Sheep and Goat Meeting

You never know what to expect when you walk into a room of sheep and goat farmers.

I looked around and didn’t know anyone. There were couples. There were large families with children who are attending as part of their 4H program.

It was relatively quiet.

I signed in, pulled out my notebook and took a seat.

Then by the time Betsy Hodge started her presentation I knew I was in the right place and in good company.

Northern NY Fall Sheep & Goat Meeting

Betsy Hodge,  Regional Livestock Team leader at Cornell Cooperative Extension in St. Lawrence County is very passionate about sheep and goats with years of experience to back it up as a teacher and also as a producer.

She talked about different pasture management systems and their consequences.

Having only worked during lambing season on an Icelandic Sheep farm in Copenhagen, I wouldn’t say I have bags of experience.

So it was great to hear about all the different aspects of sheep farming, especially about “lambing” in the North Country.

Mother and lambs


A big focus of our talk was on lambing. Betsy spoke of the pros and cons of lambing or kidding once a year, three times in two years, and other schemes at different times of year.

A lot of this depends on the breed you have and if you’re able to accommodate their natural breeding patterns to your schedule.

For example, lambing during a harsh Winter can be tough all around for the farmer and the animals.

But if you have the need to market lamb year-round, then this is something you plan for.

One thing I know with Icelandic Sheep is that their breeding patterns can be hard to force out of season.

Being such an ancient breed, I’m not sure I would want to mess with that logic much.

Plus we’re not looking to market a large quantity of lamb anyway and more interested in the wool and milk.

Overall,  lambing (and kidding) is really important when it comes to sheep (and goats) and will be different for every farmer.

Rams and sheep

Great resources and folks to learn from

I won’t bore you with all my notes, but as you can tell the meeting was very informative!

I ended up meeting a super cool veterinarian who specializes in sheep (among other animals) and I’m sure I will be in contact with her once our flock is here.

I also spoke with some really nice folks & farmers who made me feel really welcome to the group.

We’re lucky to have such a great resource as Cornell Cooperative Extension operating across several counties of our region bringing programs and information out to the community.



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