Recent dual industry educational events reflect change, enthusiasm
Writer: Steve Byrns, 325-653-4576, email@example.com
Contact: Marvin Ensor, 325-653-4576, firstname.lastname@example.org
SAN ANGELO – Texas A&M AgriLife personnel were pleased at the outpouring of enthusiasm documented by a flood of positive evaluations following two recent industry events in San Angelo, said event coordinators.
The events, held consecutively, were the annual sheep and goat field day highlighting work done at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in San Angelo and the inaugural Texas Sheep and Goat Expo at the San Angelo Fairgrounds.
“I’d say the first-ever Texas Sheep and Goat Expo was a great success,” said Marvin Ensor, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service regional program director at San Angelo.
“We gauged that by what we set out as our objectives, the attendance, the program and the support we had from the industry.”
As is reflected in the industry, Ensor said the expo was designed to meet a very diverse and changing sheep and goat industry by highlighting Texas producers’ four major areas of interest.
“We offered concurrent sessions that met everybody’s needs — from meat goats to traditional wool sheep to hair sheep to club lamb producers,” he said.
“We offered new updates on technology, as well as ways to combat some of the problems we’ve faced for some time such as predators and rising input costs.”
Ensor said he was pleased with the participation at both events, with the field day setting the tone with its crowd of 200.
“We had a great expo as far as participation,” Ensor said. “This being the first time, we did not know what to expect, but we estimate we had over 250 attend over the course of the two-day event.
“We have received numerous compliments about the program and questions about when and how often we will bring it back to San Angelo.”
Ensor noted the two major areas of change within the industry are the substantial growth in hair sheep numbers and an obvious decline in traditional wool sheep in Texas.
“Both sheep types are important to the industry as a whole, but there’s some change there in numbers and the number of people involved in each of those two segments of the industry,” he said. “The wool sheep are still significant in numbers though they are produced mainly by the larger operations that generally run a large number of wool sheep.
“We still have a viable wool industry that’s still active, but the change is that there has been a decline there and an increase in the hair sheep numbers. With land fragmentation and smaller tracts, there’s a lot of people that appreciate the hair sheep for what they can provide in that type of situation. That’s also a major change.”
Ensor acknowledged while there is much that’s new in the sheep and goat industry, there are still major sticking points that have plagued it for generations.
“We’re still dealing with a lot of the same issues and we’re always looking for ways to combat some of the things we’ve dealt with over the years, he said. “So this program was designed to help those in the wool industry talk about reproductive efficiency as a way to improve that area of production as well as the predator issue. Those two were the big issues for that group.”
Ensor said the hair sheep sessions responded to people who were new to the business. As with all the four sessions, the setting allowed ample opportunity for participants to interact with producers who have been involved with the animals for some time and to hear their personal management philosophies learned through years of personal experience.
“We have a committee that helped put this expo together: AgriLife Extension agents along with a number of industry people, ranchers and others who we brought in to plan this program,” Ensor said. “We’re now looking at the evaluation surveys from participants to see how often we should have a similar event, where it should be and what topics should be most warranted so we can make an informed decision in the future.
“Currently we know there is a significant number who would like to see the expo done on an annual basis, but participants may be better served having it every other year or so. By lengthening the time interval, new technologies and other areas of interest could be really confirmed before being shared during a future expo.”
For more information, contact Ensor at 325-653-4576.