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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Booneville, Arkansas » Dale Bumpers Small Farms Research Center » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #276233

Title: Organic and Grass Fed Sheep and Goat Production in the Southeastern U.S.

item Burke, Joan

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/15/2011
Publication Date: 1/10/2012
Citation: Burke, J.M. 2012. Organic and grass fed sheep and goat production in the Southeastern U.S. [abstact]. Southern Sustainable Agricultural Workers Group Conference, January 18-21, 2012, Little Rock, AR. Available:

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Demand for sheep and goat products in the U.S. is high and includes locally produced, grass fed and certified organic meat products. Sheep and goats can be incorporated in small farm systems taking advantage of brush forages, browse and challenging landscapes. Challenges that face small ruminant production systems include sustainable forage systems, providing products year round, and control of internal parasites. Tall fescue and bermudagrass dominate pasture systems, but lack protein and energy to meet the demands of late pregnancy, lactation, and growth of offspring. Alternative forages have been used at the research station, including sericea lespedeza, vetch, clovers, soybean, cowpea, and sunn hemp. Body weight gains and effects on internal parasite control in lambs and kids, and advantages and disadvantages of forage systems will be presented. Sheep and goats are seasonal breeders giving birth in the spring. Data will be presented on Katahdin lamb production using a fall compared with early spring lambing system. A fall lambing system will provide lamb products outside the traditional spring lambing system and may be extended to goats. Finally, data will be presented on integrated parasite control in sheep and goats examining the use of different forage systems, condensed tannin rich forage products, copper oxide wire particles, and selected genetics to minimize the use of chemical dewormers. A systems approach using a combination of warm and cool season grasses, legumes, and browse is needed for organic and grass fed production for sustainable lamb and kid production and control of internal parasites. Research results will tie these concepts together. Research was supported by USDA NIFA OREI grant 2010-51300-21641 and SARE R&E grant LS08-204.