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September 6-8, 2024


Left 'Til The Festival

Producer Education

Unless otherwise noted, all Producer Education sessions take place in

Friday - Saturday - Sunday Building 4



The ASSAF Breed & Ms. J and Co.

Mariana Marques de Almeida, Manager and part-owner, Ms. J. and Co., Juda, WI,
Senior Animal Scientist, Breeding Advisor and Cheese Specialist

Ms. J. & Co. is focused on the development of small ruminant dairy production in the United States, including establishing and improving dairy sheep and goat production, focusing on the production of quality sheep and goat milk and artisan cheese making. It is a source for sheep and goat dairy farmers to obtain genetic material such as semen from established European dairy breeds, focusing on milk production and providing counseling on the establishment of genetic improvement programs. Ms. J. and Co. also fosters the creation of small ruminant dairy farms, providing professional support and comprehensive training for new dairy farmers.

ASSAF is an established sheep milk breed that originated in Israel at the Volcani Research Center in the 1950’s by combining the Awassi and East Fresian breeds. This new breed was then exported to Spain on several occasions between 1977 and the 90’s. In Spain, the ASSAF Spanish Breeders Association (ASSAF.E) implemented a solid and accurate genetic improvement program as the breed grew. This improvement program not only increased the quality of the milk, but also the quantity of milk, making the ASSAF breed the best producing sheep breed in the world. Ms. J. and Co. is a proud representative of the ASSAF.E, bringing outstanding genetics to North America to help increase the quality of dairy farms in both the U.S. and Canada.

FSA Programs for Sheep Producers

Rachel Schindler, Agricultural Program Specialist, Wisconsin Farm Service Agency (FSA)

FSA Implements agricultural policy, administers credit and loan programs and manages conservation, commodity, disaster and farm marketing programs through a national network of offices. In her role as an Agricultural Program Specialist, Rachel oversees Acreage Reporting and Price Support programs, including Market Assistance Loans (MAL) and the Loan Deficiency Program (LDP) and assists with the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and other FSA programs. For wool producers, the wool and mohair marketing assistance loan and LDP program provides eligible producers with two forms of Federal assistance. Eligible producers can either: 1) request a nine-month marketing assistance loan; or 2) agree to forgo the loan and request an LDP.

Commercial Sheep Production: Using Confinement and Accelerated Lambing Systems

Carolyn Ihde, Small Ruminant Outreach Specialist, UW-Madison Extension, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

Carolyn has a Master of Science in Agricultural Education from Iowa State University. Previously a Livestock Educator for the UW-Madison Division of Extension in Crawford and Richland Counties where she worked with small ruminant producers, Extension Educators and specialists, and industry stakeholders. She is now working with the Extension Small Ruminant Program in Wisconsin and will collaborate with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach to build their small ruminant program. When she is not creating educational opportunities, Carolyn can be found tending to her flock of Romeldale CVM and Southdown sheep.

NRCS Programs for Small Ruminant Producers in Wisconsin

Adam Abel, Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) State Grazing Specialist

For over 80 years, NRCS has helped America’s farmers, ranchers, and landowners conserve our nation’s resources through our voluntary programs and science-based solutions. Adam Abel is the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) State Grazing Specialist. Over the past 20 years he has focused on assisting producers through the transition to grazing. Since the age of 8 he has directly observed the benefits of rotational grazing, when his family farm started grazing the dairy herd, and later the beef herd. The economic, livestock, and soil health benefits gained by rotational grazing are quantifiable and real, an important message that he enjoys sharing.

Hall of Breeds Tour for Fiber Folks!

Tour the Hall of Breeds with wool judge, award winning hand spinner and Open Fleece Show Coordinator Holin Kennen! Learn about the types of fibers produced by the sheep exhibited and look at the fleeces right on the backs of the sheep. Learn from a fleece judge about the many different types of fibers, what each is best suited for and insights on working with raw fleece.
10:00 am – Noon, Building 8

Handling Tips for Sheep Producers

Todd Taylor, Research Program Manager – Sheep Unit, UW-Madison Arlington Research Station

Profitable and sustainable sheep production depends heavily on efficient handling of a flock on a day-to-day basis. Todd Taylor is responsible for the management of 250 Registered Polypay, Hampshire and Targhee ewes at the station in addition to the sheep that are used to support research, teaching and outreach within and outside the department. He also provides outreach and advisory activities to sheep producers throughout Wisconsin and the Midwest and is integral to producer education at the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival.
Building 8 (Check website for schedule)

Preparing Your Fleeces for a Show: What a Judge is Looking for While Judging Fleeces

Zane Bone, College Station, TX.

A fourth generation sheep and goat raiser from the Texas Hill Country and expert fleece evaluator, Zane Bone was involved in 4-H and FFA as a youth and judged wool and mohair up until attending college at Texas A&M University where he obtained a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Agronomy. He currently maintains his own Rambouillet flock and Angora goat herds and has judged at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, Mountain State Fair in Asheville, NC, Maryland State Fair and at Jefferson. “Fiber festivals have renewed my hope that exhibition can be about more than a ribbon; it can be about the love of sheep and the acceptance of the diversity sheep can bring. Each breed fascinates me in different ways.” Join him as he discusses selection and preparing fleeces for show.
12:30 pm - Building 7


Commercial Sheep Production: Combining Low-Input Systems & Accelerated Lambing

Carolyn Ihde, Small Ruminant Outreach Specialist, UW-Madison Extension, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

Successful low-input production systems incorporating an accelerated lambing system depend heavily on the efficient use of facilities, labor available, breed selection and control of input costs.

The Leicester Longwools and Their History in England and the United States

Elaine Shirley, Pres. Leicester Longwool Sheep Breeders Association, Williamsburg, VA.

Elaine Shirley grew up on a dairy farm in Maryland and was very active in 4-H including an 8- month IFYE exchange to New Zealand. She worked at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation for Coach and Livestock and was put in charge of the Leicester Longwool flock that came from Tasmania, Australia. She will talk about the history of this extremely important breed from George Washington’s flock to the return of Leicester Longwools in 1990. She is active in the Livestock Conservancy including several terms on the board. She is the president of the Leicester Longwool Sheep Breeders Association. The LLSBA is very pleased to be sponsoring a card grading event at the WSWF. Come see these great historic sheep and a different way of evaluating the animals.
12:00 Noon, Building 7

Tasmanian Agriculture with a Focus on Our Farm and the Leicester Longwools

Brenton Heazelwood, Melton Park, English Leicester Stud, Whitemore, Tasmania

Mr. Heazlewood is a 4th generation English Leicester (Leicester Longwool) breeder in Tasmania, Australia. The Heazlewoods have had an English Leicester stud on their property for the past 153 years (founded 1871). Annually, Mr. Heazlewood ships a team of sheep to the Australian Sheep and Wool Show in Bendigo, Victoria, as well as exhibiting sheep at several Tasmanian shows. Melton Park English Leicester Stud was instrumental in re-establishing the Leicester Longwool in the United States in 1990.

A mixed enterprise operation of 640 acres, the farm consists of a 50 ewe English Leicester Stud, a 50 ewe Border Leicester Stud, and 400 ewe prime lamb operation. Additionally, the farm also produces pasture seeds, ryegrass, clover and chicory as well as hybrid canola seed and green peas under contract to Simplot Australia, which manages recognizable brand names such as Sunkist Tuna and Birdseye frozen vegetables, among many others. Mr. Heazlewood also has a contract seed cleaning business and processes a wide range of pasture and vegetable seeds, some of which are exported worldwide. He is currently Federal President and Tasmanian state Chairman of the Australian Stud Sheep Breeders Association, representing 25 breeds of sheep. In his spare time, he also volunteers at a local heritage agricultural museum with steam as its main focus.
12:30 pm, Building 7

Solar Grazing – Panel

What is Solar Grazing? It's the practice of grazing livestock on solar farms. Sheep are the most common solar grazing animals and are naturally suited to the job of solar grazing. They enjoy the shade of the solar panels on hot days, napping and grazing where humans would struggle to reach. They are resourceful foragers, walking to search for vegetation that might otherwise become a shady nuisance for the solar company. Join panel members as they discuss the opportunities for sheep producers in this fast growing industry.

Bioactive Forages

Heather Smith, Agronomist, Brooklyn, WI

Plants containing compounds with anti -parasitic properties are called bioactive forages or nutraceuticals and contain secondary metabolites that offer beneficial effects on health beyond their nutritional value for animals and with the rise in anthelmintic resistance there is growing interest in using feed to help manage parasite loads. Heather Smith has a degree in Agronomy from UW-Madison, has worked for the USDA-ARS, most recently at the Dairy Forage Research Center, and has a farm near Brooklyn, WI where she raises Icelandic sheep for meat and wool.


Karen Mayhew & Elaine Becker, Woollets, LLC, Argyle, WI

Woollets is a woman-owned company that produces 100% wool pellets sourced from Wisconsin sheep producers for horticultural use in plant pots and gardens. Its mission is to repurpose waste wool into a 100% sustainable, climate conscious, responsible replacement for costly, unsustainable peat and petroleum-based water absorbing beads and chemical soil additives, while removing a product from the waste stream.


Pen of 3 Carcass Competition Evaluation & Roundtable

Supported by the Wisconsin Sheep Breeders Cooperative, the Pen of 3 Commercial Carcass Competition is designed to provide both a live evaluation and definitive carcass data to any producer wishing to improve flock genetics. Join producers, processors and industry representatives for a marketing roundtable on Sunday following the live evaluation.
Live Evaluation 10:00 am, Roundtable to follow – Building 8

Finding Your Niche in the Wool Business

Joan Henry, The Grazing Herd Sheep & Wool Co., Albright, WV

An avid heritage breed preservationist, Joan Henry was instrumental in re-establishing Leicester Longwools in America in the early 1990’s as one of the few satellite farms outside of the Colonial Williamsburg flock where her flock now consists of both white and colored Leicesters. She served on the LLWSBA Board for over 20 years, focusing on breed preservation and educational outreach, is strongly committed to conformation to breed standards, and is excited to be an evaluator for this card grading event. During the pandemic, Ms. Henry was unable to utilize the fiber festival circuit to share her Leicester Longwool wares, so she decided to pivot and open her own retail and educational space at her farm. The Grazing Herd Mercantile was born and offers wool and handcrafted items as well as workshops with topics ranging from wool felting to knitting.
12:00 Noon – Building 7

Cooking With Lamb!

Chef Paul Short, Madison College, Madison, WI

A certified executive chef with the American Culinary Federation emeritus, Chef Short is also certified as an ACE with the ACF and has been with Madison Area Technical College for thirty years. He was awarded teacher of the year in 2009 and was the Program Director for the Culinary Arts Program for 12 years.

He and his colleagues undertook an $11.5m renovation of the culinary program, building a state-of-the-art facility that includes high end technology, additional culinary equipment and features a demonstration kitchen. Chef Short was instrumental in starting the Artisanal Modern Meat Program that not only instructs students on how to cut meat, but also gives them a full circle education, starting on the farm with a pasture to plate class, to going out on mobile butchering excursions, and attending slaughters at UW Madison. Join Chef Short as he and his students demonstrate their culinary skills in a demonstration in cooking with American Lamb!
12:30 pm – Activity Center Stage