Preparing for Lambing Season

Do you have left over lanyards from previous conventions and meetings? If so, have you ever considered some alternative uses for these on the farm? If not, be sure to check out this short 5-minute clip for the University of Kentucky on how these draw cluttering knickknacks can be beneficial in your lambing kit this year.

Tips for Improving Out-of-season Reproduction

Richard Ehrhardt, Michigan State University Extension Specialist, Small Ruminants
(Previously published on MSU Extension, Sheep & Goat: January 27, 2020)

By now, 2020 fall lambing is a task of the past with lambs weaned and either sold at the sale barn or retained for feeding. Before winter and spring lambing floods our minds, now is an appropriate time to take a minute to review the fall lambing season. For most, fall lambing in 2021 is in the far distance; however, timely planning now will foster future improvements.

This article provides tips for improving out of season reproduction in sheep.

Lamb supply is seasonal in nature and is explained largely by the seasonal nature of sheep reproduction, yet demand for product is present year-round. In order to meet market demand, deficits in supply are met by imported product and by domestic lamb feeders who hold lambs to extend the season of supply. In some parts of North America, the holding of lambs has hurt product quality, as lambs entering the market are often overly fat and mature. Another strategy to fill in gaps in supply and to avoid product quality concerns is through out-of-season lamb production. Out-of-season production allows lambs with the optimal degree of maturity to be harvested throughout the year. This strategy, when combined with a decrease in the production birth interval, is referred to as accelerated production. Accelerated production has the potential to increase production efficiency and simultaneously remove the constraint caused by seasonal supply. Continue reading

Nothing Good Happens During Hay Storage

Mike Rankin, Hay and Forage Grower managing editor
(Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: December 29, 2020)

(Image Source: Hay & Forage Grower)

Millions of tons of hay now rest in storage. The quality of this hay will range from the near equivalent of cordwood to leafy rocket fuel.

What we know for sure is that forage quality during storage never improves and can decline substantially, depending on the initial baling moisture and storage conditions.

Although it’s always a good idea to test forage as it goes into storage, it’s perhaps an even better strategy to test hay as it comes out of storage as well. The former offers an indication of what is available in inventory, and the latter allows you to know precisely what is being fed or sold. Don’t expect the

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Holiday Plant Toxicity

Dr. Leonard Perry, Horticulture Professor, University of Vermont
(Previously published by the University of Vermont Department of Plant and Soil Science: Winter Holiday News Article)

(Image Source: George Weigel)

Although this article directs most of its attention towards the ill effects of these plants on ourselves, fellow house guests, and pets; these toxic plants may find their way to your pasture field once the holiday season has passed. Be aware of your shared fence lines and how you or your neighbors are disposing of your holiday plants this year. And remember, just because other wildlife species can and will consume some of these plants doesn’t mean that they are suitable for your livestock counterparts. Winter is a critical time period as many small ruminant producers are gearing up for lambing and kidding this winter and spring. The last thing that we want to do is lose a pregnancy as a result of disposing some of these plants.

Several of our favorite holiday plants should be kept from children, pets and livestock, yet often they pose no serious danger in small amounts.  There are many other and more toxic substances to children in homes to be mindful of, especially cosmetics, cleaning products, and personal care products.

The poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima), the most popular flowering potted plant for indoors, has gotten a bum rap for a number of years. It’s been falsely accused of being poisonous, yet no deaths from this plant have ever been recorded. In fact, research studies at The Ohio State University have proven

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Neonatal Lamb Management: Intraperitoneal Injection of Dextrose (Glucose)

Adapted from ‘What You Need to Know About Lambing’ presentation by Dr. Ileana Wenger.
Article, Text, and Tables provided by: Alberta Lamb Producers Factsheet
For additional information: Consult with your local veterinarian and/or additional neonatal management resources provided by Alberta Lamb Producers.

(Image Source : Farm Advisory Service)

Most lamb deaths that occur shortly after birth are due to starvation and/or hypothermia (low body temperature). These losses are most often preventable, and lambs can be saved if problems are identified and treated quickly.

Why is timing important?

  • Newborn lambs rely on reserves of brown fat as an energy source until they ingest colostrum. Ideally, lambs will nurse and receive colostrum within two hours of birth. If feeding is delayed, even by a few hours, fat stores will be depleted. Unless the lamb nurses, or receives another source of energy, it will become unconscious and die.
  • Long-term survival also depends on receiving colostrum soon after birth, as the ability to absorb antibodies in colostrum quickly decreases. Milk or milk replacer will prevent starvation but will not protect against infections.
  • The sooner an ‘at risk’ lamb is identified, the easier the treatment and the greater the chance of saving the lamb.

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Recap: 2020 Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

For the first time in its history, the 2020 Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium was presented 100% virtually and might we add, went off without a hitch! Due to the unique format of the event, this years symposium was a one day event hosted on December 4th from 2:00 – 5:30 pm. According to our registration poll, we had well over 200 participants registered for the event – a record high for the Friday program in my time serving on the planning committee. Of our viewers in attendance, a vast majority were from the United States, but due to this unique webinar opportunity we were also able to connect with other shepherds in Canada and Argentina. Although it would have been nice to end this chaotic year visiting with our fellow shepherds in person over an Ohio lamb meal, we feel that this was an amazing alternative. For those that attended this years event, thank you! You will be receiving an email with the entire program recording, including the Q&A sessions in addition to the OSIA (Ohio Sheep Improvement Association) annual meeting. Please access and view the recording as soon as possible as it will only be available online in full for 120 days. For those that were unable to attend this years event, we have provided some program highlights below. Furthermore, presentation recordings from our guest speakers this year will be periodically shared throughout 2021 on the OSU Sheep Team webpage. Continue reading

What Benefits are Gained by Processing Grain Fed to Sheep?

Pulling from our archives, we thought that it would be appropriate to re-share this article as it is a timely piece that was shared in one of Dr. Francis Fluharty’s presentations at the 2020 Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium. We hope that you enjoy!

How does corn processing and fiber source affect feedlot lamb performance, diet digestibility, nitrogen metabolism?

Behaviorally, sheep and cattle are very different, especially in the way they eat. Sheep are more selective in their eating pattern and spend more time physically chewing and breaking down their feed than cattle do.

Regardless of the animal we are feeding, it is common practice in the livestock feed industry to process the grains fed to our animals. An issue with feeding processed grain is that due to an increase in surface area, the starches in grain become more readily available for the animal to digest. As a result, an increase in digestion may lead to metabolic issues such as acidosis in our ruminant species.

Therefore, a question of interest that arises is Continue reading

The New Tick on the Block in Ohio – Gulf Coast Tick

Dr. Tim McDermott, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Franklin County

(Image Source: Center for Disease Control and Prevention)

Right now, you are probably getting tired of hearing from me about new tick species and the diseases and potential allergies they vector to producers, livestock, and companion animals in Ohio that we have to worry about. I wrote an article for All About Grazing back in June of 2019 warning about the mammalian muscle allergy that can make you allergic to red meat from a Lone Star tick bite. My colleague Erika Lyon submitted an All About Grazing article introducing you to the Asian Longhorned Tick in January of 2019 and I submitted an article as a follow up to the Asian Longhorned tick in Ohio in July of 2020. Now we have a confirmed case of that invasive Continue reading

Supplement Energy to Ewes in Late Gestation

Dr. Benjamin Wenner, Assistant Professor, Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University

As we approach the winter lambing season in Ohio, producers have a variety of approaches to feeding pregnant ewes. Those who believe underfeeding their ewe will decrease fetal size are partially correct (as addressed in the ASIA Sheep Production Handbook, 2002), but the likelihood of decreasing dystocia with underfeeding is nearly nil. In a 2007 review of lambing data, late gestation energy supplementation could account for increasing fetal weight by roughly ½ lb. (Gardner et al., 2007). Certainly, there are many other factors leading to dystocia that deserve consideration before a ½ lb. increase in lamb birth weight garners attention. Twinning alone can reduce birth weights (despite increasing ewe conceptus weight and energy requirement) and thus practices to achieve greater fertility in your breeding flock are a wiser pursuit than trying to nutritionally limit birth weights during gestation. Continue reading