Dystocia, weak lambs and kids, hypothermia (if you have the pleasure of lambing in January and February like we do in the Midwest), and agalactia all classify as lambing and kidding emergencies in my book and probably yours, too. With lambing season perhaps already started for some and right around the corner for others, it’s time to prepare for the “lamb-pede” soon to hit your barns.
Dystocia is the issue producers are most likely concerned about. If unattended, dystocia can result in dead lambs, and in the worst cases, dead ewes. Dystocia can present in a variety of ways, especially if the mother is carrying twins like we so hope she does! My counterpart in Delaware County, Jacci Smith, has a great video of demonstrations on how to handle different dystocia presentations, and can be found on YouTube titled “Lambing and Kidding Simulators” on the OSU Extension Delaware County page. Jacci created Continue reading →
Chris Penrose, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Morgan County
(Image Source: University of Missouri Extension)
For much of my career, I have worked with colleagues to try to figure out the best ways to reduce costs of feeding [livestock] during the winter. I am still convinced that along with grazing corn fields after harvest, stockpiling grass, especially fescue is a great option. The how, when, and what to do stockpiling grass is where it becomes “fuzzy”. From a scientific standpoint, after 32 years of various stockpiling research, all I can really say with statistical confidence today is that adding nitrogen will increase yields. Can adding a nitrogen stabilizer help? Maybe. Will urea volatize if it does not receive a ½ inch of rain within 48 hours? Maybe, but likely not as much as we thought. Will adding nitrogen increase protein? Maybe, but it likely depends on how soon the grass is fed and do the animals really need the increased protein? Will adding nitrogen increase the endophyte levels? Maybe, but depending on when the stockpiled grass is fed and cold temperatures, will it even be an issue? When is the best time to initiate stockpiling? Continue reading →
I wrote this article in September 2021 for the Mid-Ohio Shepherds Grazing Conference and now that the conference resource guide has been published, I wanted to share this updated version which also includes a recent report on lamb consumption from the American Lamb Board below. Enjoy!
For those that follow the sheep and goat industry closely, I am sure that you have noticed that prices are better more than ever. For those that haven’t followed the recent market trends, I encourage you to do so – it may spark your interest in raising sheep or goats! As I write this in mid-September, the American Sheep Industry (ASI) reports that lambs, regardless of weight, are valued at 40% – 80% more than when compared with prices from the fall of 2020. For lambs weighing 60-90 lbs. live, the nation is seeing an average price of $2.69/lb., with slaughter weight lambs (100-140 lbs.) being valued at $2.47/lb. As we move into the fall and winter months, I only foresee these price trends to increase, which has held true!
With winter upon us, and lambing and kidding season near, I’m sure that most shepherds and producers are making their last minute preparations eagerly awaiting for the arrival of their next lamb or kid crop. For me, winter also comes with more time spent indoors researching ways to improve the American sheep industry. It’s no secrete that producers from across the nation face production issues associated with predation. For us in the eastern United States, coyotes rank amongst the top predators. According to the 2020 USDA Sheep Death Loss Report, approximately 600,000 sheep and lambs were lost in 2019 nationwide, with 32.6% of adult sheep and 40.1% of lambs lost due to predation. As markets for small ruminant products continue to grow, we must find strategies to reduce these losses. As you visit with family, friends, and fellow producers over the holiday season, you may discuss ways to dampen these statics. For those interested in taking matters into their own hands, take a look at this series of coyote trapping videos from Kansas State University Research and Extension.
The American Lamb Board (ALB) aims to connect American Lamb producers with consumers and chefs who are seeking local sources of American Lamb.
“ALB receives emails and calls daily requesting information about where to buy American Lamb,” says Gwen Kitzan, ALB chair. “We want to know the online stores, farmers markets, and butcher shops that carry local American Lamb across the country to help consumers and chefs who only have access to imported lamb or no lamb at all in their grocery stores.”
ALB has a survey for American Lamb producers to submit information about their direct marketing efforts.
There are three structures that can prolapse and be visible under a ewe’s tail: vagina, uterus, and rectum. Vaginal and uterine prolapses can negatively affect ewes around lambing and will be discussed here.
A vaginal prolapse occurs when a ewe’s vagina protrudes out of her vulva. Most prolapses occur in the last few days or weeks of pregnancy. It usually starts with the ewe laying down and you just see a small little ball of red tissue protruding from the vulva that retracts when she stands up. This is the ideal time to start treatment and prevent it from progressing to a much more serious situation.
If left untreated, more of the vagina will start protruding. This tissue is not supposed to be exposed to the elements and with time it becomes dried out, contaminated with bedding and fecal matter and infection can set in. This is uncomfortable for the ewe and she will start straining, pushing more and more tissue out and making the situation worse. Often Continue reading →
Ed Brown, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Athens County
Over the last few months, we have been seeing food costs rise. At the same time, the cost of feeding your hay field has risen. Nitrogen prices are now at an all-time high.
While shopping for groceries, we can make choices as to what we will buy and what we will leave on the shelf. Maybe we put the prime rib back and get the ground round. These choices can be made quickly while standing in the grocery store aisle, but can we do this with our hayfields? The short answer is, yes.
Now that we are at the start of winter, you may have a few minutes to consider a plan for the next hay season. You may have more options than you think. The first step is to take a soil sample and see where things stand. This is a great time of year because the testing labs are less busy, and you have time to make a plan before everything gets going in the spring.
With much excitement of being able to gather in person, the 2021 Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium held on December 3-4, 2021 in Wooster, Ohio at the OARDC Shisler Conference Center was a success. Thanks to the support of The Ohio State University departments of Extension and Animal Sciences as well as the Ohio Sheep Improvement Association, shepherds in person and online were provided with a diverse program covering topics of reproduction and record keeping efficiencies. Per usual, this years event featured a Friday afternoon season, full Saturday program, and opportunity for the industries youth to gather and connect through the Young Shepherd’s Assembly program.
Starting with the Friday session, the program featured a panel of diverse sheep operations that well represented our unique industry. Speakers for this portion of the program featured Mike Stitzlein, Isabel Richards, and Leroy Kuhns. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, local commercial Dorset producer Leroy Kuhns was unable to attend the event. In lieu of Leroy’s absence, a PowerPoint presentation highlighting his operation was featured and can be viewed here. Mike Stitzlein Continue reading →
As cold weather approaches, it is important to consider the comfort of the sheep and goats we care for.
Winter can be a stressful time for livestock. As owners, we need to help to reduce that stress by providing proper care, feeding, and management practices. Adjusting management practices will help to ensure that sheep under your care will thrive through the cold winter months.
Sheep should be given some kind of shelter even if it is just a tree line or wind block. Shelters can include barns or three sided shed. Shelters should have adequate ventilation so that moisture does not build up and cause respiratory problems for the sheep. Hair sheep and wool breeds that have been recently shorn require more shelter than animals with longer wool. Ewes that are lambing during the cold winter months should be housed in a barn and check regularly. Newborns must be dried quickly after birth as hypothermia can set in quickly. Avoid damp, dark, or drafty barns, and wet muddy areas in or around buildings. Young lambs are able to withstand cold temperatures quite well, but drafts and dampness can lead to losses from baby lamb pneumonia. Heat lamps can be used to help keep lambs warm, although care must be taken to prevent electrocutions and/or barn fires.