and the Dairy Business Innovation Center which provides technical and business planning support to dairy sheep producers and processors and connects them with viable markets. She has also served as President of the Dairy Sheep Association of North America. Not only can Dr. Mikolayunas answer virtually any sheep-related question, she is well versed in the demands and requirements of establishing a successful sheep dairy.
Also scheduled to speak is Bob Hendershot, USDA/NRCS State Grazing Specialist and 2010 Charles Boyles Master Shepherd Award winner. He is a long-time member of the Ohio Sheep Improvement Association, of which he has served as president, and also currently serves as a representative for the Ohio Sheep and Wool Program. He can speak to many sheep production issues, but will focus mainly on management-intensive grazing and forage-based nutrition.
Other speakers will include Lisa Sippel, she and her husband, Ben, are owners of the first ODA licensed Sheep Dairy in the State of Ohio, who will outline their journey from business idea to working, inspected facility and Jim McGuire, Wichert Insurance, who will identify the risks inherent in a sheep dairy operation and how to effectively manage them using “Risk Management” techniques. Plans are in the works to have sheep dairy and sheep handling equipment on-site so that participants have a first-hand view. Artisan cheese makers from around the state will be on hand to offer samples of sheep cheeses and other sheep dairy products. There will also be a presentation on how to fund your farming venture and a discussion about how dairy by-products, such as whey, can be used as a supplement and improve your bottom line. Morning coffee, breakfast and lunch will be available for a small fee from the Fairgrounds concessionaire.