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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Dubois, Idaho » Range Sheep Production Efficiency Research » Research » Research Project #443597

Research Project: Advancing Veterinary Care, Research and Education in Small-Ruminant Obstetrics and Health

Location: Range Sheep Production Efficiency Research

Project Number: 2056-31610-007-010-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Mar 1, 2023
End Date: Feb 28, 2028

Develop and implement a collaborative program, involving veterinary professionals, veterinarian students, and ARS scientists, to: 1) develop science-based solutions to mitigate health/disease risks in small ruminant production systems, 2) identify health/disease factors most impacting small ruminant production efficiency, and 3) train the next generation of veterinarians in small-ruminant obstetrics veterinary care and research.

The USDA, ARS location near Dubois, ID (ARS-Dubois) hosts meaningful and impactful research and outreach programs benefiting USDA stakeholders. Stakeholders include students and professionals training, researching and working in areas related to the location’s research programs. One such outreach program is the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station (USSES) Veterinary Externship Program (VEP). It was created over 20 years ago to assist the U.S. sheep industry in solving a problem. Specifically, too few veterinarians were providing veterinary care services for small ruminant producers. In light of this, ARS-Dubois initially developed the USSES VEP with a mission to provide in-the-system sheep veterinary obstetrics care externship opportunities to complement university veterinary programs. The overall goal was to augment the field of veterinarians able and willing to serve small ruminant producers, specifically those in remote and underserved areas/communities with limited or no practical access to veterinary services. Since inception of the USSES VEP, the number of U.S. sheep producers increased 26%, further exacerbating the issue of too few small-ruminant veterinarians. Furthermore, there is an urgent and growing demand for veterinarian researchers specializing in small ruminant diseases and health with specific emphasis on protecting the nation’s food supply. To increase program effectiveness, ARS-Dubois seeks to expand the VEP through an agreement with a leading university veterinary institution. This agreement would broaden the USSES VEP scope to include licensed veterinary faculty/staff. Specifically, veterinary faculty/staff would visit ARS-Dubois during the annual eight-week lambing season to increase/refresh veterinary skillsets, provide unique training for veterinarian externs in a real-world production and research environment, and work in collaboration with ARS scientists to identify health/disease factors most impacting production efficiency and develop science-based solutions to mitigate health/disease risks in small ruminant systems.