Virginia’s sheep population of over 89,000 exists in all regions of the state. The state’s abundant forage resources, moderate climate, and close proximity to markets make Virginia ideally suited for a vibrant, diverse sheep industry. Multiple management and production systems are employed in the state, with the majority of lambs born in the spring and raised in a forage-based environment. Commercial, spring-lambing flocks comprise the majority of the industry which is supported by a strong seedstock industry. Growing segments include sheep raised for youth 4-H projects as well as hair sheep.
Extension sheep programs focus on assisting producers and the industry become more profitable and sustainable. Educational programs are delivered on a local and statewide basis to transfer new knowledge and technology to the farm. Additional programs assist producers in adding value to their sheep enterprise.
The annual Virginia Shepherd’s Symposium will be hosted virtually over Zoom on January 11-12, 2023 from 7-9 pm each evening.
- Proceedings and recordings from previous years can be accessed via the Sheperd's Symposium page.
- Small Ruminant Winter Webinar
- Medication Use in Small Ruminants: Adhering to Drug Labels for Meat and Milk - Dan Hadacek, DVM, VDACS
- 6:15 PM – Scrapie Tags: Where are we know?- Dr. Dan Hadacek, DVM, VDACS
- 6:30 PM – Scrapie Genotyping Program- Dr. Sarah Firebaugh, DVM, USDA-APHIS
- 7:00 PM – Forage Nutrition for Sheep and Goats- Dr. Andrew Weaver, NCSU
- Sheep & Goat Marketing- Matt Sponaugle, VDACS
Animal Breeding & Genetics
This annual program provides education on current topics and research of interest to sheep producers. The one-day event includes a blend of lecture and demonstration sessions. The Symposium is typically held in early January, and location is rotated across the state.
Sheep 101 Workshop
This educational program is designed for new and beginning shepherds to provide hands-on experience and training in basic sheep production techniques. Topic areas include nutrition, health, genetics, reproduction, marketing, and management. Instruction includes opportunity for participants to work with sheep to learn necessary skills and attain experience. The Workshop will be held as a two-day event in October, as well as, annually in conjunction with the Shepherd’s Symposium.
Virginia Ram Test
The Virginia Ram Test has existed at the Shenandoah Valley AREC since 1975. Ram lambs, consigned by the state’s producers, are developed and managed in a central location to provide objective information on economically important traits such as growth and carcass performance. The program concludes with an annual sale of rams the fourth Saturday in August.
Southwest AREC Ram Test
The Virginia Tech Southwest AREC Ram Test began in 2012 and consists primarily of Katahdin sheep breeders from across the United States. This program is unique and created with much discussion and interest across the industry. Through the forage-based ram performance test, designed specifically to quantify growth and parasite resistance in rams.
The program concludes with an annual field day and sale of rams the fourth Friday in September.
- Dr. Dave Notter's Research
- 2006 Sheep Production Conference (PDF | 472KB)
- Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine Virginia Tech
- Shenandoah Valley Agricultural Research and Extension Center
- Shepherd's Symposium Proceedings
- Southwest Virginia Agricultural Research and Extension Center