January 21 – April 29, 2020

Instructor: Nicole Burton ngburton@umass.edu (413) 429-6544

Class Description:

This course is a farmer’s perspective on the sustainable management of cows, sheep and goats on a small farm. It provides students with a clear understanding of how to think through the planning and management of cows, sheep and goats for meat production. All aspects from purchasing and nutrition to marketing and finances will be addressed. This course also brings awareness to our meat industry and supports becoming an educated consumer and producer. Students will get the opportunity to focus on the animal(s) of their interest through assignments, but will be educated on cow, sheep and goats through the material presented. Students will walk away with a rudimentary plan on how to incorporate ruminants into their small farm plan.

Learning Objectives/ Course Goals:

Students will gain the knowledge related to the planning and management of a diversified livestock farm for meat production. Specifically, students will adopt the following practices

  • Identify and utilize sustainable management practices for livestock
  • Develop critical thinking skills on designing and implementing systems on a small farm
  • Understand the rules and regulations of running a livestock farm business
  • Comprehension of the complete life cycle management of ruminants for meat production
Week 1 · Class Overview


· Who we all are

Readings #1
Week 2 · Selecting & Purchasing Breeds Assignment #1


Reading #2

Week 3 · Housing


· Fencing

· Predator Control

Readings #3


Assignment #2

Week 4 · Grass farming


· Rotational grazing

· Multi-species grazing

· Haymaking

Assignment #3


Reading #4

Week 5 · Health and Nutrition Reading #5


Week 6

· Breeding


· Gestation

Reading #6
Week 7 · Birthing


· Raising young ruminants

Reading #7


Assignment #4

Week 8 · Illness and Disease


· Parasite Control

Reading #8
Week 9 · Integration of ruminants into farming systems Assignment#5


Reading #9

Week 10 · Slaughter


· Products

Assignment #6


Reading #10

Week 11 · Record Keeping


· Certifications

Final Project outline Due
Week 12 · Marketing Assignment #8


Reading #11

Week 13 · Farm Finances and Structures Reading #12


Farm visit Assignment Due

Week 14 · Recap on class


· Presentations & Reviews

Final Project Due


Meat Consumption Reflection Due


Written Assignments:

All written assignments will be focusing on the animal(s) of your choice (cow, sheep or goat) and all material is to be submitted on Blackboard. If they are not submitted by the due date then there will be 2 points deducted for each day thereafter.

Readings Reflections:

Each week you will have an article or document to read and you will be responsible to write up a quick reflection. This reflection can be your personal reaction, your like or dislike of the article or the important information that you have taken from the material presented. A paragraph will suffice.


Most weeks we will have a discussion forum on a specific topic. This will be our opportunity to create a dialog around topics of interest and concern and to learn from each other.

Farm Visit & Blog Entry:

This is your opportunity to get out into your community and explore farms of your interest. After your farm visit you will be responsible to recap the highlights on the systems used at that particular farm. There will be a personal reflection and observation paper then the material needs to be into a condensed blog post. The blog post must include pictures. If no farms are available, we may discuss other options

Readings Reflections:

Each week you will have an article or document to read and you will be responsible to write up a quick reflection. This reflection can be your personal reaction, your like or dislike of the article or the important information that you have taken from the material presented. A paragraph will suffice.

Final Project and presentation:

There will be a couple of options for the final project. Since the majority of the assignments are focused on building a farm plan, the first option will be your opportunity to share your dream farm. Using your individual assignments to support this assignment you will present your farm to the class. The second option is to do a research project on a topic of your interest. It could be something that we have covered in class, but you would like to go into more depth or it could be a brand new topic. This presentation must have visuals, so PowerPoint, google slides, etc will be mandatory. You will be graded on clarity, presentation, and use of time. You will also have a short paper to summarize the material that you will present.

Required Text Book

  • The Art and Science of Grazing: How Grass Farmers Can Create Sustainable Systems for Healthy Animals and Farm Ecosystems, by Sarah Flack, $33.95

Highly Recommended

  • The New Livestock Farmer: The Business of Raising and Selling Ethical Meat, by Recca Thistlethwaite and Jim Dunlop, 2015, Cost $29.95


  • Storey’s Guide to Raising Beef Cattle, 3rd Edition:Health, Handling & Breeding, by Heather Smith Thomas, Storey Publishing 2009, Cost $15.25
  • Grass-Fed Cattle: How to produce and Market Natural Beef, by Julius Ruechel. Storey Publishing, 2006, Cost $24.95
  • Storey’s Guide to Raising Sheep, Breeding, Care, Facilities, 4th edition by Carol Ekarius&Paula Simmons, Storey Publishing 2009, Cost $17.20
  • Storey’s Guide to Raising Meat Goats :Managing, Breeding, Marketing, 2nd Edition by Maggie Sayer, Storey Publishing 2010, Cost $16.50

Academic Honesty

No form of cheating, plagiarism, fabrication, or facilitating of dishonesty will be condoned in the University community. Academic dishonesty includes but is not limited to:

  • Cheating – intentional use or attempted use of trickery, artifice, deception, breach of confidence, fraud and/or misrepresentation of one’s academic work
  • Fabrication – intentional and unauthorized falsification and/or invention of any information or citation in any academic exercise
  • Plagiarism – knowingly representing the words or ideas of another as one’s own work in any academic exercise. This includes submitting without citation, in whole or in part, prewritten term papers of another or the research of another, including but not limited to commercial vendors who sell or distribute such materials
  • Facilitating dishonesty – knowingly helping or attempting to help another commit an act of academic dishonesty, including substituting for another in an examination, or allowing others to represent as their own one’s papers, reports, or academic works

Sanctions may be imposed on any student who has committed an act of academic dishonesty. Any person who has reason to believe that a student has committed academic dishonesty should bring such information to the attention of the course instructor as soon as possible. Formal definitions of academic dishonesty, examples of various forms of dishonesty, and the procedures which faculty must follow to penalize dishonesty are contained in the Academic Honesty Policy.


This class fulfills requirements for all three of the online programs offered by the University of Massachusetts Stockbridge School of Agriculture in Sustainable Food and Farming: