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Spooner Sheep Day Celbrates 50th Year

Spooner Sheep Day, the longest-running field day among the University of Wisconsin-Madison”s several agricultural field days, will hold its 50th event Saturday, August 10 at the Spooner Agricultural Research Station . The first Spooner Sheep Day was held in 1953, and it has been an annual event for sheep producers ever since.

The 2002 program will take a look back at highlights of the sheep research program at Spooner and the implications of that research for sheep production today.

Rudy Erickson, retired farm manager at UW-River Falls and former Spooner resident and student worker at the station, will give the early history of the Spooner station and the sheep program, with specific remarks on the role of the station in the introduction of the Targhee breed of sheep to Wisconsin. Art Pope, professor emeritus of animal sciences at the UW-Madison and long-time sheep scientist, will review the research highlights from the station prior to the 1980s. Tom Cadwallader, livestock agent in Lincoln, Langlade and Marathon Counties and former sheep researcher at the Spooner station, will discuss his work in the 1980s aimed at reducing labor inputs in the sheep operation including pasture lambing. The use of breeds with exceptionally high lambing rates, which was the focus of research for about 10 years in the 1980s and 1990s, will be reviewed by Yves Berger, current superintendent of the Spooner station.

Dave Thomas, a UW-Madison animal scientist, will discuss current research activities centered on dairy sheep production. Dick Vatthauer, emeritus professor of UW Extension and animal sciences at the UW-Madison, will complete the formal program by leading a general discussion where attendees will be encouraged to discuss Spooner sheep activities that have been important to them over the years.

Todd Taylor, shepherd at the Arlington Ag Research Station, will conduct a youth sheep program in the morning concurrent with the adult program. The sheep facilities will be open for viewing in mid-afternoon, and visitors can watch the dairy flock being milked.

Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. at the Spooner station headquarters, and the program will begin at 9 a.m. in the auditorium. Tickets for the lamb barbecue lunch can be purchased at the time of registration. Participation in the educational sessions is free. The formal program will end at about 2:30 p.m. with an open house at the sheep barn and sheep milking following.

The Spooner Agricultural Research Station is located on Wis. Highway 70 just east of Spooner and just west of U.S. Highway 53. For further information, contact Lorraine Toman at the Spooner station, (715) 635-3735.