Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team
During this past weekend, shepherds from Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia gathered for the annual Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium sponsored by the Ohio Sheep Improvement Association (OSIA). This years program theme was ‘Improving profitability of the sheep operation.’ Per usual, the event took place at the Shisler Conference Center at the Ohio Agriculture and Development Center (OARDC) in Wooster, Ohio.
To kick off the event, Dr. Woody Lane of Roseburg, Oregon was the sole speaker of the Shepherd’s college on Friday, November 30th. Dr. Lane covered an array of topics including management intensive grazing (MIG), utilization of grazing tools, and producer study groups. Dr. Lane first focused on the basics of animal grazing. Some important reminders such as managing your forages based up weight of dry matter available, understanding the correlation between forage mass and forage height, and the 4 different phases of grazing were discussed. One important note that Dr. Lane was sure to highlight was the 4 basic rules of MIG that everyone should know. First and foremost, when grazing, be sure to graze animals in Phase II (see figure). The only time that it is considered acceptable to graze into Phase I is during the spring when there is a lot of fast growing lush pasture. When deciding when to remove animals from a specific paddock, be sure to leave plenty of residual (~800-1000 lbs. of dry matter / acre).
It is important to protect forage regrowth, the first 5 days after the most recent grazing event are the most important. This is when the forages repair themselves. When using MIG, be sure to move water and minerals with the animals. This method increases nutrient distribution and decrease time and energy spent traveling to these resources. Remember, hoses are your friends in this situation! Dr. Lane concluded the day with that in a grazing system, shepherds are raising grass and just using sheep to manage it. Certainly an important note to remember!
After Dr. Lanes presentations, while most in attendance were either heading home or off to dinner, young shepherds headed to the second annual Young Shepherd’s Assembly. Sponsored by the Ohio Sheep and Wool program (OSWP), the Young Shepherd’s Assembly Program was open to shepherds of age 18-40 and covered topics related to Farming finances. During the event, young shepherds had the opportunity to network with one another and was able to meet and talk with the events invited guests. A representative from Farm Credit Services Mid-America and OSU Extensions very own Christine Gelley shared and reviewed a mock business plan, the basics to finances, and a farm balance sheet. Attendees of this years event walked away with a better understanding of what it takes to run an agriculture business and when necessary how to secure and utilize borrowed money.
The weekend events were far from being over as Saturday future a full day full of sheep management practices, and update on OSU sheep research, manure management, and much more. Saturdays events were started with the OSIA Annual Meeting. After the business session, Roger High, OSIA and OSWP Executive Director, gave a brief welcome. Dr. John Foltz, Chair for the Department of Animal Sciences, helped shed some light on the recent sale of the sheep farm in Columbus on West Case Road. Dr. Foltz stressed the importance of sheep to the college of Food, Agriculture, and Envrionmental Sciences at The Ohio State University and shared that the sheep flock will remain in Columbus at the Beef facility on the opposite side of West Case Road. In addition to the morning announcements, Dr. Mark Lyons with USDA-APHIS gave an update on the USDA Scrapie Program.
At the conclusion of the morning sessions, the first round of break out sessions were put into place. Symposium attendees had the opportunity to visit with Dr. Woody Lane as he presented on basic sheep nutrition while covering minerals and vitamins; an OSU/OARDC research update with Drs. Ale Relling and Liz Parker; or partake in a discussion with Doug Billman and Rory Lewandowski to cover nutrient and manure management. During the afternoon breakout sessions, Dr. Woody Lane presented on artificial rearing of lambs, early weaning, and current technology being used in the industry; more OSU/OARDC sheep research with Dr. Tony Parker and myself; or a discussion on wool with sheep and wool producer Letty Klein from Michigan. In between breakout sessions, a lamb lunch was provided that was prepared by The Ohio State Universities Meat Science Club with an awards program to follow. The highlight of the awards program feature Mr. Dave Burkhart, the 2018 recipient of the Charles Boyles Master Shepherd’s award. For a full listing of all award recipients, please visit the Ohio’s Country Journals BSS recap article. In addition, Ohio has been fortunate enough to have had two producers embark on sheep production trips to expand their knowledge on sheep production. Rodger Sharp gave a brief presentation on his time spent in South Dakota on the 2018 Howard Wyman Sheep Leadership School. Rebecca Miller also shared her experiences on her trip that she took down under while partaking in the Australia LambEx program.
As a means to keep Ohio’s shepherds informed upon what Ohio State is doing for them, here is a brief summary on the current happens at OSU in the realm of sheep research. Dr. Ale Relling presented on his focus of fetal programming and fatty acid supplementation. His research has demonstrated that there is a benefit to feeding specific fatty acids during specific times during gestation. From an economic perspective, producers may be able to utilize fatty acid supplementation to their advantage to add a greater value to their feeder lambs. A research summary of Dr. Relling’s research will be available on the page soon. Dr. Liz Parker gave an overview on antibiotic resistance. How it occurs and the problems behind it. Dr. Tony Parker introduced new a new program offered by the department of Animal Sciences. The Center for Human and Animal Interactions Research and Education (CHAIRE), is a newly developed program that allows students to understand the complexity of these types of interactions, such as the interaction between livestock and natural predators for example. To wrap up the days session, I presented an overview of my current PhD work. We are focusing on the sustainability of grass-fed lamb in the eastern United States. We are developing and implementing novel and known parasite management practices. For example, as a means to reduce the negative effects associated with parasitic infection, we are studying the grazing of fall born lambs on annual pastures. Think about the temperature during the fall, do parasites thrive in those conditions? Also, are parasites able to migrate up the stem and leaf of a turnip as they do in grasses? This is just the tip of the iceberg with all of the projects that we have in line.
Once again, Ohio shows it support of the American sheep industry by providing another excellent sheep event to provide producers with the information and tools needed to be successful in any sheep operation. As the Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium heads back to the drawing board, please feel free to contact me with ideas and suggestions that you would like to see during next years event! In addition, be sure to save the date as next year’s Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium is slated for December 13th and 14th at the the Shisler Conference Center at the Ohio Agriculture and Development Center (OARDC) in Wooster, Ohio.