OSU Sheep Center Animal Health and Safety

The OSU Sheep Center is located on 600 acres of hillside pastures four miles west of campus on Oak Creek Drive. The center maintains a 100-ewe breeding flock for research and teaching. The Sheep Center adheres to the strictest policies to provide the flock with clean, safe housing and access to securely fenced pastures.

The university is fully accredited by the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC); procedures at the Sheep Center adhere firmly to the Guide for the Care and Use of Agricultural Animals in Research and Teaching (FASS 2010). OSU’s Laboratory Animal Resources Center oversees the care and veterinary services of the sheep and of all vertebrate animals used in instruction and research at OSU, in compliance with the U.S. Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals and the USDA Animal Welfare Act Regulations.

In addition, the well-being and safety of the Sheep Center’s flock is watched over by OSU’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee – a group of researchers, veterinarians, ethicists, and interested public who meet monthly to review every aspect of research and teaching with animals. Their work ensures that the Sheep Center’s flock is healthy, well cared for, and safely protected using nationally approved practices.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) Wildlife Services program provides the Sheep Center’s predator control services, as warranted by predator pressure, location, and site characteristics. This federally and state approved predator control program does not involve OSU personnel. 

The Sheep Center employs non-lethal methods as a first line of defense against predation. Non-lethal deterrents in place at the Center include:

  • perimeter fencing
  • interior fencing
  • electrical fencing (two types)
  • portable net fencing
  • motion-sensor lighting systems
  • guard llamas
  • onsite personnel (students/researchers in residence 24 hours a day during lambing season)

Lambs and young sheep are particularly susceptible to predation.  To protect the flock, the USDA-APHIS program places snares on interior fences as a last line of defense, well within the Sheep Center boundary. No snares are placed on perimeter fences where dogs or people would be affected; warning signs are posted at the front gate entrance and at the site of snares.

The Sheep Center is staffed by the center supervisor, three student employees, and up to 40 animal sciences and pre-vet-med students who volunteer during lambing season.