This is an interdisciplinary thesis project with advisors associated with the Cal Poly Animal Science and Sociology departments, as well as University of California Cooperative Extension. With the cooperation of the California Woolgrower’s Association, I am conducting quantitative and qualitative research assessing the state of the sheep and goat contract-grazing industry within California through a series of surveys and in-depth interviews with participating producers. With the results of these surveys, I aim to identify successful practitioners of contract-grazing throughout the state, identify commonalities, and construct a series of management recommendations for established sheep and goat producers who wish to purse contract-grazing as an alternate source of revenue for their businesses. With the decreased viability of the wool, fiber, and lamb industries in the United States, established sheep and goat producers are searching for production alternatives. In addition, interest in contract-grazing for fire abatement has grown over the last few years with the increased prevalence of fires occurring throughout the state of California. I am investigating the barriers to entry into contract-grazing, specifically for fire prevention and abatement, by established California sheep and goat producers - focusing on the transition to new business models and necessary changes in the decision-making process by producers new to working closely with government agencies and NGOs. Ultimately, the purpose of the project is to: 1) Evaluate the current state of the contract-grazing industry within the state of California 2) Look for commonalities among successful contract-grazing practitioners 3) Identify outstanding barriers to entry into the contract-grazing business 4) Provide sheep and goat producers with tangible management recommendations on the practicality of entering the contract-grazing business as an alternative to conventional sheep and goat production
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