• FAQ: Agritourism on Your Farm

    Educational or recreational activities on your farm, u-pick operations, wedding facilities, and other events can be wonderful ways to deepen the connection between farmers, customers, and community. Agritourism ventures can build buyer loyalty, increase sales, and increase peoples’ understanding of where their food comes from—all while helping the public understand why sustainable farming is important! Like all other farm enterprise activities, agritourism ventures have risks. Good risk management can help maximize the value of farm events while minimizing any legal risks of the venture. The questions below are an excellent place to start in striking that balance. more »
  • Farmer’s Guide to Sole Proprietorships and General Partnerships

    Sole proprietorships and general partnerships are the easiest business entities to set up and maintain. In fact, nothing is actually required to create them. You may already be operating one without even knowing it! For example, if you own your farm operation and you’re not on an employer’s regular payroll for the work you do, you are automatically a sole proprietor. If you and a friend or a group friends are doing it together, you are automatically a general partnership. It may very well be that you want to maintain this simplicity and are not at all interested in officially forming a business entity. This chapter highlights some risks involved in keeping your farm operation as a sole proprietorship or general partnership, as well as things you can do to protect your interests along the way. more »
  • Alpaca Behaviour

    Many alpaca owners have come to the fascinating world of alpacas with very limited experience of any kind of animals, or their behaviour, either as a group or as individuals. Some new owners or breeders with small herds have run into problems with young males, which may be a nuisance at first, but which can quickly develop into a more serious situation. This may happen when alpacas are given the wrong kind of attention and petting from their owners, or when they are allowed to intrude into the owners’ personal space because the behaviour is seen as ‘cute’. In due course, the alpaca may try to start dominating the human, in the same way as it would start challenging for its place in the herd. In order to make more effective management decisions with our animals, we need to understand their behaviour from their point of view. more »
  • Is Fibre Diameter Variation Along the Staple a Good Indirect Selection Criterion for Staple Strength?

    The coefficient of variation of fibre diameter (CVFD) within the mid-side fleece sample is currently used to predict staple strength (SS) in Merino sheep (4.5 year old ewes). CVFD measures fibre diameter variation both between fibres and along wool fibres. It has been suggested that selection to improve staple strength should concentrate on reducing fibre diameter ariation along the staple, rather than CVFD. Our results indicate that measurements of fibre diameter variability along the staple had low heritabilities to moderate (0.01 to 0.20) and a low to moderate (0.15 to -0.43) phenotypic correlation with staple strength. In comparison, CVFD was highly heritable (0.78) and had a moderate (-0.44) phenotypic correlation with S. This suggests that there would be no advantage in using measures of fibre diameter variability along the staple as an indirect selection criterion for SS compared with the information provided by CVFD measured in a mid-side fleece sample. more »
  • Environmental Responsiveness of Fibre Diameter in Grazing Fine Wool Merino Sheep

    Fibre diameter, fibre length, and the ratio of fibre length growth to mean fibre diameter (L/D), fibre diameter profile characteristics, and staple strength were examined in 16 fine wool Merino wethers in a 12-month field experiment. Variations in fibre diameter, fibre length, and L/D were shown to be associated with fibre diameter profile characteristics and staple strength. At constant fibre diameter, L/D was significantly positively related to variation in fibre diameter along the staple. A positive correlation between seasonal variation in L/D and variation in diameter between fibres was also observed. Staple length was significantly positively correlated with along-staple variation in fibre diameter and negatively correlated with variation in fibre diameter among fibres. Among-fibre variation in fibre diameter was not significantly correlated with along-staple variation in fibre diameter. Seasonal variation in fibre length growth, fibre diameter, and the ratio of length to diameter throughout the year was associated with increased variation in fibre diameter along the fibre diameter profile and reduced staple strength in grazing sheep. Seasonal variation in fibre diameter was mostly related to mean fibre diameter, L/D, and seasonal variation in fibre length growth rate. Changes in fibre diameter throughout the year were also related to seasonal changes in body weight, fat depth, and skin thickness. more »