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Virginia Tech Sheep Extension

VTSheep - Home of the Sheep Extension Program at Virginia Tech

Extension sheep programs focus on assisting producers and the industry become more profitable and sustainable. Educational programs are delivered on a local and statewide basis to transfer new knowledge and technology to the farm. Additional programs assist producers in adding value to their sheep enterprise.

Sheep illustration.

Virginia’s sheep population of over 89,000 exists in all regions of the state. The state’s abundant forage resources, moderate climate, and close proximity to markets make Virginia ideally suited for a vibrant, diverse sheep industry. Multiple management and production systems are employed in the state, with the majority of lambs born in the spring and raised in a forage-based environment. Commercial, spring-lambing flocks comprise the majority of the industry which is supported by a strong seedstock industry. Growing segments include sheep raised for youth 4-H projects as well as hair sheep. 

Upcoming Events

2024 Virginia Performance Ram Lamb Test Sale
Saturday, August 24, 2024
* Nominations Due: April 5, 2024


2024 Virginia Tech Southwest AREC Ram Test Annual Field Day and Ram Sale
Friday, September 20, 2024
*Nominations Due: May 1, 2024


If you are a person with a disability and require any auxiliary aids, services or other accommodations for any Extension event, please discuss your accommodation needs with the Extension staff at your local Extension office at least 1 week prior to the event.

Sheep Programs

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     Former student, Zach Jacobs, rounding up escapees at the Copenhaver Sheep Center in Blacksburg, Virginia. Winter, frozen ground.
    Shepherd's Symposium

    This annual program provides education on current topics and research of interest to sheep producers. The one-day event includes a blend of lecture and demonstration sessions. The Symposium is typically held in early January, and location is rotated across the state.

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    Baby lambs playing at Copenhaver Sheep Center on a frosty morning.
    Sheep 101 Basics Workshop

    This educational program is designed for new and beginning shepherds to provide hands-on experience and training in basic sheep production techniques. Topic areas include nutrition, health, genetics, reproduction, marketing, and management. Instruction includes opportunity for participants to work with sheep to learn necessary skills and attain experience. The Workshop will be held as a two-day event in October, as well as, annually in conjunction with the Shepherd’s Symposium.

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    Photo of the entrance to the Virginia Sheep Evaluation Center at the Virginia Tech Shenandoah Valley Research and Extension Center. Steeles Tavern, VA.
    Virginia Ram Test Program

    The Virginia Ram Test has existed at the Shenandoah Valley AREC since 1975. Ram lambs, consigned by the state’s producers, are developed and managed in a central location to provide objective information on economically important traits such as growth and carcass performance. The program concludes with an annual sale of rams the fourth Saturday in August.

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    Southwest Agricultural Research and Extension Center with sheep grazing on green grass beneath a blue sky dotted with fluffy white clouds.
    Southwest Agricultural Research and Extension Center Ram Test

    The Virginia Tech Southwest AREC Ram Test began in 2012 and consists primarily of Katahdin sheep breeders from across the United States. This program is unique and created with much discussion and interest across the industry. Through the forage-based ram performance test, designed specifically to quantify growth and parasite resistance in rams. The program concludes with an annual field day and sale of the top ~50% of rams the fourth Friday in September.