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Wisconsin sheep business with UW-Madison Shepard Todd Taylor


Todd Taylor, ShepherdScreen Shot 2015-02-19 at 3.35.32 PM
Department of Animal Science
Arlington Agricultural Research Station
UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
(608) 846-5858

Todd Taylor talks with Sevie Kenyon about the research and extension work with the sheep at the Arlington Agricultural Research Station and gives insight into the Wisconsin Sheep Business.

3:06 Total Time

0:16 – Sheep at the Arlington Agricultural Research Station
0:37 – Teaching, extension and research
1:02 – Sheep in Wisconsin
1:26 – UW-Madison sheep on the road
2:03 – Sheep great second business
2:27 – Full slate of sheep events

To hear the interview live – please click on the following link:  

Otherwise read the interview transcript below:


Sevie Kenyon: Lambing season at the Arlington Agricultural Research Station. We are visiting today with Todd Taylor, Shepherd Arlington Agricultural Research Station University of Wisconsin Madison in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, and I’m Sevie Kenyon.

Todd, tell us a little bit about the flock here at the Arlington Station.

Todd Taylor: The flock here at the station consists of roughly 300 ewes. We lamb twice a year, once in the fall for the month of September and October and again the first of January to the first of April. We run four registered breeds, we’ve got Hampshire’s, Polypay’s, Rambouillet’s, and Targhee’s geared towards wool and meat production.

Sevie Kenyon: Well Todd, what do you do with the sheep here on the station?

Todd Taylor: We are a teaching research and extension facility. While we do some research, we’re geared a lot towards teaching and extension work. We furnish sheep for numerous classes across the animal science department. Everything from the sheep production class to the animal handling and welfare class, to the meat eval composition class on campus. The vet students come out and use us quite extensively as well.

Sevie Kenyon: Todd, tell us a little bit about the sheep business here in the state of Wisconsin.

Todd Taylor: The neat thing about it is, that it is not a big industry in terms of numbers of sheep, but there are a lot of flocks. They are small flocks, so there are a lot of people involved and a lot of diversity. Everything from people that want to produce lamb and direct market it to a lot of fiber artists that deal with the hand spinning type of sheep.

Sevie Kenyon: Todd you do a fair amount of showing of these sheep, can you describe that enterprise for us?

Todd Taylor: That’s kind of how we get ourselves out and get seen by the public and also kind of use it as a recruiting tool for students to come to the Department of Animal Science in the College of Ag, and in the program. These students see us out showing and exhibiting our sheep and a lot of them are involved in that program as well. We offer some summer internships for students to come in and help with showing, fitting, preparation and actually hauling and exhibiting these sheep. We traditionally go to the national Polypay and Targhee shows and sales every year and also show at the Wisconsin State Fair, and one of the large ram sales at the Midwest Stud Ram Sale in Sedalia, Missouri.

Sevie Kenyon: Todd if people are interested in sheep, what do they actually need to get started?

Todd Taylor: Not a whole lot. I’ve seen over the last few years a lot of older farmers that have been in the dairy business that have gone out and still want to maintain their ag background, have actually converted their dairy facilities into a very workable sheep facility for lambing and for housing lambs, and growing lambs out. A lot of opportunity in the sheep business right now.

Sevie Kenyon: What are some of the events you have here at the station related to sheep?

Todd Taylor: We annually have our Sheep Days program in March and then our big event that culminates kind of our whole program throughout the year is our annual production sale that we have at the end of September. It is a student run sale, we actually give animal science students credit for helping us organize, promote, advertise, prepare the sheep and actually put the sale on that day. And then we put on a shearing school in the fall where we bring in 15-20 students a year to teach them how to properly handle and remove the wool efficiently from sheep.

Sevie Kenyon: We’ve been visiting with Todd Taylor, Shepard at the Arlington Agricultural Research Station University of Wisconsin Madison in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, and I’m Sevie Kenyon.

Photos courtesy of UW-Madison CALS


Virtual toolbox for Sheep & Goat Farmers

small ruminant toolbox usbWith demand for their meat, milk and fiber growing, sheep and goats offer an appealingly solid return on investment, particularly for beginning, small-scale and limited-resource farmers. But there is a lot to learn, so success can be a challenge. “Information is power. You can make a lot of mistakes if you don’t under­stand small ruminants,” says Linda Coffey, a National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) specialist.

Now, farmers and Extension educators have an expansive new resource available to them in the Small Ruminant Toolbox. The toolbox is a collection of practical, proven materials covering a wide variety of topics, including pasture and herd management, marketing, pest management, qual­ity of life and whole-farm sustainability.

Toolbox materials are free to access online or can be purchased on a USB flash drive at Read more »

Updated Shearer List – 12/20/13

Q Fever Antibodies in Sheep and Goats and in Farmers on Sheep and Goat Farms

This article is not intended to alarm sheep and goat producers but instead to make them aware and more knowledgeable about a disease of sheep and goats (Q fever) that can also infect humans. Much of the information in this article comes from an article that appeared in the March 2013 issue of Ontario Sheep News, “Prevalence of Q fever Antibodies in Ontario Sheep and their Farm Families” by Shannon Meadows (pages 14-15).

Facts about Q Fever:

  • Caused by Coxiella Burnetii, a bacterium that infects sheep, goats, cattle and humans
  • Symptoms in sheep include abortion, stillbirth, early lamb mortality
  • Infected animals may not show symptoms of the disease but may shed the organism in birth fluids, products of pregnancy (placenta, etc), milk and feces
  • Bacteria may be aerosolized and spread in dust
  • Infections in people:
    • 60% don’t have signs of disease
    • Common acute symptoms: fever, headaches, muscle pain
    • Uncommon acute symptoms: pneumonia, hepatitis, meningitis
    • Rare symptoms: heart and liver disease, chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Acute Q Fever very responsive to antibiotics
  • Serological tests required for diagnosis (humans, animals)

Read more »

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2 GoatsAs this website develops, it will be updated with current news and events relating to sheep and goats, informational fact sheets and helpful links.  Please visit again to see the updated information.

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