Tactics to Win the Battle Against Foot Rot

Richard Ehrhardt, Michigan State University Extension Specialist, Small Ruminants
(Previously published on MSU Extension, Sheep & Goat: January 28, 2020)

This article discusses the difference between foot rot and foot scald and how to prevent and treat it.

Foot rot is arguably the costliest disease in the sheep and goat industry in high rainfall areas of the USA (>30 inches per year) and has contributed greatly to the view that sheep and goat production are labor intensive. Animals become severely lame when infected and cannot graze easily or get to the feed bunk. This results in poor growth, poor conception and greatly increased risk for metabolic diseases such as pregnancy toxemia. Foot rot-free status provides producers options to sell replacement breeding stock for high value. Conditions for successful eradication improve as the soil dries during the summer and early fall. Eradication efforts also require a significant labor investment, so one should be sure to plan for this for the program to succeed. Continue reading

Forage Species Selection and Alternatives for Ohio

With several of us on quarantine, you may have a bit more time on your hands to think about how you will renovate your pastures this year or perhaps work on that new hay seeding that you have been putting off for the past few years. Regardless of your situation, developing a comprehensive understanding of forage species is key for optimal forage establishment and on-farm utilization. Although this recording is a bit dated, it still contains a lot of useful information in terms of forage specie types and their uses. Enjoy!

Sheep Update: Creep Feeding Lambs

Dr. Scott Greiner, Extension Animal Scientist – Sheep, Virginia Tech
(Previously published on the Virginia Cooperative Extension web page)

(Image Source: Ketcham’s Sheep Equipment)

Creep feeding young lambs while still nursing the ewe can provide valuable supplemental weight gain. This added weight gain has the most economic value for lambs managed in an intensive, early weaning production system where lambs will be maintained in a dry-lot. Conversely, for lambs that will be developed on pasture throughout the spring and summer, creep feeding would be of less value due to the relative expense of this early weight gain. Creep feeding also is beneficial for flocks with a high number of multiple births, or flocks with ewes having limited milk production.

Young lambs may be started on creep feed as early as 10 days of age. Although significant amounts of feed are normally not consumed until 3-4 weeks of age, providing access to creep feed at an early age allows lambs to develop a habit of eating dry feed, and helps Continue reading

Grass Cover Crops; Bargain Feed or Bedding?

Jason Hartschuh, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Crawford County and Stan Smith, OSU Extension PA, Fairfield County
(Previously published on Ohio Farmer: February 27, 2020)

(Image Source: NRCS-USDA)

With somewhere around 1.5 million acres that were not planted last spring to the intended crops of corn or soybeans due to the extraordinary weather, today, Ohio farmers likely have more acres of cereal rye planted for cover than at any time in previous history. At the same time, cattlemen and livestock owners are facing forage shortages that rival the drought of 2012. Adding insult to injury, the inventory of straw bedding is similarly very short, and will likely remain so until at least mid-summer.

With the opportunity for newly harvested forages still 2 or 3 months away, and straw even further out, perhaps it’s time to take a look at the opportunity for realizing either feed or bedding from cereal rye, or maybe even one of our other biennial grass crops. Continue reading

Benefits of Accelerated Sheep Production

Last week we highlighted the topic of rearing lambs artificially and how this may be more common than one may think in highly prolific and accelerated systems. This week we thought that it would be beneficial to introduce some of these accelerated lambing systems. Sponsored by the American Sheep Industry’s Let’s Grow program, Dr. Richard Ehrhardt with Michigan State University tours four accelerated flocks across the nation and discusses the benefits and challenges of these systems. Be sure to check this quick clip out!

Artificial Lamb Rearing

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

Artificial lamb rearing: Transitioning from nuisance to potential profit center.

(Image Source: Balancing Rock Farm)

Let’s face it, every shepherd has experienced at least once the joys and pains of raising orphan lambs. Raising lambs artificially may be the result of mis-mothering, losing a ewe due to health and/or birthing complications, lack of colostrum, lambs that can’t be cross fostered, or simply due to ewes giving birth to larger litters. Yes – you read that correctly, some sheep breeds have litters! Raising lambs artificially can be challenging as it becomes a full time job. To avoid digestive upset, young lambs should be fed in small meals multiple times per day just as they would with the ewe. However, this may not always be practical for the producer. When this becomes the case, these lambs may be consider a nuisance to some. However, Continue reading

Be Careful on When to Start Grazing

Chris Penrose, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Morgan County

Be careful on when to start grazing: you may not want to rush it and we may need to fix it.

One goal I have had with livestock grazing over the years is to start as soon as I can. I have my  spring calving cows on stockpiled grass now and they are calving on a nice sod. It is my hope that I will not have to feed them any more hay. Many years this works and some years it does not. On my farm, grass has started to grow.

If March continues like the way it is going, I suggest we don’t rush things as we have a couple issues that could be going on. First, growth is a little slow this spring, and second, many pastures have sustained abnormal damage this winter from the wet conditions we are still having. If you have fields that were Continue reading

Ag-note: Vaccinating with CDT

Kelvin Moore, Sade Payne, Elizabeth Spahr, OSU Animal Science Undergraduate Students
Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

CDT Vaccine: When, How, and Why
** Follow the link above to view the Ag-note.

(Image Source: Valleyvet.com)

With all that is happening in our world today,  it may be easy to over look some of the day-to-day management practices on-farm and think that they may be able to wait just a few more days or not at all. As we are aware, the best precautionary steps in avoiding any disease is to vaccinate. Therefore, this week we have decided to re-visit an Ag-note posted a few years back from OSU students Kelvin Moore, Sade Payne, and Elizabeth Spahr to highlight the importance of a sound vaccination program using the CDT vaccine. Continue reading

Good Choices on Rams Now Translates to Good Flock Production Later

James Thompson, Sheep Specialist (retired), Oregon State University
(Previously published on with the Oregon State University Extension Service)

There is no room for snap judgments when selecting breeding sheep. Next year’s lamb crop depends on our choices now. Take the time and the gas to drive around and look at prospects. Always keep your improvement plan in mind; choose only rams and ewes that will move you toward your goal. The ram contributes 80% – 90% of the genetic improvement to the flock. A good ram does not cost—it pays. An outstanding sire can’t be purchased for market price, and you can’t expect outstanding lambs from a scrub ram. Keep the following in mind as you look at prospects: Continue reading

Pasture Species Selection for Sheep

Dan Undersander, Extension Forage Agronomist, University of Wisconsin
(Previously published on the University of Wisconsin-Madison Extension page)

Pasture and hay forage crops generally fall into four categories:

  1. Legumes
  2. Cool Season Grasses
  3. Warm Season Grasses
  4. Alternative/annual forages

The last category includes many perennials crops, such as rape, kale, comfrey, and all annual forage crops, such as sudangrass, sorghum, and various millets. None of these should be considered for sheep pasture other than in emergency situations.

Warm season grasses are generally Continue reading

Scabby (Sore) Mouth (Orf) – A Disease of Sheep and Goats

Nicky Stone, Tony Brightling, and Susan Bibby, Agriculture Victoria
(Previously published online with Agriculture Victoria)

With an abnormally warm winter, we have heard several reports of producers experiencing serve issues with sore mouth already this year. For those that have not experienced these issues, be sure to join the authors above as they outline the mode of infection and provide some insight on how to control for this disease.

Scabby mouth (contagious ecthyma, orf) is a highly contagious, viral disease of sheep, goats, and occasionally humans. This disease is a potential problem of live sheep exports [and confinement type operations] due to the close confinement of animals and the feeding of sheep with pellets and hay that cause minor abrasions to the mouth and lips. Continue reading

2020 Spring Sheep Shearing School Announced

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

The Ohio Sheep Improvement Association in conjunction with The Ohio State University Extension are pleased to announce that they will be offering a spring sheep shearing school scheduled for April 17-18, 2020 from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm at the Dave Cable Farm in Hebron, Ohio.

During this two day schooling event, attendees will be given the opportunity to learn how to properly shear a sheep using the Australian shearing method. Those in attendance Continue reading

Forage Focus: Fungal Growth in Stored Forages

In this months episode of Forage Focus, join host Christine Gelley and guest Erika Lyon as they discuss the topic of fungal growth, which can lead to animal health issues revolving around mold in stored forages. With this episode being approximately 50 minutes in length, we have provided an outline with specific time stamps below the video that can be used to find exactly what you may be looking for. Enjoy!

Continue reading

7 Common Fencing Mistakes

Alaina Burt, Editor, Beef Magazine
(Previously published in Beef Magazine: March 24, 2015)

Have your pastures began to green up with the recent warm temperatures and as a result have decide to turn your animals out onto pasture? When is the last time that you checked the fence line along the tree or property line? Do you use some form of electric fence to keep livestock in and wildlife out? As we begin to plan for the 2020 grazing season, the quality of your fence will play a huge role in the success of your grazing season.

Here are seven of the most common errors in livestock fencing, and how to avoid them.

Continue reading