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Local Experts Educate Missouri Farmers at Annual Conference

Corey Davidson

For many farmers in and around Missouri, there are few resources and education programs to help answer the important questions. The Boone County Soil & Water Conservation District set out to fill this gap in 2016 by convening local experts. The 4th Annual Missouri Sheep & Goat Conference met on Friday at the MU Bradford Research Center.

The conference offers education for producers or producing hopefuls on topics like soil health, parasite management, and marketing. Goat farmer Brandon Frazier says he attended for the first time to learn more about FAMACHA, which is a method of testing for parasites in some livestock.

“I’m just kinda looking to soak it all up, we went to the FAMACHA training this morning and that was kind of the main thing that we were looking forward to. Learning how to do some of the tests to look for parasites in small ruminants.”

Andy Hodge is a resource conservationist with the Natural Resource Conservation Service. He held the soil health demonstration on Friday and hopes to get producers to think more about their soil.

“Basically, looking at giving them some basic visuals of what we’re talking about when we’re talking about soil health. There are four basic pillars: plant diversity, keeping cover on the surface all year-round, increasing organic matter, and keeping a living root in the soil.”

The conference had nearly 90 producers in attendance. Organizer Ethan Miller says the conference welcomes people from all over Missouri.

“We created this conference a few years ago because there’s a lack of outreach and education for sheep and goat producers in the state, and you'll find, even throughout the Midwest to some degree, we’ve got people here from 5 states.”

Organizers say that from the moment the conference ends, they will already be working on next year’s.