Funding available for sheep handling systems

From the New Glasgow News

The federal government has approved $29,700 under the Growing Forward 2 program for the sheep industry in Nova Scotia. The industry, spearheaded by the Sheep Producers Association of Nova Scotia, will contribute $44,550.

“It’s really exciting because in my mind, the dairy industry gets a lot of … attention. It’s really, really nice to see the sheep industry get some,” said Hines, an agriculture technician and shepherd at the Dalhousie Agricultural Campus in Bible Hill.

“It may be a lot smaller than other industries but we are a … strong community in the agriculture industry.”

The funding announcement was made at the Dal AC ruminant animal centre on Monday morning.

The funding will help producers purchase gates and handling crates for safer handling systems, which should improve monitoring as well as reduce stress on both animals and producers. It will also fund the purchase of fences and equipment to assist in the reduction of parasite risks affecting flocks.

Information from a press conference confirms funding must be applied for and can provide producers up to 40 per cent of the cost, up to maximum of $750 per application. The deadline to apply is Jan. 16, 2015.

Hines said although there aren’t any official applications from Dal AC being compiled that she is aware of, she would like to improve on sheep handling systems that are “in need of dire repair.”

“They are starting to rot and age … the hinges are coming apart and wood structures are really rotten,” Hines said of the campus’s sheep handling systems that handle sheep on an individual basis for a variety of needs, such as issuing medication, hoof trimming and isolation during health issues.

Hines said there are upwards of 100 sheep at Dal AC in a given year. She added the funding announcement is beneficial for the entire province.

“It’s really important for current sheep farmers to get stronger and to bring in newer sheep farmers and educate and establish and keep growing the sheep industry.”

Beth Densmore, president of the Sheep Producers Association of Nova Scotia, told the Truro Daily News funding can be requested for fencing, gates, solar panels and setting up safe lanes and alleyways for sheep handling.

“You don’t have that stress on the sheep if you are not crowding them … if they have anemia or a parasite it will cause their death very quickly” and a safe environment to protect other sheep must also be a priority.

Densmore said although the funding available is not overly large, hopefully there will be more down the road.

“It’s not a huge amount of dollars … the more applications shows the need (for it) … maybe there’s (opportunity) for more funding.”

During the announcement, Cumberland Colchester Musquodoboit Valley MP Scott Armstrong said funding will result in “stronger profits for producers, improve safety on the farm and better animal welfare.”