UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Beef, sheep, meat-goat and swine producers looking for information on how to make their livestock enterprises more profitable can take advantage of four home-study courses offered by Penn State Extension this winter.
The courses, all of which begin Feb. 1, will cover profit-enhancing production principles for raising beef, sheep, meat goats and swine. Lessons are available through conventional mail delivery or through email and the internet. The sheep, meat-goat and swine courses each have six weekly lessons; the beef course has seven lessons.
Lesson topics include production basics, selection principles (beef), nutrition, health, reproduction, marketing and financial issues. Each lesson has information about the topic and a worksheet for producers to complete and mail or email back to Penn State Extension for comments. Producers also can submit questions they would like to have answered.
"Each course is a great way for producers to learn new information without having to rearrange their schedule to accommodate a meeting," said Melanie Barkley, an extension educator based in Bedford County, who is coordinating the courses. "Producers can study the lessons at their leisure in their own home. The courses are designed for beginning producers and for those who wish to start a livestock operation in the future."
Worksheet questions are designed to assist producers with analyzing their current operation. Course instructors address comments to participants' individual situations to better help them improve their management skills.
According to Barkley, more than 2,100 producers from across the country have taken one or more of the courses.
"Producers' comments following completion of the courses show that information offered in the courses was very beneficial for them," she said. "Producers are able to adapt the information for use in their own operations."