Small Ruminant Management: Pre-weaning Health Considerations – Part 2

Dr. Brady Campbell, Assistant Professor, State Small Ruminant Extension Specialist

Continuing our discussion from last week, as we move beyond the first few critical days post lambing and kidding the nerves of new life on the farm dwindle as mother nature takes control. However, as lambs and kids begin to fill the barn, it is important to remain observant to ensure that we haven’t missed anything that management could have corrected for. One management task that is of utmost importance is ensuring that we maintain an up-to-date vaccination program. In more cases than not, the most skilled producers face young lamb and kid losses associated with a lack of timeliness when it comes to vaccination protocols. It’s understandable, life happens – let’s just not make a habit of it. As we have discussed in the past, vaccines should be considered when specific challenges present themselves with the only exception being with CD&T (we’ll talk about this one below). Once a vaccine has been used with your operation, boosters (using various time frames) are typically required.

Speaking of vaccines, I think it’s time for a little quiz and don’t worry, it’s not graded. Do you know how a vaccine is used by the body? Better yet, how long does it take for the immune system to develop in our young stock? What if you intend on vaccinating young lambs and kids, do you know when this vaccine can and should be given in order for it to be effective. According to Dr. Bret Taylor, in general it takes the immune system 3-4 weeks to mature. Therefore, it is critical that lambs and kids receive

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NDSU and UMN Extension to Host American Lamb and Our Consumer Webinar

Presenters will discuss American lamb in retail, food service, and on consumers’ plates.

North Dakota State University (NDSU) Extension and University of Minnesota (UMN) Extension will host an “American Lamb and our Consumer” webinar on Monday, Feb. 28 at 6:30 p.m. CST. Sheep producers, 4-H and FFA members, and lamb consumers are invited to attend.

“February is Lamb Lovers Month,” says Travis Hoffman, NDSU and UMN Extension sheep specialist. “It’s an exciting time for the U.S. lamb industry. Sheep prices have reached record highs while per capita consumption and demand for American lamb has grown over the past few years.”

Megan Wortman, executive director of the American Lamb Board (ALB), will share her expertise, insight and optimism for American lamb in retail, food service and on consumers’ plates. Wortman and Hoffman will share ways for lamb consumers to Continue reading

Small Ruminant Management: Pre-weaning Health Considerations – Part 1

Dr. Brady Campbell, Assistant Professor, State Small Ruminant Extension Specialist

As we discussed a few weeks ago, abortion causing diseases can strike your operation at any time without warning. I hope that you don’t experience any of those types of hardships in your endeavors, but if you do, you now have a resource to reference when something goes awry. Being able to identify the current challenge your flock or herd is facing and having the tools to remedy the issue is key for success in any livestock enterprise. Of course, the management of your operation doesn’t stop at reproduction, or at least we hope not! Once you have hardy and healthy lambs and kids on the ground, it is important to remain vigilant to ensure success during the pre-weaning phase of production.

According to Dwyer and others (2016), lambs and kids are most vulnerable to disease and mis-management that often results in death during the first 24-48 hours after birth. Furthermore these authors also support that approximately 50% of pre-weaning death losses occur within the first two days of life. Globally, the estimated mortality or death rate in sheep operations hoovers around 15%, which has remained unchanged for Continue reading

Are Your Pastures Ready for Spring Grazing?

Douglas Gucker, Local Food Systems and Small Farms Educator, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
(Previously published online with Illinois Extension: April 10, 2015)

Have you surveyed your pastures? Do any areas need to be renovated? If you are reading this article around the same time period in which it were originally published it is too late to do any frost seeding in those areas. However, there is still time to use a no-till drill to plant grass or legumes in any “thin” areas needing more forage plants. Remember a legume in a pasture adds high quality forage and extra nitrogen for the grass.

Do you have a plan for handling the “spring flush” of cool-season grass and legume growth? This period of rapid spring grass growth happens when air temperatures are in the 70’s (degrees F) and moisture is readily available. During this “spring flush” of growth, our cool-season grasses will produce up to 60% of their total annual growth during the months of April, May, and June.

Start grazing your animals as soon as Continue reading

Importance of Nutrition Management to Avoid Acidosis

Jeff Held, South Dakota State University Sheep Extension Specialist
(Previously published online with South Dakota State University Extension: November 18, 2021)

As lambing continues and we begin to introduce lambs to feed, keeping a watchful eye over the flock will be critical for feeding success. For those that have experienced acidosis you know that it can happen in a blink of an eye. Once visual signs are noted its often too late for corrective treatment. With the current prices of lambs in todays market, we can not afford to lose any lambs due to mismanagement. Whether you have fed lambs for 50 years or never before, this quick read from Jeff Held with South Dakota State University will be well worth the read as it could save a lamb or two. Enjoy!

About Acidosis
Acidosis (also known as lactic acidosis, grain overload, over-eating or grain poisoning) is a metabolic condition that most commonly occurs with lambs offered grain based diets, but can affect mature sheep. Over-consumption of grain causes excess production of lactic acid in the rumen resulting in pH levels falling below the threshold to maintain microbial bacteria populations and normal rumen function. Since acidosis is not an infectious or contagious disease, it is one of the easier conditions to control since it is dependent on nutrition management decisions.

Causes and Symptoms
Nutrition management related to starch intake from feed grains is the primary cause of Continue reading

7 Tips for Successful Frost Seeding

Chris Torres, Editor, American Agriculturalist
(Previously published online with American Agriculturalist: March 16, 2021)

Clover species are your best bet, as is seeding in more loamy, clay soils.

While nights are still chilly, the days are getting warmer, making it the perfect time to do some frost seeding.

Frost seeding is an economical way to establish cover crops in winter in standing wheat or barley, or to supplement a thin forage stand. And even though it’s not as foolproof as drilling, it’s a reasonably successful practice.

Penn State Cooperative Extension has seven tips to ensure frost seeding success:

Do it in loamy, clay soils. Frost seeding works well on loamy and clay soils that hold water, but it is not suited for use on sandy or shale soils that dry out quickly.

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Small Ruminant Management: Abortion Causing Diseases

Dr. Brady Campbell, Assistant Professor, State Small Ruminant Extension Specialist

For those raising sheep and goats in the Midwest, lambing and kidding season is in full swing. As we enjoy the victories and contemplate the challenges our management systems threw at us this year, it is important to note and document everything that happened so we can evaluate our outcomes at the end of the season. An important statistic to keep in any livestock operation is death loss. This number is valuable to quantify the efficiency of your operation, but without recording a reason for a loss or death in your operation, this statistic ends here. I know that it can be stressful and deflating when we encounter a loss, but understanding why it occurred and the reason behind it will pay dividends as you move forward. Although this discussion is a bit gloomy to talk about, it’s an important one none the less. Below, I have outlined some of the common diseases in sheep and goats that are associated with pregnancy loss, abortions, stillbirths, and birth deformities. Be sure to read each of these and compare them to your operation. Even if you don’t have issues today, these diseases can rear their ugly head at any given time. Keeping this information tucked away in your farming tool box will be well worth the read.

Campylobacter (Vibrio)
Campylobacter, or more commonly referred to as Vibrio, is caused by a bacterial infection with campylobacter jejuni or fetus. Ewes and does that contract this bacterial infection tend to abort during Continue reading

Small Ruminant Abortions: Cleanup and Facility Considerations

Russ Daly, Professor, South Dakota State University Extension Veterinarian, State Public Health Veterinarian
(Previously published online with South Dakota State University Extension: November 19, 2021)

(Image Source: Farmers Weekly)

Sheep and goat producers in the upper Midwest rely on annual lamb or kid crops to maintain economic viability. Reduction in the lamb or kid crop due to abortion (premature birth) and stillbirths are a common occurrence on many farms. Some of these problems have implications for human health as well as animal health. This article will discuss some methods to limit risk and improve biocontainment if you find yourself dealing with abortions on your farm.

Pregnancy losses in sheep and goats can be sporadic and uncommon or occur in the form of “abortion storms,” or outbreaks where up to 20% – 30% of a flock’s pregnancies are lost. These losses can occur for a number of reasons, including (particularly in the case of large outbreaks) infections with various bacteria, viruses, or protozoa.

Human Health
Some of these germs not only pose threats to Continue reading