Make room for ruminant conference

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Goat and sheep conference to be held in Hardin County

By John Friedlein

Hardin County — one of Kentucky’s top goat producers — will host a statewide Small Ruminant Grazing Conference next week.
University of Kentucky College of Agriculture and several other farm organizations are sponsoring the Jan. 15 event at the Hardin County Cooperative Extension Service.
On tap are a variety of sessions for all levels of experience, according to UK.
The state’s production of small ruminants is increasing.
One reason is former tobacco farmers are looking for alternate income, Extension agent Doug Shepherd said. Also, there are more part-time farmers with smaller acreages — goats need less land than cattle. And they’re easier to handle, which is a reason 4-H youths find them popular. Another factor is that immigrants from places such as Mexico and the Middle East eat goat meat. Shepherd expects a solid turnout.
David Ditsch, director of the UK Robinson Center for Appalachian Resource Sustainability, said in the release: “We’ve got something for anyone who is interested in raising small ruminants. We’re going to present science-based research in ways that producers can understand and apply in their own operations.”
Topics of discussion include use of annual forage, problems with diseases and predators, marketing and lambing.
For the event, UK is working with Kentucky State University, the Kentucky Agricultural Development Fund, and goat and sheep groups.
The benefits of holding the conference in Elizabethtown include its central location and that Hardin County ranks second in state goat production, Shepherd said. The area has a decent marketing structure, with stockyards in Shepherdsville, for instance.
Almost all local goat production is of Boer goats, which are raised for meat. However, years ago a local children’s home kept the animals for dairy.
Participants can register at the local extension service at 201 Peterson Drive in Elizabethtown. The conference costs $20, or $30 to attend an additional training session.
John Friedlein can be reached at (270) 505-1746.