I’ve learned a lot about sheep the past few days. Last week, I attended three different sheep events.

First, it was the pasture grazing tour July 12 in Charm. OSU Extension Educator Rory Lewandowski led a four-stop tour that featured different Amish farms in southeastern Holmes County. We saw what a beginning pasture looked like, and some pastures that have been grazed for 20-plus years. It was amazing to see the difference, and how much better the pastures got as the sheepkeeper became more experienced.

A lot of good information was shared about weed control and how to maximize the growth of beneficial grasses — the kinds you want. A big point of advice was to divide pastures into small sections, so rotational grazing can be used, and allow the grass the grow back when it’s not being grazed. You can read more about that day here. I apologize — I was only on the morning part of the tour — but it was time well spent. I heard from a half-dozen participants who said the same.

Educational event

Saturday was the big Ohio Sheep Day at OARDC’s Wooster Sheep Research Unit. I didn’t get the exact attendance, but it looked like a couple hundred or so and the weather was beautiful — no rain and lots of sun.

Francis Fluharty, an animal sciences professor at the OARDC, delivered the keynote address, dispelling a dozen popular myths about sheep production. You can read about those here.

And in the late morning and afternoon, workshop speakers covered everything from better lambing to good record keeping, and the basics of how to handle and care for lambs. There was something for everyone and I have to admit, I spent most of my time at the beginner’s sessions, because those were the ones I understood the most!

I half-jokingly told one of the participants that the workshops were great for people who raise sheep, but very difficult to turn into a newspaper article. But that is not the fault of the speakers. Instead it’s the reality of good information. Some of it is just plain technical and that’s the kind of information the producers need.

Wednesday morning was my third and final sheep story: An interview with the Banbury sisters of Danville. If that name sounds familiar, it should. Between Jamie 26, and her twin sisters, Madison and Taylor, the three have managed to win grand or reserve grand champion at the state fair the past decade. That’s an amazing feat and we’ll have more about their winning ways in next week’s fair tab.

If you want to see them sooner, as well as the many other fine sheep showmen in Ohio, attend the junior fair sheep shows at the Ohio State Fair, July 23-24 at the Ohio Expo Center in Columbus.

Chris Kick lives in Wooster, Ohio. An American FFA Degree recipient, he holds a bachelor’s in creative writing from Ashland University. He spends his free time on his grandparents’ farms in Wayne and Holmes counties.
Chris Kick
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