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New River Valley Sheep and Goat Club comes to Southwest Virginia

Syncope Falls Farm myotonic goatsBy Sarah Smiley

Special to The SWT

 

The “Buy Local, Eat Local” idea is gaining importance in Southwest Virginia and supports the farmers in our region. Small farms are the leading U.S. supplier of goats and sheep, which are used for meat, milk and fiber products. There is an increasing demand for these products throughout the U.S. In fact, goat meat is the No. 1 consumed meat in the world.

To support these small farmers, the New River Valley Sheep and Goat Club recently formed.

“The farmers in the New River Valley and surrounding area are doing a great job raising small ruminants (sheep and goats), and interest is increasing as more people become aware of how useful these animals are for production as well as land management,” says Cecil King, founding member and president of the New River Valley Sheep and Goat Club. “By working together, not only can we learn from each other to improve our herds and flocks, we can work with large buyers to get a better price for our stock.”

The club recently provided a tour of a local farm for an interested buyer from Georgia who is looking to fill a large monthly order for sustainable pasture-raised lambs and goats.

“The buyer was very impressed by the stock and the quality of the farms we visited’” King said. “It’s possible for us to get better prices for our quality stock as well as find markets and uses of the products derived from these animals.”

The club welcomes all aspects of sheep and goat breeds, which includes meat and milk breeds as well as derived products, such as lotions, soaps, pelts, fleece and fiber, as well as heritage breeds and those who keep sheep and goats as pets. Sheep and goats are popular among small farms and homesteaders because the stock is easier for both adults and children to manage.

Membership is open to anyone with an interest in sheep, goats and associated products in the New River Valley and surrounding area. This includes the counties of: Pulaski, Floyd, Giles, Montgomery, Grayson, Craig, Roanoke, Patrick, Carroll, Wythe and Bland.

The mission of the New River Valley Sheep and Goat club is to support and promote the sheep and goat agri-business in the New River Valley and surrounding area, and provide education and appreciation of these breeds for the benefit of club members and the general public. As farmers, members are stewards of the land and believe it is important to raise healthy animals in a manner that improves their land, the community and the environment.

It is important that sheep and goat owners begin or expand their flocks and herds with the healthiest stock possible. To assist with this, the club hosted a breeders sale at the New River Valley Fairgrounds. In addition, experienced club members have agreed to be mentors to new owners or those new to stock management.

Expanding the sheep and goat farming agri-businesses in the New River Valley area is good for local farmers and homesteaders, and good for our communities. For more information, email NRVsheepgoatclub@gmail.com.

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