The Dutchess County Sheep and Wool Growers Association promotes and develops the sheep industry in the Hudson Valley. Whether you are a breeder of wool or meat breed sheep, spinner, weaver, 4-H member, youth or a lover of wool and fiber, this organization is for you.
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Mail to: The Dutchess County Sheep and Wool Growers Association
P.O Box 415
Red Hook, NY 12571
Our 501(c)3 educational mission:
- To promote “Lamb & Wool”
- To promote Local Sheep Breeders
- To provide current educational information in our field
- To provide links to resources in related web sites
- To feature local Products and Livestock
- Blaine Burnett, President
- Jeff Traver, Vice President
- Mike Gates, Treasurer
- Mary Drumm, Recording Secretary
- Sara Healy, Festival Chair
- Margey Hedges
- Bruce McCord
- Sue Rugar
- Heidi Simmons
- Mary Stephens
- Sten Wilson
- Open Seat!
4-H Club Representatives
Red Hook, NY (Golden Fleece)
Fair Board Representative
Salt Point, NY
Sheep and Wool Festival Chairperson
To join, you have 2 options:
1) PLEASE APPLY ONLINE:
Fill Out the Online Form
2) Print and complete the enrollment information below and mail to:
Sten Wilson, Membership Chair
PO Box 415
Red Hook, NY 12571
PDF to PRINT THIS APPLICATION FORM
SHEEP INDUSTRY IN DUTCHESS COUNTY
(excerpts from article by Richard Dunn & William J. Sepe)
Sheep first came to Dutchess County on ships from England. These first sheep were mainly Merinos. The ship filled with sheep stopped at docks along the Hudson River, and the sheep were sold to the Dutch settlers.
Sheep were used mainly on the farmsteads for meat and wool. The dual productivity of sheep made them one of the most important farm animals. In 1803, a man named George Booth, brought a machine to the area that could clean, card and comb wool. He set up two factories, one in Poughkeepsie and one in Wappingers Falls. He would buy wool from the local residents, prepare it for spinning, and then he would pay the house-wives to spin and weave the wool. By 1828, the wool manufacturing industry was the biggest in Dutchess County, employing 400 people.
As population increased in the county and throughout the state the demand for wool increased accordingly so that by 1845, the raising of sheep was a very profitable undertaking. There were about 200,000 sheep in Dutchess County during those years, and New York State is said to have had 25 percent of all the sheep in the United States.
In 1806, the Dutchess Agricultural Society was formed, and in 1809, the first Dutchess County Fair was held. These county fairs, with their emphasis on cattle and sheep, helped to make sheep raising very popular.
In 1836, the average flock on a Dutchess County farm ranged anywhere from 300 to 1000 sheep, and on a particular farm in Lithgow, owned by Judge Isaac Smith, there were 6000 sheep being raised.
The period from 1840 to 1860 showed a large growth of sheep throughout the US, particularly in the west, and during this time the large amounts of wool coming into Dutchess County markets forced the price of wool downward so that the profit for the sheep farmers dwindled. This wool competition, and the killing of many sheep by roving packs of dogs, caused greater losses to the farmers. Later on, the springing up of cotton mills in the eastern and northeastern parts of the country increased the competition for wool and the sheep industry went downward as farmers changed from sheep to Angus steers and dairy farming. At this time, there were 10,000 families on farms.
In New York State, there were 63,000 sheep and lambs on farms as of January 1, 1979, down 5 percent from 1978 and the lowest since 1867.
Today, most of the sheep in the county are raised in small flocks. Sheep are being raised by wool and meat producers, as 4-H livestock projects or by people who just enjoy owning sheep.
Sheep in general are easier to raise and more profitable on a comparative basis with other farm animals and have been the most valuable animals for mankind since prehistoric times.