The College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison plans to close its dairy sheep research program housed at the Spooner Agricultural Research Station later this year. Research on the flock will continue through this milking season, before the sheep are dispersed in the fall.
Ongoing reductions in state support have made it impossible for the college to continue to cover the broad range of agricultural sectors in Wisconsin, says Richard Straub, CALS senior associate dean.
With pending retirements and reduced resources, the Department of Animal Sciences will no longer be able to support faculty members specializing in all aspects of all species. The college will continue to support the research sheep flock — studied for wool and meat production — housed at the Arlington Agricultural Research Station.
"Although current resources do not allow us to serve the entire diversity of Wisconsin agriculture, we continue to strive to fulfill the Wisconsin Idea by sharing research expertise throughout the state to the best of our ability," says Straub. "It is our hope that by making this difficult decision to reduce programming, we will be able to maintain a physical presence in the northwestern portion of the state."
The college is not closing the Spooner station. Research, including agronomic crop field trials on the station land, will continue with a smaller staff. The display garden and community meeting room at the station will continue to be available.
This program consolidation is expected to result in reduction of staff. The college will work with affected individuals to try to identify other appropriate employment opportunities elsewhere in the UW System or state service.
Established in 1909, the Spooner Agricultural Research Station includes 388 acres in Washburn County. The station's main building provides office space for three UW Extension agents serving the surrounding communities.