Sheep and Goat Current Projects
An interdisciplinary initiative from the University of Florida/IFAS team of faculty.
The “Sheep and Goat Industry Development Project” is an interdisciplinary effort aimed to evaluate the challenges and potentials of the sheep and goat industry in Florida. The overall goals of this project are (1) to assess production and market potential and identify strategies for organization of the production chain, (2) identify main challenges and strategies to improve the productivity of existing operations, and (3) establish a sire performance testing for small ruminants at the University of Florida, focusing on resistance to internal parasites.
This project has two components: a production and market analysis, where a series of surveys will be administered to producers, consumers and processing facilities; and an evaluation of the current genetic pool for productivity and parasite resistance. Our first survey started: if you are a sheep or goat producer in Florida, please give us 15 minutes of your time to tell us about your operation, main challenges, and needs.
In 2020, the University of Florida IFAS’s Deans for Research and Extension, and Vice President for IFAS, created the Support for Emerging Enterprise Development Integration Teams (SEEDIT) program, to finance creative ideas for investigating and supporting the development of emerging enterprises in Florida. A multidisciplinary team of extension agents, animal scientist, agronomists and economists put forward a project for evaluating the sheep and goat industry in Florida: a latent enterprise which involves over 6,000 producers in the state (>85,000 head) but results in only $4 million in sales per year statewide. Based on the 2017 USDA census, 90% of those farms have less than $10,000 annual income and operate on less than 50 acres. Nevertheless, we believe that a growing ethnic and novel (“gourmet”) market demands more than what we can currently produce. There is a great potential to grow, but there are many challenges that need addressing, and that is why we put this team together. This project is composed of two parts: a production and market analysis, and an evaluation of the current genetic pool. The production and market analysis will be done through a series of surveys to 1) assess production characteristics and main challenges; 2) evaluate slaughtering and capacity and cost; and 3) evaluate market opportunity for lamb and goat meat. The second component of this project will reinstitute the sire (ram and buck) test at the University of Florida, to evaluate our commercial herd’s genetics especially for performance and gastrointestinal parasites (starting in 2021).
Our first survey – for producers - was recently released, and we will need your help for enhancing our reach and capturing a reliable picture of the sheep and goat industry in Florida. If you have an interest in participating, click here for accessing the survey. The survey is voluntary and completely anonymous and should take about 15 minutes to complete. The Consumer and Processing surveys will be available in Spring 2021. Additional announcements will be made as we take the next steps and you are invited to check this page for new updates. If you have an interest in being part of this project or need more information, please write an email at email@example.com.