The UF/IFAS Sheep Unit is located directly next to the UF Animal Sciences building on Shealy Drive. The sheep unit is a 30-acre farm that includes a 100-head capacity feed yard where the UF Ram test is conducted, and approximately 100-head lambing operation. There are 2 breeds of sheep raised here. Katahdin and Florida Native, as well as crossbreds between the breeds. The sheep unit provides facilities for research for intensive efforts in nutrition, reproduction, and physiology research. The manager, one full-time staff member, plus part-time student employees care for the animals utilized for research, teaching, and extension activities. The objectives are to improve the quality of animal protein and increase the efficiencies of production.
There are approximately 100 used for breeding at the Sheep Unit. All breeding is done by natural cover, meaning the ram is turned out with the ewes during breeding season. The ewe’s gestation
is 150 days, and most lambs are born between January and March. When it is time for an ewe to give birth, she is kept in a pasture near the barn. Student employees watch the ewes and will assist with the birth if necessary. The lambs are ear-tagged for identification and their tails are eventually docked. This unit undergoes weekly herd health checks by the UF Large Animal Hospital, and they provide any medical treatment if required. This is an opportunity for our student employees to get hands-on experience with ultra-sounding ewes and learn to read an ultrasound image. Our student employees take full advantage of being able to learn new skills that will help them build their resumes.
This unit also serves as a location for Extension functions such as Intro to Animal Science labs and dairy science research. Students are welcome to contact the Unit manager, Clay Whitehead via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information about volunteering or employment opportunities at the unit.