The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) has compiled manuals, powerpoint presentations, videos and more into a “Toolbox” for small ruminant producers and educators. It’s 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.
This re-issue of the toolbox that was created by Linda Coffey of NCAT and a team of goat and sheep specialists now includes a 60-page Small Ruminant Sustainability Checksheet to help farmers adapt their practice to the changing realities of the marketplace and their farm. It is the centerpiece of the toolbox, and was a critical missing piece before the project started, according to Coffey. “Although the whole-farm planning is important for success, the topic is not typically covered in sheep and goat production workshops.”
Part of the Power Point presentations includes the Tennessee Master Meat Goat Producer Program, which was launched four years ago by Tennessee State University Small Ruminant Extension specialist An Peischel, to aid producers in improving production management skills and increase profitability. “Getting the kind of information out to Extension agents, students and farmers that is reliable and of good quality is extremely important,” said Peischel, adding “It’s easy to do a search on the Internet, but to find exactly what you are looking for from a reliable source is challenging. This Small Ruminant Toolbox provides those quality educational resources all in one place.”
The toolbox is also serves as a resource for extension and county agents and others charged with helping producers find the information they need to be successful. Will Getz, professor and Extension specialist at Fort Valley State University, says “The Small Ruminant Toolbox and the workshops we’ve conducted have been one of our most successful endeavors for small ruminant production and management.”
Steve Jones, a small ruminant specialist with the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service says “The greatest benefit of the Small Ruminant Toolbox is exposing the producers to the research and applying that research on their farms. “For example, we conducted two on-farm demonstrations using forage brassicas as an alternative to feeding hay and supplement. We estimate that farmers saved $2 a head on average as a result of the on-farm demos. One farm in particular, so far has saved over $3,000 and the potential is there to save up to $15,000.”
The Small Ruminant Toolbox is available online at www.sare.org/ruminant-toolbox. You can also order a jump drive containing all the toolbox information. The price is $5 each, plus $3 for shipping and handling. Buy it online through PayPal. For bulk pricing, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1 (800) 346-9140.
Want more information? Contact Linda Coffey at email@example.com or call ATTRA at 800-346-9140.