The Role of Fecal Egg Counting in Sheep/Goat Health

Susan Schoenian, Sheep & Goat Specialist, University of Maryland Small Ruminant Extension Program
(Previously published on the American Consortium for Small Ruminant Parasite Control: August 2020)

Although parasite burdens are low in many Ohio systems in the current moment, it is never too early to consider your 2021 parasite management plan. Many producers tend to treat for parasitic infection blindly and routinely, regardless of the true needs of their flocks or herds. For those interested in understanding the importance and implementation of fecal egg counting in your operation when it comes to parasite management be sure to take a peek at this quick read from Susan Schoenian.

A fecal egg count (FEC) is a quantitative measure of how many worm eggs a sheep/goat is passing in each gram of its manure. You get a number like 1000 EPG (eggs per gram of feces).

Fecal egg counts are performed by veterinarians, state diagnostic labs, and independent laboratories. You should only be willing to Continue reading

Newborn Lamb Care Management

Jeffery Held, Professor Emeritus of Animal Science, South Dakota State University
(Previously published online with South Dakota State University Extension: December 19, 2018)

Proper newborn lamb care is a critical component of flock profitability. In the U.S. lamb mortality from all causes is approximately 20% with more than 80% of those losses occurring in the first two-weeks following lambing. Yet a solid lamb care management plan coupled with a few key tools in the lambing barn can sharply improve the number of lambs reared per-ewe. Generally, the top causes for newborn lamb losses are starvation, hypothermia (cold stress), respiratory disease, and scours followed by injury. Theoretically, these categories each stand alone, however the reality is often two-or-three of these occur simultaneously. Producers that develop a lambing time-management plan to incorporate appropriate lambing tools and gain key skills on newborn lamb care will benefit from less labor input and expense with a greater number of lambs weaned.

In the winter, lambing management systems common to the Upper Midwest have simple lambing tools that can help reduce common problems with newborn lambs, including starvation, hypothermia, and injury. Continue reading

Lambing and Kidding Simulator

Looking for tips and tricks on how to deliver lambs and kids in difficult situations? Practice makes perfect! Be sure to check out OSU Extension’s Jacci Smith as she demonstrates how to work through some of these difficult situations using a visual simulator.

It’s Time to Start Thinking about Frost-Seeding Legumes

Victor Shelton, Victor Shelton, NRCS State Agronomist/Grazing Specialist
(Previously published in On Pasture: January 18, 20120)

Frost seeding is one of the least expensive ways to enhance the stand of legumes in your pastures. It is basically the process of broadcasting the legume seed onto the soil surface during the winter dormant months and letting nature do the rest of the work.

Frost seeding relies on the freezing-thawing action of the soil, which is honeycombing the soil surface with ice crystals. The soil surface expands and contracts, allowing the small seed to find a route into the ground. During warmer winters, you might not always get enough action, leaving the seed uncovered. The seed lying on the soil surface can be warmed enough by the sun to initiate germination, only to be killed by the next freeze. When the seed is protected by the soil it is not as likely to be impacted by the sun and is more likely to wait until the proper time to germinate. Continue reading

Disorders Associated with Management Practices of Sheep

Marie S. Bulgin, DVM, MBA, DACVM, University of Idaho
(Previously published in Merck Manual: Veterinary Manual: January, 2015)

(Image Source: Colin Trengove, University of Adelaide)

Management practices, particularly feeding practices, can be the primary determinant of cases or outbreaks of infectious or metabolic disease in all flocks of sheep.

Pregnancy toxemia
Pregnancy toxemia may be seen in late-pregnant ewes bearing multiple fetuses subjected to a falling plane of nutrition, specifically energy. It is associated with simple starvation, ewes too fat in early pregnancy, ewes too fat in late pregnancy and that voluntarily reduce feed intake, poor quality feed, and ewes subjected to stress in late-pregnancy (eg, trailing or transport, or severe environmental changes). Ewes rarely survive after showing signs of pregnancy toxemia, even with excellent veterinary care, and it is difficult to stop losses even after interceding with adequate feed.

Hypocalcemia is seen in pregnant ewes or ewes in early lactation subjected to a period of temporary starvation or to feeds particularly low in calcium, especially ewes with multiple fetuses, as a result of decreased feed intake in late pregnancy. It is also seen in

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OSU Extension Small Ruminant Webinar Series

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

Are you looking for new tips and tricks on how to improve your small ruminant operation this winter? Maybe you’re gearing up for lambing and kidding season and you want to make sure that you have everything you may ever need and more when it comes to supplies and knowledge. Perhaps last year you vowed to change your nutritional program to meet the demands of your female based during late gestation and lactation. Or what about marketing? We know the challenges of marketing during the spring of 2020. What did we learn and how can we prepare for issues like these in the future? If these are areas of interest for you, keep reading. Trust us – your livestock will thank you!

The Ohio State University Extension and Department of Animal Sciences is pleased to announce the dates of 3 small ruminant production focused webinars highlighting the topics above on January 19th, February 16th, and March 16th. Webinar registration is quick, easy, and FREE. To register, please visit Continue reading

Pregnancy Toxemia (Ketosis) in Ewes and Does

Steve LeValley, Colorado State University Extension Sheep Specialist
Previously published online with Colorado State University Extension: August, 2010)

Quick Facts…

  • Pregnancy toxemia in sheep and goats is also known as pregnancy disease, lambing sickness, and twin-lamb/kid disease.
  • The principal cause of pregnancy toxemia is low blood sugar (glucose).
  • Onset of the disease is often triggered by one of several types of stress including nutritional or inclement weather.
  • The disease is most prevalent in ewes and does carrying two or more lambs or kids. The disease also affects ewes and does that are extremely fat or excessively thin.
  • The best preventive measure is increased feeding of high energy concentrates and grains during the last month of pregnancy.

Occurrence and Causes
Pregnancy toxemia in sheep and goats has also been called Continue reading

Managing Risk: Using Heat Lamps on the Farm

Michael Glos, Cornell University Guest Writer
(Previously published with Cornell Small Farms Program: April 7, 2014)

No farmer wants to have a fire, but we all practice fire prevention in different ways.

It is an accepted premise that farming is a daily lesson in managing risk. Some farmers are more risk averse than others but we all find our comfort level and work from there. For example: I am not comfortable borrowing $100,000, while I know other farmers of my same scale who are. The risk of a fire on the farm is another area which is managed differently by each farmer. No farmer wants to have a fire, but we all practice fire prevention in different ways. Continue reading

Colostrum and Health of Newborn Lambs

Dr. Dan Morrical, Extension Sheep Specialist, Iowa State University
Dr. Nolan R. Hartwig, Extension Veterinarian, Iowa State University
Dr. Curtis Youngs, Animal Science Associate Professor, Iowa State University
(Previously published online with Iowa State University Extension: June 1995)

(Image Source: Cindy Roesinger)

I was always taught that repetition is the key to learning and that in order to fully understand a concept, viewing it from different angles always helps. Although this article is a bit dated, it provides the basics of an important timely concept. Good luck with your 2021 lambing/kidding season and enjoy this quick read from Iowa State University!

Keeping newborn lambs alive and healthy is the greatest management challenge facing sheep producers. An important strategy for meeting this challenge is making sure that lambs receive adequate colostrum during the first two to three hours of life. The effect of colostrum on the health, survival, and performance of newborn lambs cannot be overrated.

The Importance of Colostrum
Colostrum is the “first milk” that ewes produce after lambing. Colostrum has a high level of several nutrients that are important for lamb health and performance. Colostrum also contains Continue reading

Baleage Mistakes can Lead to Major Health Consequences

Dr. Michelle Arnold, DVM (Ruminant Extension Veterinarian, UKVDL), University of Kentucky
Dr. Ray Smith, Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, University of Kentucky
Krista Lea, Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, University of Kentucky
(Previously published online with the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service)

Baleage or “wet wrapped hay” is simply forage of a relatively high moisture content that is baled and then sealed in a plastic bag or wrapped in plastic, to keep oxygen out. Anaerobic bacteria (those that live without air) convert sugars in the forage to lactic acid which in turn lowers the pH and preserves the forage as silage, with full fermentation completed within 6-8 weeks. Round bale silage (“baleage”) is an alternative to baling dry hay that allows shorter curing time and saves valuable nutrients by avoiding rain damage, harvest delays, spontaneous heating and weathering if stored outdoors. Grasses, legumes and small grains can be effectively preserved by this method but only if proper techniques are followed. Forages should be cut at early maturity with high sugar content, allowed to wilt to a 40-60% moisture range, then tightly baled and quickly wrapped in 4 to 6 layers of UV stable, 6-8 mm plastic to undergo fermentation (“ensiling” or “pickling”), a process that should drop the pH of the feed below 4.5 where spoilage organisms will not grow. Problems arise when Continue reading