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Southwest Virginia Agricultural Research and Extension Center

Welcome to The Southwest Virginia Agricultural Research and Extension Center

Image of a farm in southwest Virginia

The Southwest AREC, located in Glade Spring, VA, is the key site for hair sheep research at Virginia Tech.  It is home to the Southwest Virginia Forage-Based Ram Test, being 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.

Latest AREC updates


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