Should I be Concerned about Contagious Abscesses in my Small Ruminant Operation?

Dr. Beth Johnson, DVM, Director of Animal Health, Kentucky Department of Agriculture
(Previously published online with Hoof Print – The Small Ruminant Blog, Kentucky Sheep and Goat Development Office: November 17, 2023)

Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis infection, also known as caseous lymphadenitis (CL) is a bacterial disease which infects sheep and goats. The bacteria prefers to set up shop in the lymph nodes of sheep and goats, resulting in a walled off abscess of caseous material within the lymph node. As we all know, lymph nodes are present throughout the body; therefore, this bacteria can infect both external and internal lymph nodes resulting in unthriftiness, loss of milk and meat production, premature culling and is responsible for many sudden deaths. When the abscesses are present within internal lymph nodes, the kidney, liver, gastrointestinal tract, lungs and even brain tissue may be affected. Animals become infected by exposure to infectious exudate from a draining abscess or contact with a contaminated inanimate object, i.e. feed troughs, in the environment which have been contaminated by the exudate from a draining abscess. Continue reading

The Small Ruminant Toolbox

Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE)
(Previously published online with SARE: Resources and Learning, 2014)

Sheep and goat enterprises offer diversification opportunities for small and limited-resource farmers. This Small Ruminant Toolbox was developed by the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) in order to provide a collection of information for small ruminant producers and educators. The Small Ruminant Toolbox includes many publications, presentations and other resources that will be helpful to small ruminant producers.

All Toolbox materials can be downloaded from this page.

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Finding Your Joy – Reasons To Be Thankful

Haley Campbell, Lecturer, The Ohio State University ATI

During the week that I wrote this, I was able to create and give a presentation to a local Rotary Club on preparing landscape beds and selecting flowers for the garden. Not even close to being a dairy topic, but it gave me joy. From the content shared to the photos used to the people listening, I had so much fun with this program. In the state of agriculture today, with input prices skyrocketing and uncertainty for the future, it can be incredibly hard to find the joy in what we do. However, finding the joy and clinging to that joy is what will bring you through hard times.

In fact, finding the joy has some health benefits, too (UC Berkeley). As if we don’t need another thing to worry about with a wet and cold spring and the price of soybean meal, our health and wellness need to come first. Without a farmer, there is no farm.

One way that happiness can physically affect our well-being is through heart health. Happy people tend to have lower heart rates and blood pressure. Additionally, happy people may have better immune systems. Studies have shown that when individuals are exposed to the cold virus, those that reported happy emotions leading up to exposure were more likely to

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Impacts of Large-Scale Solar on Rural Communities – A Research Perspective

Vegetation management, regardless of the application, has been a hot topic it seems for the year of 2023. Thankfully for small ruminant producers, sheep and goats seem to fit the needs of various industries as it relates to controlling forages and or weeds/brush in a given area. A month ago I had the opportunity to speak with a group of researchers that are focusing on the impacts of utility-scale solar within rural landscapes. For those that are interested in the topic, I encourage you to have a look this series of presentations focusing on the various aspects of solar power generation in the Midwest and eastern United States. You may even recognize a presenter at time stamp 26:20 in the video. Enjoy!

The Nuts and Bolts of EBVs

Eastern Alliance for Production Kathadins (EAPK) Communications Committee
(Previously published online with EAPK: November 17, 2023)

(Image Source: Texas A&M Agrilife Extension)

EBVs are tools that producers can use to select breeding animals that will help them meet flock goals for specific traits such as growth, milk, reproduction, parasite resistance and carcass quality. It is important to understand that selecting for extremes in one trait will often put negative selection pressure on other traits of interest. Often, animals with extremely high EBVs in certain traits will require additional nutritional support or better management to perform successfully at that level. In addition, some traits are antagonistic to other traits, meaning that if you select strongly for one trait you may be inadvertently reversing the progress you’ve made in other important traits. Traits that are directly measured (weights, FEC, Carcass) are generally more heritable than other traits such as milk and prolificacy. Below is a condensed description of EBVs, how they are measured and why they are important.

Maternal Weaning Weight EBV (MWWT):
MWWT EBV provides an estimate of the genetic effects of the ewe’s milk and mothering ability on the weaning weight of her lambs. A higher value generally indicates Continue reading

7 Steps to Enter Direct-To-Consumer Meat Market

Mindy Ward Editor, Missouri Ruralist
(Previously published online with Farm Progress: September 21, 2023)

Get your new farm marketing strategy up and running before the holidays.

In recent years, the direct-to-consumer (DTC) market has become trendy, especially in the meat industry. With changing consumer preferences, growing interest in food sourcing and rising e-commerce sales, DTC marketing is proving a viable and profitable option for farmers and ranchers.

DTC meat suppliers were the pandemic winners in 2020, according to a report from Second Measure, a California-based provider of retail analytics. Many of these suppliers were America’s farmers and ranchers.

Despite consumers returning to brick-and-mortar stores, the DTC movement is still strong as people like the convenience of not only shopping for meat from their couch, but also having it delivered to their doorstep.

Entering this market requires careful planning and execution. If you are new to the DTC market, it is hard to know where to start. So, here’s information from Continue reading

Ewe Are What Your Grandparents Ate?

Caroline Schneider, 2011 MS Student, University of Wisconsin Madison
(Previously published online with the University of Wisconsin Madison: Grow – Wisconsin’s magazine for the life sciences, Fall 2023)

(Image Source: Michael P. King)

Through a first-of-its-kind study, CALS animal scientists show us how our diets could modify the DNA of our grandchildren — and beyond.

“You are what you eat.” We’ve all heard this old adage before. But during pregnancy, maternal nutrition can have a large impact on a baby, as well, suggesting you’re also what your mother eats. Now, new research from the Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences is taking that one step further by showing that you may in fact be what your grandparents — or even great grandparents — ate.

It might be time for a new adage. Professor Hasan Khatib and colleagues in his lab have spent several years studying how a specialized diet in one generation of animals might affect those that come after. More specifically, they’re looking at the DNA of animals — sheep, in this case — to see if changes get passed on to their offspring, their offspring’s offspring, and so on. However, they’re not examining the Continue reading