Webinars Prove Informative

KYLE PARTAIN
Sheep Industry News Editor

Educational conferences can be informative, but the required travel can be expensive and time consuming. For producers who just can’t get away from the farm or ranch, Optimal Ag Consulting’s webinars are just what the doctor ordered.

Funded by ASI’s Let’s Grow Committee, the webinars offer producers an informative session on various topics within the sheep industry that can be accessed online from just about anywhere. While there’s value to watching the presentations live online, the webinars are also archived for future use. In fact, producers can access each of the 19 webinars offered through the Let’s Grow website at: Sheepusa.org/Growourflock_Resources_Educationalwebinars.

Two new webinars for 2017 are already on the schedule, with more to come as the year progresses. The first is set for March 14 and addresses the dairy sheep industry. The second is April 25 and will discuss lamb meat quality.

Attendance for the webinars has grown steadily since they first began in 2012, and archived versions of each webinar continue to be accessed on a regular basis. The numbers rose even higher in late 2016 as 411 registered for a webinar on improving reproductive performance of ewe lambs. Nearly 200 attended the live webinar.

Texas A&M’s Reid Redden, Ph.D., also drew a good crowd for his webinar on best practices for lamb crops in August of last year. Of the 414 who registered, 170 attended the live session.

Web statistics showed 2,207 viewers accessed the five 2016 webinars during the calendar year. Optimal Ag Consulting has established a YouTube channel for viewing previous webinars at: Youtube.com/channel/UC2nxqQJLy9NYQD7DEcpePLg.

The channel includes each of the 19 previous webinars. Those original sessions continue to get new views each year.

“The great thing besides the numbers is that with each webinar we are touching people in nearly every state,” said Jay Parsons, Ph.D., of Optimal Ag Consulting. “We have people from nearly every state register, and actual attendance at the live sessions includes producers from 35 to 40 states for most webinars. That’s a great turnout for the industry.”

Presentations are scheduled to run for 45 minutes, with 20 to 30 minutes allotted for a question and answer session at the end. On average, 50 questions are submitted from webinar attendees.

“The cool piece of this really is the interaction we get between the attendees and the presentation leaders,” Parsons said. “We get a lot of great questions, which are often specific to a certain region of the country.”

Is Sheep Milk Production in Your Future?
Webinar: March 14, 7 p.m. CDT

The U.S. is the leading importer of sheep-milk cheeses in the world with more than half of all world trade in sheep-milk cheeses coming to the United States.
It would seem that there is ample opportunity for the development of a dairy-sheep industry in the United States for the production of domestic cheeses to compete with this large influx of imported sheep-milk cheeses. However, nothing is ever as simple as it looks. This webinar will discuss the things that are necessary to produce sheep milk efficiently (breeds, selection, nutrition, management) and some of the major constraints to a successful dairy-sheep industry.

Register online for the upcoming webinar at: attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/2962937926909717505.

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