ASGA Call 71 Replay: What You Need to Know About Sheep Health in Solar Systems
For our October 2023 ASGA Call, we put together a panel of veterinarians and experienced graziers to discuss how they handle some of the biggest health issues that come up in a solar grazing system.
- Cindy Wolf – Veterinarian from the University of Minnesota,
- Judy St. Leger – Veterinary pathologist, solar grazier, and Founding ASGA Member
- Caroline Owens – ASGA Board Member with a long history raising sheep, experienced solar grazier, and Founding ASGA Member.
The topics they discussed included:
- Foot health: What do you need to know about it and What are the different conditions you need to watch out for?
- Parasites: What are the best approaches to managing parasites on solar sites?
- Near death experiences: How do you handle you’re sheep becoming unwell on a solar site and how do you catch it?
- What every solar grazier should put in their sheep first aid box: What equipment do you need to bring to a solar site?
- Overwintering: What are the health concerns with overwintering and winter housing, including the risks of co-mingling multiple flocks?
- Herd Health While Scaling Up: What are the risks you run into when you’re growing your flock quickly?
Date: October 4th, 2023
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About the Speakers
Caroline Owens and her husband David run 400 Katahdin ewes at Owens Farm in Sunbury, Pennsylvania. Part of the flock performs contract grazing at Susquehanna University’s solar array from April to November. Caroline is also a board member for American Solar Grazing Association. The family started with sheep 30 years ago on their first farm in New Hampshire, with Dorsets and Finns. They lamb once a year in a modified pasture system. Lambs are sold as feeders, breeding stock, or grass-finished for direct-marketing to consumers. A former vocational agriculture teacher, Caroline has run many educational programs on the farm including Sheep 101, Lambing Clinic, Sheep Boot Camp, sheep adoptions, and children’s camps.
Judy St Leger grew up in New York State and graduated from the New York State College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University. For the past 30 years, she’s enjoyed a brilliant career as a veterinary pathologist traveling the globe teaching and working on wildlife health. Her commitment to conservation includes not just exotic wildlife but also American farms, farmers, and farm land.
In 2009, she and her husband, Marc purchased a small, historic farm in the Mohawk River Valley of New York. They have been restoring the farm and raising grass-fed lamb and breeding stock to enhance the American lamb market. Income from the sheep pays for the farm restoration.
In 2018, Judy had her first foray into solar grazing when she partnered with another local farmer to manage vegetation on a small array. That enterprise led her to meet Lexie Hain and one thing led to another as they tend to do.
Judy’s a founding member of ASGA. She sees solar grazing and agrivoltaics as a way to keep solar farms farming. With the challenges facing the dairy industry in the northeast, shifting to sheep might just be a way to save some farm families.
Cindy Wolf DVM is a small ruminant veterinarian who taught at the University of Minnesota for 35 years as the small ruminant veterinary specialist. My husband and I have a grass based farm in SE MN where we raise sheep, goats and beef cattle. This year we partnered with a solar grazier and leased a percentage of our ewes to graze on 7 sites in 2 states.