Spooner Sheep Day Ends after 64 Years
September 2, 2016

Aug. 28 was the last Spooner Sheep Day at the University of Wisconsin's Spooner Agricultural Research Station. Overcast weather reflected the pensive moods of many sheep producers, as well as present and former UW staff who gathered for the university's final sheep-industry educational event at Spooner, ending a 64-year tradition.

Wisconsin state-budget cuts have resulted in the university's decision to close the sheep-research program at the Spooner Station. The sheep will be sold Oct. 13. According to Dave Thomas, Ph.D., UW-Madison professor of sheep management and genetics, sheep were introduced to the station in 1936. Sale of the flock in October will close the book on 80 years of sheep research and outreach by the Spooner station.

Thomas has plans to retire in January 2017; it's anticipated his position will not be filled. The UW flock of about 300 ewes at the Arlington Agricultural Research Station at Arlington, Wis., is being maintained for teaching and outreach purposes. The Arlington flock consists primarily of purebreds of four breeds - Polypay, Hampshire, Targhee and Rambouillet.

The Spooner Station will be selling its dairy-sheep flock of about 230 mature ewes and 160 ewe lambs, as well as far lesser numbers of ram lambs and mature rams, in an online auction. The flock has represented the only university-operated sheep dairy in the United States. Information about the sale is available at http://fyi.uwex.edu/wisheepandgoat.

The full story, written by Agri-View, is available at www.agriview.com/news/livestock/spooner-sheep-day-ends-after-years/article_bfb87406-5c30-5daa-9697-01a9cea6414e.html. This is the first part of a two-part series. Producer groups respond to the final chapter of sheep at the Spooner Station and look to the future of Wisconsin's sheep industry in the second part of the story.