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Southwest Virginia Agricultural Research and Extension Center

Southwest Virginia Agricultural Research and Extension Center

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Latest AREC updates

The Virginia Tech Southwest Agricultural Research and Extension Center (SWAREC) is celebrating Virginia Ag Week (June 13-19). With recent support from the State, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and the Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station, SWAREC will be purchasing additional technologies, upgrading internet capacity, and addressing infrastructure needs. These improvements will further advance our nationally recognized hair sheep research program and other research and Extension programs. Since 1999, work at the SWAREC has been instrumental in the development of Estimated Breeding Values (EBV’s) for Katahdin hair sheep.  Most notably, a fecal egg count EBV has enhanced researchers’ abilities in evaluating parasite resistance and overall health, and immune function of these animals, decreasing the need for additional drug use.  The center's work with the Katahdin breed has also lead the way to have the first genomic enhanced EBV's in the sheep industry.

Our 1950’s infrastructure will be improved and modernized.  The addition of smart feeding equipment will assist faculty in evaluating hair sheep for feed efficiency traits within the breed. This will serve as a critical component in assisting producers to more readily supply a growing demand for lamb in the east coast food supply chain, serving both the traditional and ethnic markets seeking this product.

SWAREC is a SmartFarm Innovation Network® testbed for the Virginia Tech Center for Advanced Innovation in Agriculture.


Welcome to the Southwest Virginia Agricultural Research and Extension Center, located in Glade Spring, Va.

The AREC has become the key site for hair sheep research at Virginia Tech.  It is home to the Southwest Virginia Forage-based Ram Test. The ram test is the only program in the U.S. evaluating rams through a forage-based performance test designed specifically to quantify post-weaning growth and parasite resistance.  The test provides a mechanism for which ram lambs can be evaluated among their peers from other flocks in a standardized environment. It also results in an offering of outstanding ram lambs for sale with a vast amount of production data collected. 

The flock of ewes at the Center is utilized by graduate students for various projects, their offspring are entered into the National Sheep Improvement Program database for genetic evaluation and performance, and starting in 2018 the AREC began a collaborative research project with WVU, University of Nebraska and USDA, to begin genomics testing of the Katahdin breed.

The Southwest Virginia AREC maintains a strong program in value-added, forage-based, cattle growing systems for beef cattle, which include a heifer development project and a backgrounded stocker calf project to meet Virginia Quality Assured Program standards.  

Local Extension agents utilize the AREC for corn silage and corn grain research demonstration plots, along with cool season, warm season, annual grasses & hybrid grass plots.  Research is conducted in cooperation with the Virginia Department of Forestry on Christmas trees, pine species, and hardwood plantings. Various other pasture research and demonstration plots for fertilization and weed control are also conducted.  

The AREC hosts field days and tours for groups of producers and the general public of all ages, to introduce them to its programs, and the world of agriculture in Southwest Virginia.

Rams from Ram Test


  • Beef cattle production and heifer development
  • Sheep production management
  • Genetics and parasite resistance evaluations
  • Forage production and livestock nutrition
  • Corn grain and corn silage variety trials
  • Christmas tree production
  • Pasture management


  • Sheep genetic evaluation software
  • Electronic animal ID data collection
  • Apps for data collection and management
  • Apps to map land use
  • Weather station with real-time weather data


  • 210 acres
  • 4 barns, 3 equipment/hay storage facilities
  • Multi-purpose ram test barn and educational facility
  • Beef cattle handling facility
  • Permanent and portable sheep handling facilities


  • Beef cattle industry
  • Sheep industry
  • Seed industry
  • Chemical companies

AREC Fact Sheet

Southwest Virginia AREC Fact Sheet
AREC Fact Sheet
Partly Cloudy Glade Spring, VA: Partly Cloudy. 85.0 F (29.7 C) 6:55 pm EDT

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