AmericanFarm.com

NRV Sheep and Goat Club schedules October sale

By JANE W. GRAHAM
AFP Correspondent

PULASKI, Va. (Oct. 7, 2014) — A long-time dream by a sheep producer here has become a reality with the formation on Sept. 2, of the New River Valley Sheep and Goat Club.
Founding member, Cecil King said he had been thinking since 1994 about the need for those who raise sheep and goats in Southwest Virginia to form some kind of group to help market their meat and fiber. 
Eight sheep and goat producers formed the club and King said in the month since forming, the club has acquired 40 dues paying members.
The club is made up of members from Pulaski, Floyd, Giles, Montgomery, Grayson, Craig, Roanoke, Patrick, Wythe and Bland counties.
They have also scheduled a breeders’ sale for Oct. 18 at the New River Valley Fairgrounds north of Dublin, Va. The sale is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m.
Sarah Smiley, communications director for the club, said breeds offered include Kiko, Spanish, Boers, Myotonic and crosses.
A big attraction in the sale, Smiley said, will be five heritage breed ewes from Hog Island, Va. There are only 200 of this rare breed still alive. The club hopes to help increase the numbers of these and other heritage breeds.
Smiley said the club’s formal mission statement sets forth its goals, “to support and promote the sheep and goat agri-businesses in the New River Valley and surrounding area and provide education and appreciation of these breeds for the benefit of the club members and the general public.”
Both King and Smiley said the club recently gave a tour of a local farm to a Georgia buyer.
They hope to be able to collectively market their lamb meat to one entity and are looking to the south for buyers.
As the population density changes, King explained, the market for lamb in the South is increasing. Traditionally, lamb from this area has been marketed to the Northeast where there are larger ethnic populations.
He said that the demand for lamb in general is increasing and the number of restaurants offering it on their menus has increased by 14 percent in the past year.
One of the club’s objectives is to educate farmers interested in having sheep and goats as well as people wanting them for pets.
King said they are very useful on small acreages and their smaller size make them easier for both adults and youth to handle.
Their educational efforts will include field trips to farms and participation in various events across their membership area, he said.
The first these events will be a booth Oct. 11-12 at the Newbern Fall Festival in the Pulaski County village that was once the county seat. 
This annual event usually attracts large crowds and will provide the club an excellent chance to tell its story and recruit more members.