Wednesday, May 22, 2024
May 22, 2024

Sheep breeders seek Salt Spring members

There are currently no active Salt Spring Island-based members in a regional sheep association, according to its new president, who hopes an upcoming field day in Metchosin might change that.  

Inter-Island Sheep Breeders Association (IISBA) president Garrett Jolicoeur said the regional organization would be holding its first workshop of 2024 on Saturday, March 2 — the IISBA’s Lambing Field Day. 

“We’re trying to plan three or four events throughout the year to get people connected,” said Jolicoeur. “We have a few current members from Quadra, from Galiano, Saturna and Gabriola, but not Salt Spring.” 

IISBA has been serving the interests of sheep producers within the Vancouver Island and Gulf Islands coastal region since the 1960s; as one of the founding organizations of the BC Sheep Federation, IISBA brings the concerns of sheep producers to the provincial table and then on to the federal level through the Canadian Sheep Federation, Jolicoeur said.  

But the association also has a long history of being a means for people in far-flung communities to connect, he added; membership is open to anyone who has sheep, would like to have sheep, is interested in wool crafts, or just wants to support local sheep farmers. 

Jolicoeur said dwindling numbers — and then, the pandemic — led to a drop-off in IISBA event participation some years ago.  

“It’s been about a year now we’ve been back active,” said Jolicoeur, “and our membership has probably doubled since then. So it was definitely needed.” 

The event is free to current members — and anyone interested is welcome to join. A $10 annual membership he said is a great bargain for the wealth of knowledge exchanged. 

“We’re pretty passionate about the sheep industry,” said Jolicoeur. “There aren’t a lot of big flocks anymore; farming is getting so hard these days, and expensive. We want to be a support network for all these small farmers to learn how to do better, and to be able to make it in these changing times.” 

Pre-registration is mandatory for the workshop — “We’re going to have catering, so we sort of need to know numbers!” laughed Jolicoeur — and hands-on participation is encouraged, so attendees will need appropriate clothing and gumboots. 

Topics to be covered include lambing record keeping and marking, ear tagging and maintenance, lamb pulling strategies, tail banding procedures, bottle feeding/bucket raising, lambing pen setup/foot bath, Selenium administration, and barn camera setup and monitoring. 

“So everything to do with lambing season,” said Jolicoeur, “the problems that can occur, and how to deal with them.”  

The March 2 event will be held at the Parry Bay Sheep Farm in Metchosin, from 10 a.m. to noon — with refreshments to follow. 

For information or to become an IISBA member, email Jolicoeur at iisbapresident@gmail.com or visit interislandsheepbreeders.ca

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