(Image Source: Texas A&M Department of Entomology)
I’ve been hearing so much about ticks lately that it’s really been bugging me. The Asian Longhorned Tick is certainly one to keep an eye out for in our herds and flocks, but another ectoparasite that may affect sheep is the sheep ked, Melophagus ovinus. Keds are a like a tick, but only found on domestic and wild sheep and goats. Typically, keds are most prevalent in the Western United States, but with the ability to ship animals all over the country, it’s important to know what’s really out there.
I already mentioned that keds are similar to ticks, meaning it takes bloodmeals from our stock. Keds only take one bloodmeal per day and it can last from 5-10 minutes. When examining sheep for keds, they actually look like hairy wingless flies, not at all like a tick. They tend to hang out on the neck, breast, flanks, and rump. Rarely are adults found on the belly or the back of sheep because the skin in those areas can become dirtied with mud, dust, or bedding. Profit losses from ked infections may be direct or indirect. Infected fine wool sheep may produce low-quality, scraggly wool. Similar to how other bloodmeal insects can cause skin itching and inflammation, keds are no exception. Sheep may Continue reading →
Dr. Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist, The Ohio State University
With the onset of recent warm temperatures, forage stands are beginning to green up. Wet soil conditions and widely fluctuating temperatures have presented tough conditions for forage stands this winter. This is especially true of taprooted legumes like alfalfa and red clover. Many forage stands suffered significant fall armyworm feeding damage late last summer and into the fall, so those stands should be carefully evaluated this spring as they greenup. It is time to start walking forage stands (especially in southern and central Ohio) to assess their condition so decisions and adjustments for the 2022 growing season can be planned if necessary.
Forage stand evaluation can be performed when 3-4 inches of new shoot growth is present. Select random sites throughout the field and count the plants in a one-foot square area. Check at least 4-5 random sites in each 20- to 25-acre area. Random sampling will give the best unbiased overall evaluation of the field.
Whatever your thoughts on fasting sheep, there’s no doubt your shearer will thank you for keeping the flock off feed and water before shearing. More importantly, your sheep will thank you, too. While there are various views on fasting, the benefits to sheep and shearer are significant, and backed by research.
The ASI Code of Practice for the Preparation of Wool Clips and even ASI’s Sheep Production Handbook don’t go into much detail about why fasting is important, but both call for sheep to be penned anywhere from 4-12 hours before shearing. And both recommend keeping sheep off feed and water while penned before shearing.
So, why is it important? First and foremost, for the health and safety of both the sheep and the shearer. If the gut of the sheep is full, it can add significant weight to the sheep, placing additional downward pressure on the sheep’s organs when in the shearing position causing discomfort and stress to the sheep. In turn, this often causes the sheep to not only be uncomfortable, but to kick and struggle more, leading to even more stress to the sheep.
Ohio is on the forefront for expansion of ticks and tick-vectored disease going from one tick that is medically important to humans, companion animals, and livestock twenty years ago to five ticks now. I encountered the American Dog Tick way back when I was in clinical veterinary practice, then added the Blacklegged, or Deer Tick in 2010. I talked about the Lone Star tick back in Farm and Dairy on June 27th, 2019 in the article “ Don’t Let a Lone Star Tick Bite Make You Allergic to Your Dinner” and still get nervous about potentially getting the mammalian muscle allergy (alpha-gal) that could make me allergic to my favorite food, bacon cheeseburgers. We finally added two more ticks to get to our total of five in 2020 with expansion to new host ranges of those ticks continuing to this day. The Gulf Coast tick, not a true invasive, has been present in the United States since the 1800’s and was a serious pest for cattle producers at the time assisting with the economic and medical damage caused by the severe and reportable screwworm pest. This tick has established colonies in counties in Southwestern Ohio.
Over the last 25 years, animal production has improved significantly to have more milk and meat production per animal. To support our ability to feed and manage modern animals, technology to better analyze feed ingredients has also changed to keep up with production.
Feeds are more thoroughly analyzed today than they were before, allowing feeds to be utilized to their full potential. Although the layout of reports may be different between laboratories, the various parameters required for nutritionists are included in most feed analysis reports. In the subsequent paragraphs, I will describe the type of information found in a feed analysis and what it means.
Every report will include the dry matter of the feedstuff. The reason for obtaining the dry matter is because moisture dilutes the concentrations of the nutrients present, and it is standard practice to evaluate the feed and balance rations using a dry matter basis.
Crude protein (CP) is a term well-known among producers and is calculated based on the nitrogen content of the feedstuff. Without looking at the type of protein it is made up of, it doesn’t tell us more than Continue reading →
Building off a successful online launch in 2021, the Pastures for Profit program will be offered as a virtual course again this year during March and April 2022. Anyone interested in pasture management and forage production is welcome to join the course. One live webinar will be offered each week for three consecutive weeks along with “work at your own pace” videos and exercises that accompany each webinar. The Pastures for Profit program is a long-standing collaboration between Ohio State University Extension, Central State University, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Ohio Department of Agriculture, and the Ohio Forage and Grasslands Council.
Each webinar will be offered live on Zoom at 7 P.M. and feature three presentations in a 90-minute span. Attendees will be able to interact with the speakers and ask questions in real time. Once registered, attendees will be granted access to Continue reading →
Ewes only have two teats and hopefully raise at least twin lambs, so maintaining healthy udders and culling ewes with udder problems is important to minimize lamb losses and bottle lambs while ensuring optimal growth of lambs on your farm. Mastitis leads to lower weaning weights in lambs of affected dams, takes time and money for treatment, as well as slowing down genetic progress due to forced culling of ewes. Rates of mastitis are variable across different farms. It is important to keep track of the percentage of ewes that get mastitis each year or are culled for lumpy udders or poor milk production. You can then intervene as soon as you start seeing an increase in cases, and can track the success of interventions if you do have an issue with mastitis on your farm. Management as well as genetic selection (udder conformation) can also be used to improve udder health in your flock.
Mastitis Mastitis is an infection/inflammation of the udder and can be either clinical (you see abnormal milk, swollen udder, sick ewe) or subclinical (milk and ewe look normal but you can culture bacteria from milk, there are white blood cells in the milk and lambs just do not grow as well). If you are seeing a lot of mastitis on your farm or if you are starting to see increased rates, it is important to culture milk from affected ewes so you can get a better idea of how to Continue reading →
In times of economic stress, reducing feed costs through least cost formulations or improving current feeding regiments will greatly benefit the success of your operation. For those looking to improve their nutritional program, Philip Berg with the Pipestone sheep management program reviews the energy and protein requirements of ewes during various stages of production. Philip also reviews alternative feeding strategies that may allow for you to capitalize on the benefits of your current system or point out areas in which could use some improvement. There is something for everyone to learn in this piece – enjoy!
Sjoerd Willem Duiker, Professor of Soil Management and Applied Soil Physics, Penn State University
Zachary Larson, Field and Forage Crops Educator, Penn State University
David Hartman, Extension Educator – Livestock, Penn State University
Dave Wilson, Former Extension Educator – Agronomy, Penn State University
(Previously published online with PennState Extension: March 2, 2022)
Frost seeding is an economical method to establish legume cover crops into small grain stands or to fill in run-down pastures.
Frost seeding is an economical way to establish cover crops in the winter in standing wheat or barley or to supplement a thin forage stand. Though not as fool-proof as drilling, it is a reasonably successful practice.
Now is the time to perform this practice as the soil is going through freeze-thaw cycles. This causes a ‘honey-combing’ of the soil surface which helps to improve seed-to-soil contact. Frost seeding works well on loamy and clay soils that hold water but is not suited for use on sandy or shaley soils that dry out quickly. The best time to perform frost seeding is early in the morning when the soil is frozen, and a thaw is expected during the day. This reduces the chance for Continue reading →