Measuring Forage Moisture Content Using an Air Fryer

John Jennings, Professor – Forages, Animal Sciences, University of Arkansas
(Previously published online with the Division of Agriculture Research and Extension, University of Arkansas)

Measuring moisture content of forage cut for hay or silage is an essential step to ensure storage stability and product quality. Hay baled with too much moisture can mold or be subject to spontaneous heating. Silage baled or chopped at moisture contents outside a recommended range may not ferment properly, reducing storage life and animal acceptance. A relatively new method of measuring forage moisture content is through use of an air fryer. this household appliance is basically a small convection oven. it can be used at the farm shop or can be operated in the field from a generator to provide accurate forage moisture readings.

Steps for using an air fryer to measure hay moisture
Materials needed: Continue reading

Forages in Modern Small Ruminant Production Systems

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

Because of their versatility, forages play an important role in modern small ruminant production systems as they can be grazed or harvested and stored as fermented or dry feeds for later use. Forages are unique as they contain structural carbohydrates, in the form of cellulose, that can only be digested by rumen bacteria. When compared with grain-based diets, one disadvantage that is associated with forage-based diets is the number of bacteria that are used to digest forages is much lesser than those used to digest grains (3 billion bacteria/mL of rumen fluid in forage-based diets vs. 8 billion bacteria/mL of rumen fluid in grain-based diets). Rumen bacteria provide ruminants with a large proportion of daily crude protein intake, therefore, diets that are greater in forages may result in less protein available on a per pound basis when compared with grain-based diets and thus require additional supplementation. However, this slight inefficiency should not be “the end all be all” as marginal lands not suitable row cropping or commercial development as well as environmental challenges negatively impacting row cropping systems may greatly benefit from the incorporation of forage production.

From an animal perspective, increased levels of forages in the diet result in Continue reading

Marketing Feeder Lambs

Government of Alberta
(Previously published online: Marketing feeder lambs)

Lambs can be marketed either as finished (ready for slaughter) or feeder lambs. The choice depends on the facilities a producer has for feeding out lambs and their willingness to regularly sort and market them as they reach the ideal weight and finish. If a producer plans to sell all of their lambs at one time, it may be better to sell them to a feedlot than to sell a mixed group of lambs for slaughter.

Feeder lambs require more growth and finish before they are a suitable size and weight for a particular slaughter market. Generally feeder lambs are divided into three definite live weight groups:

  • Under 60 lb. (long-term feeders)
  • 60-80 lb. (middle-term feeders)
  • 81-94 lb. (short-term feeders)

Lambs can, however, be sold as feeders at weights as high as 100 to 110 lbs., depending on the intended market.

Deciding to sell feeder lambs should be part of an overall management plan, rather than Continue reading

Make Hay in May

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Noble County
(Previously published in Ohio Farmer: April 19, 2022)

Producers must pay attention to soil fertility, drying time, and storage to maximize both quality and quantity.

With May quickly approaching, hay season will soon be officially underway.

In the years since I began working at Ohio State Extension in Noble County, there have been two years when conditions were right for making dry hay in May — 2020 and 2021. The smell of mowed hay drying in the warm sun and the sight of fresh round bales soon to be peppering fields gives me a boost of much-needed optimism. For people concerned with the quality of hay, this is exciting stuff.

Making hay in May is worthy of celebration because the most influential factor on forage quality is plant maturity. As grasses and legumes emerge from the soil in springtime, energy is allocated to Continue reading

Lamb Prices Remain Elevated

Livestock Monitor- A Newsletter for Extension Staff
Livestock Marketing Information Center – State Extension Services in Cooperation with the USDA
(Previously published online: April 8, 2022)

(Image Source: Livestock Marketing Information Center)

The Easter holiday season is approaching, and this year the holiday falls a little later, on April 17th. This year has seen a slower pace to lamb slaughter leading up to the holiday compared to past years. Through the first quarter this year, weekly lamb slaughter has averaged about 30,000 head per week which is down 24% from the prior year. Typically, in the weeks leading up to Easter, lamb slaughter will climb. In 2022, a similar increase has started with the last week of March increasing more than 4,800 head (15%) from the prior week to over 36,100 head indicating producers are marketing lambs for Easter. Estimated (sheep and lamb) slaughter for the first two weeks of April was reported at 36,000 head, below the last week of March.

Consumers will be facing much higher lamb prices for Easter this year. The lamb cutout value has averaged over Continue reading

Livestock Fencing and Watering Systems

As my family and I spent part of our weekend mending and building new fence, I was sure to reference this video from OSU Extension’s very own Ted Wiseman. Did you know that staples can be either right or left handed? Or that they should be put in at a specific angle in order to work properly? Do you know how deep a corner post should be in relation to the length of the horizontal brace post? Let’s not forget about water! Do you know the maximum distance livestock should travel to get to fresh, clean water? To save yourself many headaches this spring, this video is well worth the listen as you begin turning livestock back out to pasture this spring.

United States is Open to Canadian Sheep and Goats

United States Department of Agriculture/Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
(Previously published online: April 4, 2022)

As of this week, live-breeding sheep and goats are eligible for import into the United States from Canada.

Importers must provide supporting documentation showing the scrapie-free status of the Canadian flock of origin at the time an import permit application is submitted to the U.S. Department of Agriculture/Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. Importers must also contact the United States port of entry at least 10 business days before the intended date of arrival. Post-entry requirements about traceback of imported animals and recordkeeping will apply.

Post-entry Requirements for Imported Live Breeding Sheep and Goats from Canada

The following provides additional details pertaining to the post-entry requirements for imported live breeding sheep and goats (for purposes other than immediate slaughter or restricted feeding for slaughter) as outlined in 9 CFR 93 and 9 CFR 98. Continue reading

Over-the-Counter Antibiotics will Require Veterinary Oversight (Rx) Beginning in June of 2023

Dr. Gustavo M. Schuenemann, DVM, Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine, The Oho State University

In June of 2021, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that all medically important antimicrobials will move from over-the-counter (OTC) to prescription (Rx) within a 2-year implementation period. The Center for Veterinary Medicine guidance for industry #263 (GFI 263) outlines the process for animal drug suppliers to change the approved marketing status of certain antimicrobial drugs for use in non-food (companion), food-producing animals, or both, that are currently approved with over-the-counter marketing status. In 2003, FDA ranked antimicrobials according to their relative importance to human medicine: “critically important,” “highly important,” or “important.” The FDA considers all antimicrobial drugs listed in Appendix A to GFI #152 to be “medically important”.

Continue reading

Sheep Pelts: Asset or Liability?

Susan Schoenian, Sheep & Goat Specialist, University of Maryland Small Ruminant Extension Program
(Previously published on the Maryland Small Ruminant Page)

It Depends.

Loss of Export Market
According to the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI), “there is currently no market for American sheep skins. The highest quality, unshorn premium pelts have lost 95% of their value since March.” Currently (as of 11/08/2019), sheepskin pelts have a negative value. Producers have to pay the processor to get rid of them [10].

In past years, it was common for the US to export more than 1 million pelt pieces worth an estimated $15 million. Over 80% of the pelts went to China. China was the biggest importer of sheep and lamb hides, receiving 74% of all skins exported worldwide in 2015 [9]. Turkey, Russia, and Italy import smaller numbers of pelts. Continue reading