Thursday, June 11, 2009

OFGC Grazing Sheep Tour 2009

We invite you to join us for the Sheep Grazing tour on July 10, 2009 in Noble County. For the past two years, Ohio Forage and Grasslands Council have sponsored a pre-Sheep Day tour with Small Farm Institute, OSU Extension, OSU Sheep and Forage Teams, NRCS and Ohio Sheep Improvement Association. The cost for the day tour will be $30.00 for OFGC members and $35.00 for non members. It includes the bus, lunch and other refreshments. Reservations are needed by July 2, 2009. Send your check and reservations to Ohio Forage and Grasslands Council, P.O. Box 488, Coshocton, OH 43812. You can download a registration form off website. If you have questions, please call 740.545.6349 or email

The tour starts at Caldwell Elementary school by boarding the bus at 9:00 a.m. The elementary school’s address is 44350 Fairground Rd., Caldwell, Ohio. Parking will be available at the school. The tour is all day. The hosts for our tour are Chuck and Lisa Rodenfels, Shawn and Kim Ray, and Wayne Shriver Family. The following is a description of each farm:

Somerhill Farm- This farm is owned and operated by Chuck and Lisa Rodenfels. The Rodenfels have been shepherds for more than 20 years. One of the interesting sights on this tour will be a rare breed of sheep, the Bluefaced Leicester. The Rodenfels were one of the first people in the US to raise this breed of sheep. While still quite rare here, the BFL is the maternal sire of the “mule”, the backbone of the British commercial sheep industry. Over the years, the Rodenfels have used semen from several imported sires, and have had laparoscopic artificial insemination performed at their farm. Besides the BFLs, there is also a flock of Katahdins, a breed of hairsheep. These sheep are pasture lambed in May. Both breeds of sheep are rotationally grazed on a year round basis using electric netting. The Rodenfels direct market their wool products by a website, internet sales, as well at local fiber events. They have also sold lamb meat at a farm market

The Ray Family Farm – Shawn and Kim, along with their children Etta, William, and Hannah; and his parents Gene and Carole, raise sheep and goats on two farms in Noble County totaling 179 acres. The sheep flock consists of ~100 Dorset cross commercial ewes and their lambs. The goat herd includes ~30 Boer/Spanish cross commercial does and their kids. The goats are barn lambed in March and then rotationally grazed until weaning and direct sale in late fall, timed for ethnic holiday. The sheep are pasture lambed April 20th through ~May 20th; jugged, then rotationally grazed and never seeing feed after the jug. Lambs are usually weaned mid to late July and continue to be rotationally grazed. Ideally like to begin grazing turnips in late September and begin marketing lambs directly off of turnips from late October through mid December. (Drought last two falls have changed that approach). The Ray’s have participated in some USDA programs and have done several practices including subdivision fencing, spring development, controlled stream crossings, stream exclusion fencing, woodland exclusion fencing, extensive waterline, automatic waterers and/or frost-free hydrants, heavy use feeding pads and farm lane construction.

Shriver Farms – The farm is diversified livestock and forage operation. The farm combines commercial cattle enterprises and commercial sheep on a large scale. The farming operations are spread over several areas with the commercial ewe operation near the home farm in Buffalo and the majority of cattle located near Summerfield. The primary forage utilized for grazing is fescue. Reclaimed strip-mine ground represents the all of the pasture utilized at the Summerfield operation. Various sections of the farms have utilized EQIP funds to develop water systems, fencing and stream crossings.