The DSANA Dairy Sheep Symposium is the major annual event of the dairy sheep industry in North America, providing an educational environment and fostering connections among dairy sheep producers, processors, and researchers. For 24 years, dairy sheep producers from all over Canada, Mexico, Europe, Central & South America, New Zealand, and the United States have attended.

As a small but growing industry, the symposium provides a critical time for producers to meet, gain exposure to the latest in dairy research, learn from experts in the field and one another, and help guide the dairy sheep industry for the years to come.

Come join us for ...

Opportunities to meet other dairy sheep producers from the US & Canada

Presentations on dairy sheep production, economics, reproduction, and nutrition

Visits to dairy sheep farms -- see how others are raising dairy sheep

We have a TREMENDOUS SCHEDULE for our 2018 Symposium!!

 Thursday morning – we focus on the economics of sheep dairying and on-farm processing

  •          What are the current economics of milking sheep?  Yves Berger, former Superintendant of the Spooner Research Station, and co-author of Principles of Sheep Dairying in North America, will present financial models for building and operating a sheep dairy in 2018.  If you are considering starting a sheep dairy, you won’t want to miss this discussion of the capital costs, the operating costs, and the potential returns of joining the rest of us in this unique industry!
  •          Do you have visions of making delicious artisan sheep-milk cheese on your own farm?  Dr Catherine Durham (Market Economist, U of Oregon) has collected data on farmstead sheeps-milk cheesemaking, including set-up and operational costs, yields, marketing, and the markets.  She will present her breakeven analysis of artisan cheesemaking, how FSMA has changed the artisan cheesemaking business, and thoughts on additional revenue streams such as on-farm stores and agritourism.
  •          And then hear from three producers – from Idaho (pictured below), Montana, and New Jersey – who have recently started a sheep dairy with on-farm processing.  We’re calling this our “School of Hard Knocks”.  Each producer/processor will tell us:
    1. What they thought it would cost (capital & operating)
    2. What it actually cost
    3. What was the biggest surprise or glitch
    4. What they think they managed really well
    5. The single best piece of advice they’d give someone considering on-farm processing

Thursday noontime – lunch & visit!  At lunchtime you can talk with presenters, vendors, and the fellow producers you’ve just met during the morning sessions.  Half the value of the Symposium is the soulmates you meet, the friends you make, and the information you glean from other dairy sheep producers!

Thursday afternoon – we focus on agritourism, direct sales, marketing, and other strategies to generate revenue for small sheep dairies.

  •          Can agritourism add to your dairy-sheep revenue stream?  Hear how three producers – from South Carolina, Washington, and Alabama – have used agri-tourism to augment their dairy sheep operations.  We’re so lucky to have producers dedicated to helping others by sharing their experiences on:
    1. What experience their agritourism customer is looking for
    2. The revenues that can be generated from agritourism
    3. The costs associated with agritourism
    4. How to match your strengths and resources with agritourism market opportunities
    5. The single best piece of advice they’d give someone considering agri-tourism
  • They say it's all about social mediaBut we all know you can use up a lot of time with social media, and ... is it a good use of time?  Kim Beer, marketing services entrepreneur and former goat dairy owner, will show us how to use social media -- effectively -- to reach our customers.
  • Can labelling help differentiate your product?  And does the investment bring a return?  Emily Moose of A Greener World will present her perspective on the value of aligning your farm or product with a label’s statement or message, and how labelling reaches a target consumer.
  • There's nothing more inspiring than someone else's nice work.  We've got a producer panel of sheep-cheese producers from Texas, Missouri, and Pennsylvania, who will share some of their marketing experiences, and tell us about some of their marketing elements that work particularly well.

Cheese!! and Wine!!  Come to our Thursday evening Wine-and-Cheese Reception, and sample from the huge variety of cheeses produced by our DSANA members.

Friday morning – we focus on genetic improvement in our North American dairy sheep flock, and in European dairy sheep breeds, as a means of improving sustainability in our dairy sheep operations.

  •          What if you could increase your average flock milk yield 10%, or even by 100 lb milk/ewe/year?  How would that impact your bottom line?  Dr Ron Lewis (U of Nebraska) will present models of genetic improvement in dairy sheep, using Estimated Breeding Values (now available to DSANA members!!) to make breeding, selection, and culling decisions, and will show us how the tools of milk-recording and EBVs can translate into increased milk production.
  •          Four DSANA producers have entered their 2018 flock information and production data into the Genovis-DSANA Genetic Improvement Program.  Laurel Kieffer (Dream Valley Farm, WI) will officially launch the Genovis-DSANA Genetic Improvement Program, and the four “pilot farm” producers will tell us:
* What they hope to gain from the program
* What was easy, and what was challenging, about entering their flock’s information and data
  •          The Assaf breed has 900,000 dairy ewes located in an area of northern Spain that is the size of Ohio.  Since the 1980s the Assaf Spanish Breeders Association has selected for yield, components, udder conformation, and structural conformation.  Mariana Marques de Almeida (Ms J & Co) will tell us about the Assaf breed’s genetic progress, transforming the Assaf breed from a dual-purpose animal into one of the most productive dairy sheep breeds in the world.

Lunch, the DSANA Annual Meeting, and a Brainstorming-Session-for-All.  At lunchtime on Friday, we will hold the DSANA Annual Meeting (including the election of new Directors), and present DSANA’s strategic plan for 2019.  And then we will have a Brainstorming Session, when you can tell us:

  • Where you need the most help or information for your own operation
  • What you think is the greatest need for producers in North America
  • When is the best time for future Dairy Sheep Symposia
  • What projects DSANA should focus on
  • What information you’d like to see presented at the 2019 Symposium

Friday afternoon – we focus on management of our high-producing dairy sheep flocks, particularly through nutrition and breeding management

  •        More and more dairy sheep producers are using, or are wanting to use, laparoscopic AI to introduce high-production European genetics to their flocks.  The learning curve has been steep for many.  California vet and dairy sheep producer Andrea Mongini of Ewetopia Dairy, CA (pictured right) will talk to us about how nutrition management of the breeding ewes can have a huge impact on the success of LAI.
  •        Do you have ewes that are peaking at 8 or 10 lb of milk per day?  How do you feed these high-producing dairy ewes to maintain their milk yield while keeping them healthy?  And just as importantly, how to you feed these ewes in the last trimester of gestation, when they are carrying twins or triplets, and developing udders for such high milk yield?  Hubbard Feeds dairy nutritionist Barbie Casey (pictured right, as a youth, at the Ohio State Fair) will give us her perspective, using her experience in dairy cow nutrition, as well as her experience designing feed rations for American dairy ewes in lactation and late gestation.
  •        Successful conception is the first step in the process to having a financially-sustainable milking season.  In this session, Dr Andrea Mongini returns to help us understand the physiologic process of conception, and how to manage the breeding ewes to maximize conception.
  • Do you wish you had more milk in the fall so that you could produce more soft cheeses for the Christmas market – or perhaps you have a cheesemaker that would love to buy fall milk if you could only produce it -- but you just find that your fall-lambing ewes aren’t as reproductively efficient?  We round out the afternoon sessions with a presentation by Mariana Marques de Almeida (co-owner of Ms J & Co., pictured above) on strategies to improve out-of-season breeding on smaller farms.

Friday night – It’s Banquet time!!  Join us for an evening of good food and good company, and hear who will receive the Boylan Award for service to the dairy sheep industry, and who will receive the DSANA Mentorship Award.

Saturday – Farm tour – plus a hands-on mastitis-testing workshop -- Hop on the bus and visit a sheep dairy farm with on-farm processing, direct sales, and agritourism as elements of their operations. 

  •  Green Dirt Farm, in Weston, MO, is owned and operated by daughter-mother team of Eliza Spertus (pictured here) and Sarah Hoffmann, who milk 80 ewes, purchase milk from four other sheep-dairy farms and one cow dairy, and produce 30,000 lbs of award-winning cheeses each year.
  •   CMT workshop.  Longtime dairy sheep producers Bill Halligan (Irish Cream Dairy, NE) and Laurel Kieffer (WI) will lead a hands-on workshop on the use of the California Mastitis Test to recognize clinical and subclinical mastitis in the parlor.  Learn how to squirt, swish, and squint at the CMT paddles, so that you can detect mastitis in your ewes.

Sunday – Cheese-making workshop.  Sarah Hoffmann, cheesemaker at Green Dirt Farm (pictured here leading the Cheese School at the Harveyville Project), will lead a workshop on soft-ripened cheeses for a maximum of 15 attendees.  Equipment suppliers Page & Pedersen and Dairy Fab will also be there, presenting information on their lines of cheesemaking equipment and supplies.

    Click here for information on conference location/hotel

    Link to book room/s at KC Marriot Country Club Plaza

    Registration costs

    1.     Full conference package (incl farm visits):  for DSANA members USD $175*

    • Coffee breaks and lunch (Thursday, Friday, and Saturday)
    • Wine & Cheese reception (Thursday, 6:00 to 8:00 pm)
    • Presentations (Thursday and Friday)
    • Farm visits (Saturday)
    • Proceedings

    ***Full package does not include Friday banquet and Sunday cheese-making class.  Banquet:  When you register for the Symposium, you will have to go back and register separately for the banquet.***

    2.     Full conference package (incl farm visits):  for non-members USD $215*
    • Coffee breaks and lunch (Thursday, Friday, and Saturday)
    • Wine & Cheese reception (Thursday, 6:00 to 8:00 pm)
    • Presentations (Thursday and Friday)
    • Farm visits (Saturday)
    • Proceedings

    ***Full package does not include Friday banquet and Sunday cheese-making class.  Banquet:  When you register for the Symposium, you will have to go back and register separately for the banquet.***

    Family and colleague discount

    Discount for additional attendees from one farm or family:   20% off of Full Conference Package.  This discount is not applicable for the first participant.  The discount is for family members or for colleagues who work for the same farm or company.

    Student discount 

    Student participants can receive a 20% discount on their ticket prices.  On the day of the event, a student card must be presented upon registration or the participant will have to refund the amount of the reduction.

    3.     Friday Banquet: USD $55*
    • 4-course meal
    • Evening wear requested
    4.     Symposium Thursday only: USD $125*
    • Thursday presentations
    • Coffee break and lunch
    • Wine & Cheese reception in evening
    • Proceedings
    5.     Symposium Friday only: USD $100*
    • Friday presentations
    • Coffee break and lunch (DSANA Annual Membership Meeting during lunch)
    • Proceedings
    6.     Farm visits, Saturday only: USD $100*
    • Coffee break and lunch
    • Visit two dairy farms
    • Transportation from/to hotel
    7.     Cheese-making class at Green Dirt Farm - Sunday : $125*
    • Focus on soft-ripened sheeps-milk cheeses
    • $125 per person
    • Maximum 15 places available, on a first-register-first-serve basis, *with priority given to DSANA members.  Non-members can register and be put on a waiting list, and will be notified if there is space.
    • Transportation provided to/from cheese plant.
    • Attendees will board the bus at the hotel at 9 am and return to the hotel by 6 pm. Cost includes workshop at Green Dirt Farm from 10-4 with a break for lunch, coffee and pastries in the am, lunch and transportation.


    The Kansas City Marriott Country Club Plaza,

    4445 Main St, Kansas City, MO 64111

    Phone: (816) 531-3000

    The room rate is $129/night, and includes free parking and wifi, but you will have to pay for transportation to the airport (approximately $16.50 each way on Super Shuttle, shared ride).  If you book by October 18th, this DSANA group rate is good for any night from Wednesday November 7th through Saturday night November 10th.

    You can reserve your room on-line by clicking here: 

    DSANA Symposium group rate

     or you can Call 1-800-810-3708 to make reservations by phone, and be sure to say you are attending the DSANA Symposium.  You must book your hotel room/s by October 25th get the DSANA group rate!  Also: Please note that even though the Marriott website says there is a parking fee, DSANA conference attendees have the parking fee waived!

    Bring family members for other (non-sheep-dairy) things to do in Kansas City:

    Kansas City events, Nov 8-11

    Enormous thanks to our Platinum and Gold sponsors of the 2018 Dairy Sheep Symposium:


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