A Global Perspective on Lamb Quality

In 2019, producers from across the nation and around the world met in Ft. Collins for the first ever Lamb Summit. The goal of this event was to identify how, and why, to improve both the market and eating values of American lamb. The presentations provided below are from the the perspective of lamb producers in Australia and the United Kingdom. I encourage you to take a listen to each, you may find that lamb producers around the world are facing the same rewards and challenges. As imported lamb continues to rival our current market, maybe we as an industry can adopt some of these skills used across the globe to improve the value of American lamb.

Dr. Phil Hadley – United Kingdom

Dr. David Pethick – Australia

Continue to “Stage” Pasture into Fall

Victor Shelton, NRCS State Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

My wife has been splitting open persimmon seeds. For those who don’t know what this is supposed to mean – it is an old wives’ tale method of predicting the upcoming winter weather. For clarity, I’m not saying my wife is old, but she does like to read persimmon seeds! Traditionally, you split the persimmon seed open to reveal the whitish sprout inside. It may require a bit of imagination, but they are supposed to resemble a spoon, a fork or a knife. The spoon is said to predict lots of heavy, wet snow. A fork means you should expect a mild winter. A knife indicates an icy, windy, and bitter cold winter. Surprisingly or luckily, it is often correct. She split open several seeds this year – all were spoons.

Now, I would not bank on that information, but it is a reminder that we need to be prepared ahead of time for whatever the weather decides to throw at us.

Each year is a little different, so Continue reading

Dairy Sheep in the United States

Dairy sheep. Although not common in the United States, there is an opportunity for growth – both for the genetics of these sheep and the products that they make. Dairy influenced sheep breeds work well in commercial production systems in addition to the gourmet products that can be derived from their milk. For more details on how these sheep can be used in your operation, be sure to watch this webinar supported by the Let’s Grow Program with the American Sheep Industry.

Recap: 2021 Ohio Sheep Day

Dr. Brady Campbell, Assistant Professor, State Small Ruminant Extension Specialist

Sunflowers… Can they be used as a forage, or better yet, will sheep graze them? What about brassicas, such as turnips and radishes? If these were to be grazed, what is their feed value?  These question as well as many others were discussed at the 2021 Ohio Sheep Day held at the OARDC Small Ruminant Center in Wooster, Ohio.

Traditionally, Ohio Sheep Day is held in July, but with the uncertainty of summer programming, the 2021 Ohio Sheep Day planning committee elected to hold this years event in the fall. As noted by many in attendance, the cool, crisp weather was a nice addition to the slate of events.

Per usual, the day began with welcomes and introductions of those involved in preparing for the day. Attendees were welcomed to the university facility by many important leaders such as Dr. Anne Dorrance, Director of the Wooster Campus, and Gregg Fogle, manager of the Small Ruminant Center. At the conclusion of the opening remarks, it was off to the pastures to begin our field discussions. First on the list was Continue reading

Electric Fencing for Sheep

Gerlad Q. Fitch, Extension Sheep Specialist, Oklahoma State University
(Previously published by Oklahoma State University Extension: February, 2017)

The use of electric fencing for sheep is relatively new in the United States. Several other countries have used electric fencing with great success for several decades now. Electric fencing is more economical than standard barbed wire or hog wire fencing. Electric fencing also allows for temporary fencing to subdivide pastures, which can increase the stocking rate and forage utilization and decrease parasite problems through rotational grazing.

Why has electric fencing not caught on in the United States? The main reason is the past failures producers have experienced due to utilizing poor quality fence chargers and not understanding the basics of electric fencing. The basic principles of fence construction, grounding, and current flow must be understood to ensure correct fence design with minimal maintenance and maximum current flow.

Fence Chargers and Grounding
The major mistake that is made in electric fencing is Continue reading

Tips to Help Prevent Winter Barn Fires

Jason Hartschuh, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Crawford County
(Previously published in Farm and Dairy: November 14, 2019)

(Image Source: Farm and Dairy)

As I dig in the closet to find a few more clothes to stay warm when I go to the barn, it proves winter is rolling in fast and I had better get the barns ready.

Usually, when I think about getting barns ready for winter it is making sure I can keep drafts off the calves. There is one other big thing to think about and inspect as you prepare for winter, are there any fire hazards in your barn?

The first fire hazard that comes to mind is the six different barn heaters we run in the winter. During the summer, we shut the gas off to all these heaters to prevent a fire, especially since many of these heaters have a standing pilot light.

When it comes time to Continue reading

The Beauty of Baleage

Mike Rankin, Hay and Forage Grower managing editor
(Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: September 28, 2021)

Baleage or Failage? When feeding small ruminants, baleage management and quality have to be just right!

Baleage. Can it be fed to small ruminants? Yes, yes it can! For those that are curious about how to implement this feeding strategy into your operation, be sure to check out this quick piece from the folks at Hay & Forage Grower as well as joining us at Ohio Sheep Day this Saturday, October 2! Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.

Somewhere between the territories of making dry hay and chopping haylage is the land of baleage. Its acreage is expanding at a rate that would gain compliments from the former Macedonian king and conqueror of all things land, Alexander the Great. Of course, Alex is no longer with us to offer such kudos or much of anything else, for that matter.

As one prominent beef seedstock producer told me a few years back, “Baleage is a game changer for the beef industry.” But baleage making is not limited to beef production. Dairy producers and many custom harvesters [including those that feed sheep and goats] are also members of the Baleage Fan Club. Continue reading

Optimizing Reproductive Efficiency in Sheep Production with Strategic Nutritional Management

This hour long webinar seems to be quite timely both due to the fact that fall breeding is well under way across the nation as well as many here in the Midwest are fully emerged in fall lambing. Nutrition is key when discussing the benefits and hardships of livestock production. For those that will be joining us for Ohio Sheep Day this Saturday, October 2, I encourage you to take some time to listen to Dr. Richard Ehrhardt as he discusses how to maximize nutritional management to improve reproductive efficiency. At Ohio Sheep Day, we will be discussing alternative forage and feeding options that can be implemented on farm to achieve these needs. We look forward to seeing you then!

Meat Goat Production and Budgeting

Tony Nye, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Clinton County
Robert Moore, Extension Associate, Agriculture, Environmental, and Development Economics

Interest in meat goats has grown rapidly in Ohio over the past 10 years. Goat is the most frequently consumed meat in the world. In the United States, meat goat production is growing because of goats’ economic value as efficient converters of low-quality forages into quality meat, milk, and hide products for many specialty type markets.

A big reason for the growing popularity of meat goats in this country is the large number of ethnic groups who have settled in this country and who prefer goat meat, milk, and cheese products. The meat goat is popular for another reason. Where resources are limited, a small herd of goats may be the only livestock enterprise that a small, part-time farmer can raise efficiently and profitably and become self-sufficient. In Ohio, goats are growing in popularity as a popular 4-H or FFA youth project, and many youth are raising meat goats for breeding or show. Continue reading

Preparing for Shearing

As summer comes to a close, the fall is full of management tasks in all areas of livestock production that need to be accomplished prior to the new year. For the small ruminant industry, shearing is one of those important tasks. In this episode of Forage Focus, OSU faculty and staff emphasize the importance of pasture management when preparing for the shearing of fleeced livestock. The presence of pasture weeds and time spent grazing prior to shearing can negatively impact the value and quality of your wool clip. For more tips on how to appropriately preparing for shearing day, be sure to take a listen to this short clip. We would also like to thank the Dave Cable Farm and 2021 Statewide Sheep Shearing School participants for their help in creating this film. For those interested in participating in any of our up-coming sheep shearing courses, please watch this page for event announcements.

Improving Newborn Lamb Survival

Melanie Barkley, Livestock Extension Educator, Penn State Extension
(previously published with Penn State Extension: March 17, 2016)

Livestock market prices are very good right now and I can’t think of a better time to be more concerned about newborn lamb survival.

Even if we are talking about only five lambs, at 75 pounds per lamb and at least $2.00 a pound market value, we are looking at an overall value of $750. This can be even more when we factor in the value of breeding stock. So, let’s look at a few ways we can ensure that lambs survive past birth.

Nutrition plays a critical role in the survivability of lambs both prior to and during lambing. Sufficient nutrient levels are needed for fetal development. This includes growth of the lamb, fat reserves at birth, and vigor once that lamb is born. Nutrition also has an effect on the quality and quantity of colostrum and we all know the importance of lambs receiving colostrum as soon as possible after birth. Ewes should have adequate amounts of feed, feed that provides the correct amount of protein and energy, and a good mineral supplement to keep them healthy and allow them to produce healthy lambs that are adequate in size. Continue reading