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KY Master Small Ruminant Classes > KY Master Small Ruminant Nutrition 

Nutrition is the #1 most important part of your small ruminant operation. Understanding basic physiology, feed stuffs, nutrient requirements, and ration balancing are key components to managing your feed bill. Dr. Don Ely, University and Kentucky, and Dr. Andrew Weaver, North Carolina State University, team up to provide a comprehensive small ruminant nutrition course.


This course has lifetime access and a certificate of completion option.

You can also test to get a Certificate of Completion. A score of 80% or higher is required to receive certification. 


This course is best suited for producers who:

  • have been in the business for more than 5 years

  • who want to learn more about nutrient requirements and how they are impacted by production stages

  • who are interested in feeding their own rations

  • who are interested in determining the efficiency of their pastures' forage capacity


Head Shot.jpg

Andrew Weaver

Extension Specialist, Small Ruminants

North Carolina State University

  • B.S. in Animal Science in 2015, Michigan State University

  • M.S. in 2017 at Virginia Tech

  • PhD at West Virginia University

Currently Assistant Professor and Extension Small Ruminant Specialist


Dr. Don Ely

Professor, Sheep Coordinator and Ruminant Nutrition

University of Kentucky

Sample Videos

Have Questions?

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This course includes:


Digestive Physiology of Small Ruminants- Dr. Don Ely describes the parts of the small ruminant digestive system and compares the capacity of each.


Cud Chewing- the digestive functions that small ruminants can do compared to monogastrics.​


Digestion of Feedstuffs- explains how each part of the digestive system absorbs nutrients from feed.

Rumen Reticulum Development- explains when and how the rumen-reticulum develops and how that effects nutrients absorbed at different ages of the animal.

Reading Tags:

How to Read a Mineral Tag- Dr. Katherine VanValin, University of Kentucky, explains how to read a mineral tag and how to determine if a mineral is meeting nutritional requirements.

How to Read a Feed Tag- Dr. Andrew Weaver explains how to read a feed tag and how to look for more uncommon information.

Nutrient Requirements of Sheep and Goats- explains how to feed different feedstuffs with varying nutrient compositions to meet changing nutritional requirements of sheep and goats.


Additional practice in working with the nutrient requirements of sheep are provided by Dr. Don Ely:

Nutrient Requirements Based on Stage of Production- explains how nutrient requirements of sheep change based on stage of production.

Amount of Nutrients Required by Sheep per Day- explains how to determine the amount of nutrients needed per sheep per day.

Meeting the Nutrient Needs in Late Gestation- Dr. Don Ely explains how to determine if your late gestation ration is meeting the nutrient requirements of your ewes.

Supplement: Alfalfa and Grain Mix Ration for Late Gestation- Dr. Don Ely provides another late gestation ration using alfalfa hay and a grain mix, and walks through the steps of determining if the ration meets the nutrient requirements of ewes in late gestation expecting twins.


Introduction to Ration Balancing- Dr. Andrew Weaver gives an overview of the sections for balancing rations.

Part 1: Predicting Dry Matter Intake- explains how to predict dry matter intake, which is used in determining if nutrient requirements are met.

Part 2: Determining is Nutrient Requirements are Met- explains how to determine if a ration meets the nutrient requirements of goats in different stages of production.

Part 3: Nutrient Content of Fresh Forages-  explains how to determine if fresh forages can meet nutrient requirements of goats at different stages of production.

Part 4: Grazier’s Math- discusses grazier's math and how we can utilize the principals of supply and demand from a forage basis to design our grazing systems.

Part 5: Concentrate Feeds- gives a summary of available feedstuffs and considerations to make when creating rations.

Part 6: Analyzing Feed Costs- explains how to determine the costs of energy and crude protein in both our concentrate feeds and hay in order to find the least expensive feed rations.

Part 7: Feeding Kids- discusses nutritional considerations for feeding growing kids.

Part 8: Determining Cost of Gain- explains how to determine the cost of gain and how to utilize that metric to determine when to sell market kids.

Thank You to Our Partners

University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension
KY Proud
Kentucky State University
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