By Addy Hankins
The University of Findlay says it offers a variety of opportunities for students to expand their horizons and gain experience in their desired career field. One of those ways is the University of Findlay’s Sheep Showing Team.
“When I first started here, we showed sheep out in Sedalia, Missouri and some other places like the state fair but Dr. (Farabee) McCartney, the department chair, did most of it himself, so we didn’t really have a lot of student involvement,” said Joe Payton, Co-Barn Manager at the University of Findlay.
The University of Findlay’s Sheep Showing Team began at the end of 2010 and has been running since.
The team began with the purchase of a group of bred ewes from Mapolyne Farms and grew to about 65 brood ewes and 5 stud rams by the spring of 2013.
The University of Findlay now has about 80 sheep of Southdown and Suffolk breed.
Payton explains the increasing amount of student involvement over the years.
“In the past six years we’ve gotten more student involvement in the team. We’ll start during the school year, and they’ll come now and help get everything ready,” said Payton.
Payton explained that students on the team learn how to take care of the sheep and train them to be ready for their shows in the summer.
Emily Bravard, freshman at the University of Findlay, says showing sheep is nothing new for her.
“I’ve been around livestock most of my life, I showed sheep at my fair last year, so I knew that I wanted to gain more knowledge about how to show them so I could have a better show year at my fair this year,” said Bravard.
Bravard explained all her duties in a typical practice for the team.
“Me and my partner, Sam, go in on Tuesdays at 7 a.m. to roughly 9 a.m. and we get there, we sign in, and then we go to the stalls, and we get the halters,” Bravard said. “We then catch the sheep and tie them up to the fence and then we untie one and we walk them down and up the aisles and then we practice show walking them and then we feed them and we’re done for the day.”
The Sheep Showing Team is open to all University of Findlay students, even if they aren’t majoring in an animal science field or have any prior experience with sheep.
Olivia Fairchild, freshman at the University of Findlay, is also a member of the team and says this is somewhat of a new adventure for her. “The only experience that I had with sheep was from my animal handling class last semester,” said Fairchild. “So far I like it and think that it’s a really good experience, it’s really hands-on and we got to practice some of the techniques that we learned in animal handling such as throwing the sheep and trimming their hooves.”
Fairchild has faced some challenges working with the sheep.
“I learned that it’s very difficult handling the fall lambs, it’s pretty challenging in the beginning,” Fairchild said. “But hopefully after a couple of weeks of haltering and walking them, it’ll become easier on them and us.”
Payton says the instructors start all students off on the same level of teaching and work their way up, so that no one gets left behind.
“I’ll help teach and I have a hand full of students who have been on it before and they’ve shown sheep before, so I’ll also have them help,” said Payton.
The team will attend sheep shows at Greenville, Sedalia, and the Ohio State Fair beginning at the end of May and into June and July.
“I would recommend it because it gets you involved, it allows you to be around the barn managers so you can network and things like that, and you can be around the animals,” said Bravard.
There is no cost for students to join the team and all are welcomed and encouraged to join if interested.
The team meets in the mornings and evenings Monday through Thursday, and anyone interested in joining should contact Joe Payton at 419-434-6371.