Poisonous Pasture Weeds

Dwight Lingenfelter,

(Image Source: Poison Hemlock – Hay & Forage Grower)

As we transition into the fall, pastures will become less productive as temperatures decline. Be sure to scout your pasture fields for potentially dangerous weeds that your livestock may consider grazing on as other forages become limited.

Grazing animals will very rarely eat poisonous weeds if there are other options. However, the recent rain has been great for poisonous plant growth and the concern is heightened.

The wet weather has been great for pasture growth but is also good for poisonous plant growth. Grazing animals will very rarely eat poisonous weeds if there are other options. Keeping pastures growing rapidly and knowing which species to be most concerned about will help in minimizing the risk of poisonous pasture plants. Continue reading

How to Shear Sheep – Blow by Blow

In preparation for both fall and winter lambing, shearing the ewe flock is an important management practice that should be considered to improve the efficiency of your operation. Shearing sheep can be made easy when following this technique step by step or, in sheep terms, blow by blow. Ensuring that your sheep is in the correct location at all times will result in a low stress and successful shearing job. For those interested in learning more on how to properly shear your sheep, be on the look out for announcements in regards to our sheep shearing schools in 2021. Happy Shearing!

Using Coyotes to Protect Livestock. Wait. What?

Randy Comeleo, Committee Chair, Benton County, Oregon, Agriculture and Wildlife Protection Program
(Previously published with Oregon State University Extension Service)

(Image Source: USDA National Wildlife Research Center)

Livestock losses are an unfortunate reality of ranching and the use of traps and snares is a common way to attempt to reduce predator-livestock conflict. However, one USDA study (Shivik et al. 2003) noted that for many types of predators, there is a paradoxical relationship between the number of predators removed and the number of livestock killed. Surprisingly, these researchers found that as more predators were removed, more livestock were killed.

Similarly, in a 14-year USDA study at the University of California Hopland Research and Extension Center (Conner et al. 1998), researchers found that trapping of coyotes did not reduce sheep losses. In fact, scientists found that as trappers worked more hours, more lambs were killed by predators. The unexpected results in these studies can be explained by Continue reading

Do Cover Crops Need Fertilizer?

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Noble County

At A Glance:
The benefits of utilizing cover crops in both grazing and agronomic crop production are numerous. However, each cover crop system is unique. There is no blanket “yes” or “no” answer to the question- Do cover crops need fertilizer?

Incorporating Cover Crops
Each farm is different and therefore the way you use cover crops can differ too. Whether you are a row crop farmer, a fruit and vegetable grower, exclusively in the hay business, a livestock manager, or involved in a combination of pursuits, cover crops can be an added benefit to your system. Continue reading

Increase Lamb Crop by Testing for Pregnancy


Reviewed by: Jay Parsons, University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Bill DeMoss, Mountain Vet supply
(Previously published online with Agriview: September 5, 2019)

(Image Source: U.S. Lamb Resource Center)

Pregnancy detection in the ewe provides the opportunity to adjust nutritional and lambing management to save on feed and labor costs. The old adage that “one open ewe takes the profits of five producing ewes” may be true when all costs are calculated. Early determination of fetal numbers and gestational stage gives the option of sorting for nutritional demands in late pregnancy and early lactation. Without that information, the single-bearing ewe is being fed too much or the twin-bearing ewe too little. Open ewes are robbing the pregnant ewes of necessary nutrition. Grouping according to gestational stage will also save on labor and allow for better utilization of facilities and biosecurity.

The key in any type of business is producing an end product, or more simply put, production. The economic benefit of pregnancy testing in Continue reading

Reproductive Management of the Ewe Flock and the Ram

Mike Neary, Extension Sheep Specialist, Purdue University
(Previously published on the Purdue University Extension web page)

(Image Source: Michigan State University)

The most important factor in determining profitability of a sheep enterprise is production rate. Productivity of the ewe flock is a direct reflection of reproductive efficiency. Regardless of genetic merit, eye appeal, price, or showring placing, if a sheep will not reproduce it is worth no more than current slaughter value.

To a large extent, the goals and objectives we have for our next lamb crop are determined before and during the breeding season. Increasing ewe productivity while decreasing labor, time and facilities requirements during the lambing season can be realistic objectives.

Reproduction in sheep is influenced by numerous factors. These include: Continue reading

Late Season Forage Harvest Management

Dr. Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist, The Ohio State University
(Previously published in the C.O.R.N. Newsletter 2020-28)

The best time to take a last harvest of alfalfa and other legumes is sometime in early September in Ohio, for the least risk to the long-term health of the stand. These forages need a fall period of rest to replenish carbohydrate and protein reserves in the taproots that are used for winter survival and regrowth next spring.

Many forage producers around the state have been cutting this past week and are continuing into this week. It will be ideal if this is indeed the last harvest of the season. But some growers might try to squeeze out another late cutting, and others have fields that are not quite ready for harvest right now. Like most farming decisions, there are trade-offs and risk factors to consider when making a fall harvest of forage legumes after the first week of September. This article reviews best management practices and risk factors affecting fall cutting management. Continue reading

Fall Overgrazing can be Double Trouble

Mike Rankin, Hay and Forage Grower managing editor
(Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: August 25, 2020)

There are a couple of things we know about the term “overgrazing.” First, it’s the most common mistake made regardless of grazing system. Second, it’s all about time.

Time comes in two forms when discussing grazing systems. There is the amount of time animals are left on a single area of pasture, and there’s the amount of time animals are kept away from that paddock after a grazing event. Both of these factors are important.

I have been on grazing operations where paddocks are purposely grazed short, but then animals are not returned to that paddock for at least seven weeks. These are usually beef operations where land base isn’t limiting. The key in such a system is Continue reading

The Selection of Replacement Ewes, and the use of Records and Visual Appraisal to Help in that Selection

A. Richard Cobb, University of Illinois, Extension Sheep Specialist
(Previously published with University of Illinois Extension, Illinois Livestock Trail, Sheep and Goats: July 20,2004)

One of the main reasons for the long term success or failure of a flock is the selection of replacement ewes to be added to the breeding unit of that flock. Whether purchased or raised, replacements need to compliment or advance the genetics already working within the flock. While it is true that ram selection can have the greatest short term impact on a flock, the selection of replacement females of sound structure and genetics will help to ensure the continuance of a high quality, problem-free breeding unit.

To make intelligent replacement additions to a flock that will benefit that flock a shepherd must Continue reading

Now is the Time to Plant Fall Cover Crops for Grazing

Kable Thurlow and Christina Curell, Michigan State University Extension
(Previously published online with MSU Extension – Cover Crops: August 27, 2019)

Cover crops can be a good option for grazing.

Last year, the wet weather during the spring left many fields unplanted. Those fields severed as a great place to seed an annual crop for fall grazing. Best forage yields are obtained when cover crops for fall grazing are planted July up to August 1st in Northern Michigan and August 15th in southern Michigan. After these dates, yield potential decreases as the remaining growing season vanishes. Therefore, we are at the point where they should be planted soon. [Luckily for us here in Ohio, we still have time remaining to get these crops into the ground before yield reducing weather sets it].

Annual cover crop mixtures can make very nutritious and economical grazing crops for spring, summer, fall and early winter grazing in Michigan. Fall grazing is especially beneficial Continue reading

Reproductive Physiology of Sheep

Paula I. Menzies, DVM, MPVM, DECS-RHM, Ruminant Health Management Group, Department of Population Medicine, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph
(Previously published in Merck Manual: Veterinary Manual: June, 2015)

(Image Source: Cornell Small Farms – Cornell University)

Ewes are seasonally polyestrous,cycling every 16–17 days during the breeding season. The major environmental factor controlling the estrous cycle is the photoperiod. Decreasing photoperiod after the summer solstice causes secretion of melatonin, which triggers the hypothalamus to produce gonadotropin-releasing hormone. Geographic location and environmental temperatures also modify the length of anestrus, as does the breed of sheep. Fine-wool breeds (eg. Rambouillet and Merino), tropical breeds, and Dorsets have a shorter anestrous period than other breeds such as the Suffolk, Hampshire, Border Leicester, and Columbia. Regardless of this breed-related variation in the length of the breeding season, all breeds are most fertile in the autumn, and anestrus is an unlikely problem associated with regular annual mating.

The duration of estrus (~30 hr.) is influenced by Continue reading

Flushing Small Ruminants for a Higher Ovulation Rate

Michael Metzger, Michigan State University Extension Educator
(Previously published on MSU Extension, Sheep & Goat: August 6, 2018)

(Image Source: Sheep 101.info)

Increasing the level of nutrition for does and ewes 2-3 weeks prior to and 3 weeks into the breeding season can improve kid/lamb crop in some instances.

When managing a goat/sheep herd farmers are always looking for ways to improve their herd, increase production and raise profitability. One way that a farmer can accomplish this is to implement flushing into their breeding practices. Flushing is a temporary but purposeful increase in the level of nutrition around breeding time. This is done to boost ovulation, conception and embryo implantation rates. Flushing may also increase the proportion of females that exhibit estrus. Flushing can increase lambing and kidding rates by 10-20 percent. This is important because a flock’s lambing/kidding rate is one of the primary factors influencing profitability. Flushing works best in

Continue reading

3 Constituents Beyond Protein and RFV

Rebecca Kern, Animal Scientist, Ward Laboratories Inc.
(Previously published in Progressive Forage: August 4, 2020)

Often, I consult with livestock producers testing forage for their animals. Inevitably there are two numbers on the report they are most concerned with, protein and relative feed value (RFV). Protein is an important value to understand if the forage meets animal requirements, and RFV is a useful index to quickly compare or rank forages.

However, examination of directly measured constituents can help producers understand the characteristics of that forage as it pertains to feeding livestock. So, here are three other constituents to consider when evaluating a forage for livestock feed.

1. Acid detergent fiber (ADF)
This is the least digestible portion of the feed, made up of Continue reading

The Management Continuum

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

(Pipestone Sheep Management Wheel)

According to Websters dictionary, management is defined as the conducting or supervising of something (such as a business) whereas continuum is a coherent whole characterized as a collection, sequence, or progression of values or elements varying by minute degrees. In thinking about the management continuum of a small ruminant enterprise, producers and shepherds alike must ensure progression of each task through precision management. As producers, our role as the owner or animal care taker never ends. Daily chores may seem repetitive and daunting, but as our flocks and herds progress through the stages of production, specific tasks must be completed along the way in order to ensure that we provide for our animals to perform at their optimum.

The management continuum is used to outline each phase of production and highlight key tasks that should be considered. Previously,

Continue reading

Small Ruminant Enterprise Budgeting

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

The following is a short excerpt from Susan Schoenian’s article titled “Economics of Raising Sheep and Goats.” Here, Susan breaks down the basics of a small ruminant enterprise budget. Along with this text, Susan has also provided links to sample budgets at the end of this article that were created at the University of Maryland that focus sheep and goat seedstock (purebred and show wether) production, raising feeder lambs and kids, as well as wool sheep enterprises. Even if you are already a part of one of these businesses, it never hurts to pencil your own operating budget out.

Enterprise budget:
An enterprise budget lists the income and expenses and expected profit (or loss) for a specific agricultural enterprise. It represents one year’s worth of production and expresses profit on a per unit basis. In the case of sheep and goats, profit is expressed per female (ewe or doe). Continue reading

Why are Meat Goats Profitable?

Among our small ruminant enterprises, goats continue to maintain a strong foothold in the marketplace today. Goats, known for their browsing grazing behavior, are beneficial in mixed grazing strategies as they will consume unwanted browse, brush, and weeds that other ruminant species leave behind. In this short presentation, Dr. Reid Redden from Texas A&M highlights these benefits and much more when describing these animals as a value added species to your current operation.

The Threat of Asian Longhorned Tick Continues

Dr. Tim McDermott, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Franklin County
(Previously published in Farm and Dairy: July 23, 2020)

(Image Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Previously highlighted on the OSU Sheep Team last week, my colleague Erika Lyon wrote a great article that discussed the invasive Asian Longhorned Tick. I want to give an update on where that tick is now, where its new host range is located, and what potential disease problems to look out for.

Major concern:
The Asian longhorned tick is native to East Asia as well as Australia and New Zealand. It had not previously been found in the United States prior to its discovery on a farm in New Jersey in the fall of 2017. This tick is a major concern as it reproduces via parthenogenesis, which means thatthe female does not need a male in order to reproduce, she can start laying eggs, which are genetic clones, that can overwhelm the host in very large numbers.

It has been found on

Continue reading

Start Checking Your Livestock for the Asian Longhorned Tick

Erika Lyon, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Jefferson and Harrison Counties
(Previously published in Farm and Dairy: January 24, 2019)

(Image Source: Farm and Dairy)

You may have heard about a new(ish) tick to the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control recently published a news release on the spread of the Asian longhorned tick (Haemaphysalis longicornis), which is now found in eight states: Connecticut, New Jersey, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, New York, Pennsylvania, and Arkansas, and it is right next door to Ohio.

Researchers suspect this tick has been in New Jersey since 2013 even though it was first confirmed on sheep in the U.S. over a year ago. Much about this tick is unknown — it is the first new tick found in the U.S. in roughly 80 years. Unfortunately, since this tick has yet to be studied in its new environments, much is unknown about its ability to transmit disease and how well these populations are able to survive the winter.

What we do know is Continue reading

Nutritional Requirements of Sheep: Minerals and Vitamins

Dr. David G. Pugh, DVM, MS, MAg, DACT, DACVN, DACVM, Auburn University
(Previously published online with the Merck Manual – Veterinary Manual: January, 2014)

Minerals:
Sheep require the major minerals sodium, chlorine, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sulfur, potassium, and trace minerals, including cobalt, copper, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, zinc, and selenium. Trace mineralized salt provides an economical way to prevent deficiencies of sodium, chlorine, iodine, manganese, cobalt, copper, iron, and zinc. Selenium should be included in rations, mineral mixtures, or other supplements in deficient areas. Sheep diets usually contain sufficient potassium, iron, magnesium, sulfur, and manganese. Of the trace minerals, iodine, cobalt, and copper status in ewes are best assessed via analysis of liver biopsy tissue. Zinc adequacy can be assessed from the careful collection of nonhemolyzed blood placed in trace element–free collection tubes. Selenium status is easily assessed by collection of whole, preferably heparinized, blood.

Salt:
In the USA, except on certain alkaline areas of the western range and along the seacoast, sheep should be provided with Continue reading

2020 Ohio Sheep Day Cancelled

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

Ohio Sheep Day, a favorite among many sheep producers across the state of Ohio, has been canceled for 2020. Originally scheduled for July 11th and then rescheduled for October 3rd, Ohio Sheep Day was set to provide producers with an updated insight of the work being conducted at the OARDC Sheep Unit in Wooster, Ohio. Among the topics, the introduction of the units newest EID system and grilling 101 highlighting everything lamb were sure to be big hits. However, due to the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, the planning committee has chosen to cancel the event for this year. As a result, we plan to provide this information to you, our shepherds, at the 2021 Ohio Sheep Day set for July 10th at the same location with the same topics and much more! In the meantime, the OSU Sheep Team plans to provide research and farm video updates of what we have been up to at our research units. Until we are able to see you in person again, happy shepherding!

Risky Weeds in Risky Times

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Noble County

Farming is truly risky business. Every moment of every day on the farm holds inherent risk. The main duties of the farm manager in any sector are to identify, evaluate, and mitigate risk. All the little steps of risk mitigation add up to make a big difference that we can’t always see, but can still save us time, money, and distress in the future.

One of the risks forage managers face on a regular basis is the threat of persistent weeds. Weeds are an issue that compound over time if not addressed soon after detection. Choosing to make the investment in weed prevention and control early can help prevent exponential population growth that is increasingly difficult to manage.

Any plant in the wrong place can be considered a weed, but Continue reading

Pasture Management in Dry Weather

Dr. David Barker, Professor – Horticulture and Crop Science, The Ohio State University

Dry weather in recent weeks throughout Ohio has raised several questions about how pastures should be managed during drought. Although the experts don’t all agree if this period of dry weather meets the definition of a drought (yet), there is no doubt that pasture growth will slow to zero. How should we be grazing our pastures in mid-summer?

Avoid over-grazing
Unfortunately, without rain or irrigation pastures will not grow, and close grazing will exaggerate this effect. Leaf removal by grazing (or mowing) results in a roughly similar proportion of root death. During moist conditions, roots can recover quite quickly, however, grazing during drought will reduce water uptake due to root loss. As a general rule of thumb, grazing below 2 or 3 inches will accelerate drought effects on pastures, and also, slow recovery once rain does come. Of course, optimum grazing height and management varies with Continue reading

Control of Sheep Pests

Ralph E. Williams, Extension Entomologist, Purdue University
(Previously published online as a white paper with Purdue Extension, Purdue University)

(Image Source: Purdue Extension, Purdue University)

Sheep Keds and Sheep Lice
Sheep Keds
The sheep ked (Melophagus ovinus), often called the sheep “tick”, is a common pest of sheep. It looks somewhat like a tick but is actually a wingless fly, grayish-brown in color and 1/4 inch long. Its entire life cycle is spent on the host, except when accidentally dislodged; and it will readily crawl from one animal to another.

Sheep keds live 6-8 months, during which time the female produces about 15 young at the rate of approximately one a week. Breeding is continuous, although slower in winter; and there are several generations each year. Unlike most insects, the female gives birth to fullgrown maggots, one at a time, which are attached to wool strands about the neck, inside the thighs and along the belly. Within a few hours after birth, the larval skin turns brown and forms a hard puparium. Fully developed keds Continue reading

Replacing “Junk” Forage with “Quality” Forage

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Noble County

Do these comments sound familiar to you?:

  • “I really need to do something with that junk pasture this year.”
  • “The bales off that hayfield are junk. I’m going to reseed it.”

Issues with “junk forage” can include low yields, weed encroachment, and low-quality feed value. Forage growers tend to lament over junk forage two of the four seasons of the year. One is the summer, when their hay equipment is running, their animals are grazing, and the forage is right in front of their eyes. The other is winter, when forage is in short supply, quality issues are leading to low animal productivity, and when pastures look more like mud spas. The time to make progress on correcting the factors that lead to Continue reading

Breeding Soundness Examination of the Ram and Buck

David C. Van Metre, DVM, DACVIM Extension Veterinarian, Colorado State University
(Previously published online with Veterinary Extension through Colorado State University)

(Purdue Extension, Purdue University)

Veterinarians are well positioned to become valued participants in sheep flock and goat health programs through introduction of certain practices that have high potential to provide direct economic benefit to the producer. Opportune times for veterinary intervention include evaluation of the breeding flock in the fall prior to breeding, late fall / early winter pregnancy diagnosis, and lambing / kidding during the spring. To optimize the size of the following spring’s lamb or kid crop, the primary goal of the pre-breeding health program should be optimization of fertility through nutritional management and disease control measures, as well as documentation of Continue reading

What to Consider Before Adopting Multi-species Grazing

Rob Cook, Planned Consultation Manager and Pasture and Range Consultant
(Previously published on Noble Research Institute: October 1, 2017)

(Image Source: Cornell University)

Grazing land managers who graze multiple livestock species in the same animal groups or on the same acres of land see ecological as well as economic benefits that could improve the sustainability of their operations. Multi-species grazing can be used to more effectively utilize all of the browse and forage in pastures, target weeds and brush, and reduce parasite loads across pastures. These benefits could also lead to increased revenues or decreased costs.

Regardless, using multiple species to capture these benefits is not always sunny days. Including additional species on the ranch will add

Continue reading

On-farm Benefits of using EID (Electronic Identification)

Victoria Agriculture
(Previously published online with Agriculture Victoria)

(Image Source: Shearwell)

Accurate identification of sheep
A Sheep Electronic Identification (EID) system uses an electronic ear tag or device, marking each animal with its own, individual identifying number. There are many potential flock and cost management benefits of EID for producers to utilize on the farm.

The EID tag or device contains a microchip that can be read electronically in a fraction of a second by producers who have a suitable reader (panel or handheld). With electronic reading, transcription errors can be eliminated saving both time and labor in the yards [and barns] whilst increasing the accuracy of your information.

Individual animal management
Within a flock there is a substantial variation in the characteristics that influence an animal’s production level. Identifying and Continue reading

Oats as a Late Summer Forage Crop

Jason Hartschuh, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Crawford County
Al Gahler, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Sandusky County
(Previously published in The Ohio Farmer: May 19, 2020)

Oats make an excellent double crop after wheat.

Oats is traditionally planted as the first crop in early April as a grain crop or an early season forage. One of the beauties of oats is its versatility in planting date. Oats can also be planted in the summer as an early fall forage for harvest or grazing.

Summer oats has a wide planting window but performs much better with an application of nitrogen and may benefit from a fungicide application to improve quality. During the summer of 2019 we conducted a study to examine the planting of oats from July 15th through early September to examine tonnage and forage quality. Through this trial we examined planting date, yield, forage quality and an application of foliar fungicide to control oats crown rust.

Continue reading

Minerals and Vitamins for Sheep

Dr. Scott Greiner, Extension Animal Scientist – Sheep, Virginia Tech
Mark L. Wahlberg, Extension Animal Scientist, Virginia Tech
(Previously published on the Virginia Cooperative Extension web page)

(Liebig’s Barrel – Liebig’s Law of the Minimum)

Proper animal nutrition means giving the animals the proper amount of all nutrients necessary for optimum production. This involves knowledge of the nutrients themselves, factors that affect the requirements of animals, and the feeds used to deliver those nutrients. Cost is always a consideration for profit-motivated producers. This interplay of factors can become very intricate, but it need not be.

For the ewe flock, proper nutrition involves giving animals all the good quality forage they want, and supplementing that with nutrients that may be deficient. So the basics of Continue reading

Time and Change: Evaluating OSU Extension Sheep Team Programming

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team
Garth Ruff, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Henry County

We’ve used the phrase here before – “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.” In some instances, this phrase holds true in its purpose. However, for those interested in pushing the limits, go beyond the bounds of their comfort zone, and learn something new – we must change. Change can be a challenge, or it can be viewed as an opportunity. As our industries continue to be challenged with everything from the recent COVID-19 pandemic to parasites in the fields, we must learn to evolve and so too does The Ohio State University Extension Sheep Team. Since our relaunch just three short years ago, The OSU Sheep Team continues to provide you, our readers, with the latest tips, tricks, and scientific based information on small ruminant management. We strive to provide information on all aspects of our unique management systems by providing timely information in the form of articles, info-graphics, interactive videos, and personal interactions. However, we can’t stop here!

Next week on Monday, July 6th, subscribers to the OSU Sheep Team weekly email update will be receiving an individual email containing a link to participate in a short impact survey. Continue reading

Avoid Heat Stress in Your Sheep and Goats

Michael Metzger, Michigan State University Extension Educator
(Previously published on MSU Extension, Sheep & Goat: June 29, 2012)

Make sure your sheep and goats have access to plenty of clean fresh water on hot, humid days.

Extreme heat is stressful to livestock, as well as people. High temperatures are even more problematic in states like Michigan, because high temperatures are also often accompanied by high humidity. The heat index (temperature plus humidity) is a more accurate measure of heat stress than temperature alone. Continue reading

Ag-note: Toxic Plants and Small Ruminants – Wild Cherry

Autum Ballard, Madison Findley, Emily Gaglione, and Cassandra Randolph, OSU Animal Science Undergraduate Students
Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

Toxic Plants and Small Ruminants: Wild Cherry
** Follow the link above to view the Ag-note.

(Image Source: Indiana Timber and Veneer, LLC)

As we wrap up one of our last Animal Sciences undergraduate student Ag-notes for the page, students Autum Ballard, Madison Findley, Emily Gaglione, and Cassandra Randolph have chosen to highlight a toxic plant that is known to be an issue in livestock pastures, especially during the peak of summer among high wind systems – Wild Cherry trees. Wild Cherry, a tree commonly found in Ohio woodlands, can cause severe health issues in livestock when plant material is consumed by livestock after the plant has been stressed. Continue reading

Making Good Hay in a Bad Year

Mindy Ward, Editor, Missouri Ruralist – Farm Progress
(Previously published in Missouri Ruralist: June 9, 2020)

Wrapping large round bales with higher moisture and plastic may help get hay off the field faster.

It seems as though rainy springs are becoming more of a haymaking tradition than an exception. Year in and year out, farmers fight to find the four or five consecutive days to let it dry, leaving some baling wet forage.

Tim Schnakenberg, University of Missouri Extension field specialist in agronomy, says the baleage harvest system is a good option for farmers because many of today’s round balers are designed to handle wetter forages, and they can be cost-effective.

“When we look at conventional silage systems,” he says, “we find that Continue reading

Grazing Summer Annuals

Brad Schick, University of Nebraska Extension
(Previously published Drovers Newsletter: June 26, 2018)

Grazing summer annual grasses can be a great addition to an operation when annuals are chosen correctly and grazing plans are used.

Grazing summer annual grasses is a great way to add flexibility to an operation, but in order to make it worth your time and money some management decisions are required. Your goals and your location will determine what type of summer annual you should plant. This article will address:

1. Type of annual and planting date
2. Timing of grazing
3. Prussic acid and nitrates Continue reading

Prevent Parasites Through Grazing Management

Melanie Barkley, Livestock Extension Educator, Penn State Extension
(previously published with Penn State Extension: May 31, 2017)

Grazing management and genetic selection can help your flock minimize the impact of parasites.

Parasites continue to plague many sheep and goat producers throughout the grazing season. Internal parasites decrease growth rates and in high levels can even cause death. However, sheep and goat producers can follow several practices to minimize the impacts to their flock or herd. These practices center on grazing management, but can also include genetic selection principles.

Livestock pass internal parasite eggs in their manure. These eggs then hatch and go through several larval stages until they reach an infective stage. This can take as little as six days to go from egg to infective stage. Therefore, producers can use grazing rotations to Continue reading

ASI Feature: Proper Feeding of Ewes During Breeding and Pregnancy

As we prepare for the breeding season, it is important to consider the Body Condition Score of your flock as well as their nutritional needs before, during, and after breeding. Feeding for the breeding season doesn’t stop once the ewes are bred. It is important to provide gestating ewes with an optimum feeding regiment, whether that be in the form of grain, pasture, or a combination of both to ensure a successful breeding season.

Silage – Part 2: Making More Sense Than Ever for Sheep Production

Richard Ehrhardt, Michigan State University Extension Specialist, Small Ruminants
(Previously published on MSU Extension, Sheep & Goat: May 20, 2015)

Forms of silage
There are primarily two types of silage products fed to sheep: baled silage and precision-cut silage. Baled silage is simply large bales, round or square, baled when the forage is wilted and covered with stretch wrap plastic. As previously mentioned in Silage – Part 1, this means waiting much less than dry hay, only until the forage is around 40-60 percent moisture – under ideal drying conditions, this is often means cutting in the morning and baling at night. Silage makes it possible. Continue reading

Control of Multiflora Rose in Pastures

Dean Kreager, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Licking County
(Previously published in Farm and Dairy: May 7, 2020)

(Image Source: AgWeb)

There is one pasture project that never seems to go away. That is controlling the multiflora rose. The plant was first introduced into the United States in 1866 to be used as a rootstock for grafting roses. About 70 years later the U.S. Soil Conservation Service promoted the use of multiflora rose as a “living fence” and a means of erosion control. The adaptability of this plant allowed it to get out of control. Over the years this plant has made the list of noxious weeds in many states and is taking over many pastures in this part of the country. The battle to gain control is difficult and maintenance is continual.

The leaves and thorns on this plant make it easy to identify as a rose. Left on its own, this plant can quickly form dense thickets over 6 feet high. The white flowers it produces in May to June lead to seeds that birds are more than happy to spread throughout pastures. One multiflora rose can produce up to Continue reading

Preparing the Flock for the Breeding Season

Dr. Scott Greiner, Extension Animal Scientist – Sheep, Virginia Tech
(Previously published on the Virginia Cooperative Extension web page)

If you can believe it, we are already in the first week of June! The reality of breeding season is real for some of our breeders here in the state of Ohio. Others may be several months out, however, regardless of when you will begin the breeding season on your operation it is important to be prepared. Breeding season is more than just joining ewes and rams together, it takes months of preparation prior to this to ensure a successful season. Although this article has some age, it still remains to be a nice checklist on how to manage your rams and ewes prior to the breeding season.

Rams:
High temperatures can be detrimental to ram fertility, reducing pregnancy rates and lambing percentages. Heat stress occurs when the scrotum is not able to reduce the temperature of the testicles below normal body temperature. Although heat stressed rams may Continue reading

USDA Announces Details of Direct Assistance to Farmers through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program

USDA Press
(Previously published on USDA Media Press Release page: May 19, 2020)

Farmers and Ranchers to Receive Direct Support for Losses Related to COVID-19

(Image Source: National Center for Appropriate Technology)

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced details of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), which will provide up to $16 billion in direct payments to deliver relief to America’s farmers and ranchers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to this direct support to farmers and ranchers, USDA’s Farmers to Families Food Box program is partnering with regional and local distributors, whose workforces have been significantly impacted by the closure of many restaurants, hotels, and other food service entities, to purchase $3 billion in fresh produce, dairy, and meat and deliver boxes to Americans in need. Continue reading

Silage – Part 1: Making More Sense Than Ever for Sheep Production

Richard Ehrhardt, Michigan State University Extension Specialist, Small Ruminants
(Previously published on MSU Extension, Sheep & Goat: May 10, 2015)

(Image Source: Michigan State University)

A closer look at adding silage to your sheep feeding program.

Have you ever considered making and feeding silage? This is a common question Michigan State University Extension ask producers when reviewing their forage plans, so let’s take a closer look at silage feeding systems to help you consider if it could be a good fit for your farm. I have been feeding silage for about 15 years, and it is clear to me that my particular program would not work without silage as a centerpiece of my feeding program.

Note in the picture how the plastic is left on the bottom of the bale to retard spoilage in this simple feeding system. This high-quality forage was made from a predominantly grass pasture, harvested at the right time and carefully processed to insure quality. Baled silage is Continue reading

Potential for Toxic Nitrate Levels in Forages

Dr. Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist, The Ohio State University
(Previously published in the C.O.R.N. Newsletter 2020-13)

The recent cold and cloudy weather has raised the concern for higher nitrate levels in forages that could potentially be toxic to animals consuming those forages. It is true that any stress condition that slows plant growth and metabolism can increase the risk of higher plant nitrate levels. This article discusses factors to consider, especially given the recent cold weather we have been experiencing in Ohio and surrounding regions.

Plants readily take up nitrates from the soil, even under colder conditions, and especially since we have plentiful soil moisture to facilitate uptake. Once in the plant, nitrate is converted to nitrite, then ammonia, and finally into amino acids and plant protein. Any environmental stress that Continue reading

An In-Depth Look at Ivermectin

Susan Schoenian, Sheep & Goat Specialist, University of Maryland Small Ruminant Extension Program
(Previously published in Wild and Wooly – Spring 2020)

(Image Source: Valley Vet Supply)

Recently, several media outlets reported the success of an in vitro study conducted in Australia regarding the antiviral effects of ivermectin on the virus that causes COVID-19. An in vitro study is performed outside the living organism, such as in a petri dish; where- as, an in vivo study is conducted in a living organism. A treatment may work in vitro but not in vivo or it may work in both or neither.

Ivermectin has shown in vitro activity against the zika virus, but its effect Continue reading

Marketing Your Forages

A big shout out to Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Noble County for her help in the development of this weeks newsletter! It takes a team to keep this page active and going. We are certainly thankful to have an amazing group that supports our small ruminant industry! Please enjoy this piece from Christine as she walks us through the process of appraising and marketing our forages.

Best Management Practices for De-worming Sheep and Goats

With warmer weather projected in the near forecast and pastures beginning to become full and lush, many producers have or will soon be turning their stock out onto pasture. It is critically important that we monitor the health and well-being of our animals on a daily basis. For those that may need treatment due to parasitic infection, it is important to understand which de-worming products to use at the appropriate time and how to correctly incorporate them into your management system.

Mortality Composting for Small Ruminant Producers

Richard Ehrhardt, Michigan State University Extension Specialist, Small Ruminants
Dale Rozeboom, Michigan State University Extension
(Previously published on MSU Extension, Sheep & Goat: January 28, 2020)

(Image Source: MSU Extension)

This article discusses the benefits of composting small ruminants and how to do it.

Unfortunately, mortality is a reality of any livestock operation.  But is it possible to turn this loss into some form of gain? The answer is yes! “The Bodies of Dead Animals Act” (BODA); Act 239 of 1982 and as amended is Michigan law that stipulates legal means of mortality management. Under BODA, there are six alternatives to disposal including: burial, incineration, rendering, landfill, composting, and anaerobic digestion. Composting is Continue reading

Grasses are Talking: Are You Listening?

Mike Rankin, Hay and Forage Grower managing editor
(Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: May 5, 2020)

Alfalfa may be known as the “Queen of Forages,” but there’s no disputing the fact that grasses are grown more widely across the U.S. and provide the backbone of the greater forage industry.

Grass utilization and prominence varies with region:

  •  Large fields of timothy for export in the Northwest
  • Vast expanses of native grasses in the Great Plains
  • Acres of bermudagrass in the South
  • Mixed cool-season grass pastures in the Midwest
  • Millions of acres of tall fescue through the mid-South
  • Alfalfa-grass mixtures in the Northeast
  • And the list goes on

Although different species of grasses have unique characteristics, as a group they are generally Continue reading

How Late Can I Plant Forages?

Dr. Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist, The Ohio State University
(Previously published in the C.O.R.N. Newsletter 2020-12)

The Ohio Agronomy Guide states that most cool-season perennial forages should be planted by the first of May. While some of you reading this article were able to plant forages by now, many of us (myself included) once again were not able to meet that deadline due to wet weather. So how hard and fast is the May 1 deadline, especially in a cold spring like we have experienced? Don’t we have a little more time to plant forages? I hate to say this, but the answer is neither simple nor clear cut.

The planting deadlines in the Ohio Agronomy Guide are based on data and years of experience of what is best management practice. The risk of stand establishment problems increases as we move further and further past the published deadlines. Tell me it will not turn hot and dry in early to mid-June and that weeds won’t emerge and grow like gangbusters with all the moisture we’ve had, then I’ll tell you that forage plantings can still be successful. Unfortunately, the law of Continue reading

Opportunities Raising Feeder Lambs

Lyle A. Roe, Sheep and Lamb Marketing Assistant, Equity Cooperative Livestock Sales Association
(Previously published as a Extension white paper: University of Wisconsin)

As with any business, successful sheep operations routinely take time to inventory their resources and opportunities. This information can then be used to make changes (if warranted) in their operation to meet market demands. This may be done in a formal process but is more likely to be a continual process.

The sheep industry is changing. Sheep numbers in most of the United States are decreasing. Many flocks are being dissolved or decreased in size. This is especially true in the western states. One of the resulting effects has been a decrease in the availability of feeder lambs, making it harder for lamb feeders to purchase the number of feeder lambs they need.

This opens up the opportunity for sheep producers in Wisconsin to produce feeder lambs for sale to lamb feeders. Other factors making this possible are: Continue reading

Hay Making and the Balancing Act . . . Quality vs. Quantity!

Stan Smith, OSU Extension PA, Fairfield County
(Previously published in the Spring 2020 issue of The Ohio Cattleman)

With age comes experience, and with experience eventually comes some of those things that you can only shake your head at. This is the time of year when I usually begin to hear one of my favorites, “I don’t like to get in hurry with that first cutting . . . we don’t want it rained on, and I like to let it grow a little longer so we get more. Besides, even if made a little late, it’s still got to be better than snowballs!

If nothing else, the last two springs have taught us this one thing. Not all first cutting forage is better than snowballs. In fact, the inability to make hay in a timely fashion has cost Midwest operators lots in terms of hay quality that’s resulted in loss of body condition, breed back issues, poor quality colostrum, and ultimately poor animal health and performance. If there was ever a time to carefully balance hay quality issues with the quantity of hay needed, weather permitting, this must be it! In fact, with some aggressive planning and a little cooperation from Mother Nature, perhaps we can have both quality and quantity this year. Following are Continue reading

COVID-19 Impact on Ohio Sheep Producers

Tim Barnes, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Marion County

(Image Source: Kunc and Harvest Public Media)

Lambs are just one of the many agricultural commodities that have been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. There is never a good time for a pandemic to strike, but COVID-19 hit the sheep industry at the traditional best market price. Spring lambs are a family favorite for traditional Easter meals (April 12), Orthodox Easter (April 23), the Muslin feasts of Ramadan (April 23 to May 23), some Jewish sects for Passover (April 8-16), and the secular May 10 Mother’s Day celebration.

America’s biggest market for fresh lamb is in the area from Baltimore to Boston. Major East Coast packers relay on the close location of Ohio producers (Ohio has the 5th most producers in the US) to provide a steady source of fresh lamb. The “white tablecloth restaurants” and the other segments of the food service industry account for greater than 50% of the United State’s lamb consumption. As demand builds back to pre-pandemic levels, Ohio lambs will Continue reading

Lamb Management During Poor Marketing Conditions

Shelby Filley, Oregon State University, Regional Livestock and Forage
(Previously published on the Oregon State University Extension page: August, 2019)

Situation and Outlook
Some years the market for feeder and slaughter lamb prices isn’t very strong. Detailed information can be found in market reports. Follow prices on these websites:

By looking at the seasonal price index on feeders and slaughter lambs you can follow past trends in prices. However, there is no indication that these trends will hold true or that there will be any improvement in prices in the immediate future.

Things to Consider
The following information is not a list of recommendations for what you should do, but rather it is a

Continue reading

Wet Years have Favored Weeds

Melissa Bravo, agronomic and livestock management consultant
Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: April 21, 2020)

Here we go again. Another mild winter of heave and thaw with little snow cover to protect the shallow roots and crowns of improved forage crops.

Without that snow barrier, species such as alfalfa and timothy — the most susceptible of our non-native forages — are subject to winter injury, which thins stands. This leaves less competition for weeds to establish and flourish.

Learning some skills to evaluate stand composition before you harvest first-cutting hay can add to profitability, but you must first be able to identify problem hayfield and pasture weeds.

During the dead of winter, most fields look uniformly brown. Then, as temperatures begin to warm, they look uniformly green. The problem is that sometimes “green” may consist of more than just desired forage species. Weeds can contribute to yield, but they also can Continue reading

What to Do About Mold in Feed

Erika Lyon, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Jefferson and Harrison Counties
(Previously published online with Ohio Farmer: April 7, 2020)

Now that we are getting into the summer months, moldy feed might not be on your mind right now, especially if your livestock are grazing. But now is a great time to be cognizant of the conditions that lead to moldy feed in the winter months. The conditions that forages are grown and harvested in can determine the risk of mold developing later in storage.

First, let’s talk about what mold is. When we say something appears “moldy,” it usually has a dusty or fuzzy appearance or seems off-color. Maybe it produces a certain moldy odor. While many microbes might be referenced when we say mold, it is usually one group of microbes that is Continue reading

Grass Tetany Could be Looming for Cattle and Sheep

Dr. Ted Wiseman, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Perry County
(Previously published online with Farm and Dairy: February 11, 2016)

(Image Source: West et al., 2002 – Massey University)

Are your pastures ready for spring and your livestock ready for pasture?

As fast as this year seems to be going, pastures will be greening up and it will be time to start grazing again. Although we haven’t had much of a winter so far, and I hope I am not jinxing us by mentioning it here.

Spring arrives soon
Soon it will be time to start preparing our livestock for lush green pastures. Last year was a tough year for getting stored forages harvested, especially first cutting hay.

Supplement energy
Some hay analysis I have seen this past year would suggest that

Continue reading

Establishing New Forage Stands

Dr. Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist, The Ohio State University
(Previously published in the C.O.R.N. Newsletter 2020-08)

Early spring provides one of the two preferred times to seed perennial cool-season forages, the other being late summer. Two primary difficulties with spring plantings are finding a good window of opportunity when soils are dry enough. The outlook for this spring is for planting opportunities to be few and short. As planting is delayed, the risk increases because of more competition from weeds and summer heat when seedlings are small and vulnerable to drying out. An accompanying article on preparing for planting along with the following 10 steps will help improve your chances for successful forage establishment in the spring. Continue reading

Why Didn’t My Vaccine Work this Year?

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

(Image Source: NADIS)

I’m sure that many of you are familiar with the old adage of “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.” In general, this piece of advice can be misleading as change is needed and certainly essential when trying to improve the efficiency of your operation. However, when it comes to vaccination programs on your farm, this piece of advice fits perfectly. Vaccines are administered as a means to control an underlying issue within your flock or herd. It is recommended to not vaccinate for a specific disease unless you currently or suspect that you will have issues. This is in part due to the nature of the vaccines. Vaccines contain the organism in which create disease. This organism is modified so that the host is able to mount an effective immune response without becoming ill from the disease. As a result, producers willingly give their flock or herd a specific disease; but if your operation does not have issues with it, it is not recommended that you give the vaccine if it is not needed. However, there is one exception is this rule. It is highly recommended that each operation vaccinate with CD&T. The CD&T vaccine is used to protect against Clostridium perfringens types C and D (overeating disease) as well as clostridium tetani (tetanus). For those interested in learning more about this vaccine, check out this Ag-note: Vaccinating with CDT.

Now you maybe thinking, why are we still talking about CD&T? This past spring I have received more questions than ever regarding sick and/or compromised lambs. By sick lambs, I’m not talking about those that have a couch or elevated temperature, I’m talking about those lambs that seem to be acting abnormally. According to the producers, all vaccination protocols that are commonly followed on-farm where adhered to. So, what went wrong this year? Continue reading

Tactics to Win the Battle Against Foot Rot

Richard Ehrhardt, Michigan State University Extension Specialist, Small Ruminants
(Previously published on MSU Extension, Sheep & Goat: January 28, 2020)

This article discusses the difference between foot rot and foot scald and how to prevent and treat it.

Foot rot is arguably the costliest disease in the sheep and goat industry in high rainfall areas of the USA (>30 inches per year) and has contributed greatly to the view that sheep and goat production are labor intensive. Animals become severely lame when infected and cannot graze easily or get to the feed bunk. This results in poor growth, poor conception and greatly increased risk for metabolic diseases such as pregnancy toxemia. Foot rot-free status provides producers options to sell replacement breeding stock for high value. Conditions for successful eradication improve as the soil dries during the summer and early fall. Eradication efforts also require a significant labor investment, so one should be sure to plan for this for the program to succeed. Continue reading

Forage Species Selection and Alternatives for Ohio

With several of us on quarantine, you may have a bit more time on your hands to think about how you will renovate your pastures this year or perhaps work on that new hay seeding that you have been putting off for the past few years. Regardless of your situation, developing a comprehensive understanding of forage species is key for optimal forage establishment and on-farm utilization. Although this recording is a bit dated, it still contains a lot of useful information in terms of forage specie types and their uses. Enjoy!

Sheep Update: Creep Feeding Lambs

Dr. Scott Greiner, Extension Animal Scientist – Sheep, Virginia Tech
(Previously published on the Virginia Cooperative Extension web page)

(Image Source: Ketcham’s Sheep Equipment)

Creep feeding young lambs while still nursing the ewe can provide valuable supplemental weight gain. This added weight gain has the most economic value for lambs managed in an intensive, early weaning production system where lambs will be maintained in a dry-lot. Conversely, for lambs that will be developed on pasture throughout the spring and summer, creep feeding would be of less value due to the relative expense of this early weight gain. Creep feeding also is beneficial for flocks with a high number of multiple births, or flocks with ewes having limited milk production.

Young lambs may be started on creep feed as early as 10 days of age. Although significant amounts of feed are normally not consumed until 3-4 weeks of age, providing access to creep feed at an early age allows lambs to develop a habit of eating dry feed, and helps Continue reading

Grass Cover Crops; Bargain Feed or Bedding?

Jason Hartschuh, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Crawford County and Stan Smith, OSU Extension PA, Fairfield County
(Previously published on Ohio Farmer: February 27, 2020)

(Image Source: NRCS-USDA)

With somewhere around 1.5 million acres that were not planted last spring to the intended crops of corn or soybeans due to the extraordinary weather, today, Ohio farmers likely have more acres of cereal rye planted for cover than at any time in previous history. At the same time, cattlemen and livestock owners are facing forage shortages that rival the drought of 2012. Adding insult to injury, the inventory of straw bedding is similarly very short, and will likely remain so until at least mid-summer.

With the opportunity for newly harvested forages still 2 or 3 months away, and straw even further out, perhaps it’s time to take a look at the opportunity for realizing either feed or bedding from cereal rye, or maybe even one of our other biennial grass crops. Continue reading

Benefits of Accelerated Sheep Production

Last week we highlighted the topic of rearing lambs artificially and how this may be more common than one may think in highly prolific and accelerated systems. This week we thought that it would be beneficial to introduce some of these accelerated lambing systems. Sponsored by the American Sheep Industry’s Let’s Grow program, Dr. Richard Ehrhardt with Michigan State University tours four accelerated flocks across the nation and discusses the benefits and challenges of these systems. Be sure to check this quick clip out!

Artificial Lamb Rearing

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

Artificial lamb rearing: Transitioning from nuisance to potential profit center.

(Image Source: Balancing Rock Farm)

Let’s face it, every shepherd has experienced at least once the joys and pains of raising orphan lambs. Raising lambs artificially may be the result of mis-mothering, losing a ewe due to health and/or birthing complications, lack of colostrum, lambs that can’t be cross fostered, or simply due to ewes giving birth to larger litters. Yes – you read that correctly, some sheep breeds have litters! Raising lambs artificially can be challenging as it becomes a full time job. To avoid digestive upset, young lambs should be fed in small meals multiple times per day just as they would with the ewe. However, this may not always be practical for the producer. When this becomes the case, these lambs may be consider a nuisance to some. However, Continue reading

Be Careful on When to Start Grazing

Chris Penrose, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Morgan County

Be careful on when to start grazing: you may not want to rush it and we may need to fix it.

One goal I have had with livestock grazing over the years is to start as soon as I can. I have my  spring calving cows on stockpiled grass now and they are calving on a nice sod. It is my hope that I will not have to feed them any more hay. Many years this works and some years it does not. On my farm, grass has started to grow.

If March continues like the way it is going, I suggest we don’t rush things as we have a couple issues that could be going on. First, growth is a little slow this spring, and second, many pastures have sustained abnormal damage this winter from the wet conditions we are still having. If you have fields that were Continue reading

Ag-note: Vaccinating with CDT

Kelvin Moore, Sade Payne, Elizabeth Spahr, OSU Animal Science Undergraduate Students
Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

CDT Vaccine: When, How, and Why
** Follow the link above to view the Ag-note.

(Image Source: Valleyvet.com)

With all that is happening in our world today,  it may be easy to over look some of the day-to-day management practices on-farm and think that they may be able to wait just a few more days or not at all. As we are aware, the best precautionary steps in avoiding any disease is to vaccinate. Therefore, this week we have decided to re-visit an Ag-note posted a few years back from OSU students Kelvin Moore, Sade Payne, and Elizabeth Spahr to highlight the importance of a sound vaccination program using the CDT vaccine. Continue reading

Good Choices on Rams Now Translates to Good Flock Production Later

James Thompson, Sheep Specialist (retired), Oregon State University
(Previously published on with the Oregon State University Extension Service)

There is no room for snap judgments when selecting breeding sheep. Next year’s lamb crop depends on our choices now. Take the time and the gas to drive around and look at prospects. Always keep your improvement plan in mind; choose only rams and ewes that will move you toward your goal. The ram contributes 80% – 90% of the genetic improvement to the flock. A good ram does not cost—it pays. An outstanding sire can’t be purchased for market price, and you can’t expect outstanding lambs from a scrub ram. Keep the following in mind as you look at prospects: Continue reading

Pasture Species Selection for Sheep

Dan Undersander, Extension Forage Agronomist, University of Wisconsin
(Previously published on the University of Wisconsin-Madison Extension page)

Pasture and hay forage crops generally fall into four categories:

  1. Legumes
  2. Cool Season Grasses
  3. Warm Season Grasses
  4. Alternative/annual forages

The last category includes many perennials crops, such as rape, kale, comfrey, and all annual forage crops, such as sudangrass, sorghum, and various millets. None of these should be considered for sheep pasture other than in emergency situations.

Warm season grasses are generally Continue reading

Scabby (Sore) Mouth (Orf) – A Disease of Sheep and Goats

Nicky Stone, Tony Brightling, and Susan Bibby, Agriculture Victoria
(Previously published online with Agriculture Victoria)

With an abnormally warm winter, we have heard several reports of producers experiencing serve issues with sore mouth already this year. For those that have not experienced these issues, be sure to join the authors above as they outline the mode of infection and provide some insight on how to control for this disease.

Scabby mouth (contagious ecthyma, orf) is a highly contagious, viral disease of sheep, goats, and occasionally humans. This disease is a potential problem of live sheep exports [and confinement type operations] due to the close confinement of animals and the feeding of sheep with pellets and hay that cause minor abrasions to the mouth and lips. Continue reading

2020 Spring Sheep Shearing School Announced

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

The Ohio Sheep Improvement Association in conjunction with The Ohio State University Extension are pleased to announce that they will be offering a spring sheep shearing school scheduled for April 17-18, 2020 from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm at the Dave Cable Farm in Hebron, Ohio.

During this two day schooling event, attendees will be given the opportunity to learn how to properly shear a sheep using the Australian shearing method. Those in attendance Continue reading

Forage Focus: Fungal Growth in Stored Forages

In this months episode of Forage Focus, join host Christine Gelley and guest Erika Lyon as they discuss the topic of fungal growth, which can lead to animal health issues revolving around mold in stored forages. With this episode being approximately 50 minutes in length, we have provided an outline with specific time stamps below the video that can be used to find exactly what you may be looking for. Enjoy!

Continue reading

7 Common Fencing Mistakes

Alaina Burt, Editor, Beef Magazine
(Previously published in Beef Magazine: March 24, 2015)

Have your pastures began to green up with the recent warm temperatures and as a result have decide to turn your animals out onto pasture? When is the last time that you checked the fence line along the tree or property line? Do you use some form of electric fence to keep livestock in and wildlife out? As we begin to plan for the 2020 grazing season, the quality of your fence will play a huge role in the success of your grazing season.

Here are seven of the most common errors in livestock fencing, and how to avoid them.

Continue reading

Small Ruminant Vaccine Program Considerations

Kevin Pelzer DVM MPVM, Diplomate of ACVPM, Virginia/Maryland Regional College Of Veterinary Medicine
(Previously published online: Pelzer Proceedings)

Small Ruminant Vaccine Programs
Prepartum vaccines
Does and ewes should be vaccinated 3-4 weeks prior to the time of parturition in order to provide colostral immunity to the neonates

  1. Clostridium perfringens type C and D
    • Vaccine will cross protect against Cl. perfringens type B
    • Vaccine prevents hemorrhagic enteritis and overeating disease
  2. Clostridium tetani
    • Protects neonates from tetanus
    • Especially important if horses have been/are on the premise
    • Neonates at risk because of tail docking, castration, and dehorning
      • Note: The Cl. perfringens C and D and tetanus come in a combination vaccine
  3. Parainfluenza 3
    • Protects against parainfluenza 3, a viral disease that predisposes neonate to pneumonia
    • The product contains both PI3 and Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis Virus
    • The product is given intranasally, 1/2 of the cattle dose – 1 ml in one nostril
    • Reduces the shedding of PI3 by dams and provides good colostral immunity to neonates

Optional vaccine

Continue reading

Making and Maintaining Quality Baleage

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

It almost seems like a broken record. We have continually talked about the excessive amount of poor quality hay made last year and the issues surrounding how to incorporate it as a viable feed source in livestock diets. Here in Ohio, we have yet to have had an actual winter and the rain continues to fall. This weather pattern may be the new norm, thus we must learn how to adapt to these challenges. So, the question becomes, how will producers make quality first cutting hay that maintains a high feed value in the future?

The greatest challenge with making dry hay is Continue reading

Parasite Management Starts with Genetics

Gail Keck
(Previously published in Ohio Farmer: February 24, 2020)

Ohio producer uses data to increase his sheep flock’s resistance to internal parasites.

For sheep producers with flocks on pasture, controlling internal parasites can be expensive and time-consuming, but the cost of not controlling the parasites can be even greater, in reduced performance and death losses. While it won’t eliminate the need to monitor and deworm entirely, building a flock with greater genetic resistance can help reduce losses and treatment expenses.

John Anderson, who raises Polypay sheep seedstock near Shreve,in Wayne County, Ohio, has been selectively breeding for parasite resistance for 10 years, and he’s seeing the benefits in his own flock and in the breeding stock he sells.

Continue reading

Larval Survival of Barber’s Pole Worm

Wormboss
(Previously published on Wormboss, Tests and Tools, Management Tools, Grazing Management)

(Image Source: Deb Maxwell)

Problem:
Many producers are unaware how long is required to prepare low worm-risk paddocks, although surveys show most are in favor of using them.

Solution:
Understanding the few conditions under which worm larvae will die is vital in creating low worm-risk paddocks.

Benefit:
Knowing the ‘required time’ for your property to create low worm-risk paddocks.

Under what conditions do worm larvae die?
A common misconception, based on having fewer worm issues in winter, is that frosts kill worm larvae on the paddock. This is a myth.

Continue reading

Is Creep Feeding Lambs a Profitable Undertaking?

Donald G. Ely and Endre Fink, Animal and Food Sciences, University of Kentucky
(Previously published online as a University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service white paper)

(Image Source: Premier1Supplies)

Creep feeding is a technique of providing feed to nursing lambs to supplement the milk they consume. Creep-fed lambs grow faster than noncreep-feds and are more aggressive in nursing ewes. This aggression stimulates greater ewe milk production which, in turn, increases creep feed intake because these lambs will be bigger at a given age.

Typically, the creep diet is a grain protein supplement mixture and is made available in an area constructed so lambs can enter, but ewes cannot. Some situations when it may be economical to creep feed are described below. Continue reading

Proposed Coyote Trapping Changes Put on Hold

Matt Reese, Ohio’s Country Journal editor
(Previously published in Ohio’s Country Journal: Febuary 19, 2020)

When coyote predation becomes a problem for a livestock operation, it can be a major issue that requires extensive measures to address. For this reason, an Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife proposal to designated coyotes as furbearers generated concerns from Ohio’s agriculture and hunters and trappers.

“There are a fair amount of hunters that don’t agree with it,” said Mike Rex, who sits on the Ohio Wildlife Council. “They see coyotes as vermin and not a furbearing animal like a fox, and they don’t think there should be any additional regulation.”

With the furbearer designation, coyote trapping by any person (including landowners) would be limited Continue reading

How to Frost Seed to Add Legumes to your Pastures

Genevieve Slocum, Kings Agriseeds
(Previously published in On Pasture: February 10, 2020)

(Image Source: On Pasture)

Folks have been asking about this recently. From January 2017, Genevieve’s tips can help you adjust your winter grazing now for frost-seeding for a better pasture this summer.

Frost-seeding is one form of over-seeding, in which you can use legumes to economically and quickly thicken a pasture or a perennial hayfield in late winter. Though no-till drilling has more guarantee of success, frost seeding is an easy operation while you have time in the off season, and if managed correctly and timed properly, has good likelihood of success. Spraying, tillage, and lost grazing time does not factor into the costs as it typically does with a pasture reseeding. Clover eventually Continue reading

Closed Coyote Trapping Season is Proposed, Nuisance Removal is Unchanged

Tommy Springer, Wildlife Specialist, Fairfield County Soil and Water Conservation District

When the Ohio Division of Wildlife released its proposed changes to the 2020-2021 hunting and trapping regulations, probably no proposal received more attention than the one to clarify the classification of coyotes as a furbearer and include them in the regulated trapping season along with other furbearers such as raccoon and fox (OAC 1501:31-15-09). Under current regulations, coyotes can be hunted and trapped year-round. This new proposal would only affect the trapping portion. Hunting will remain open all year with no bag limit.

As this proposal clears up the legal language that coyotes are considered furbearers, in addition to having an annual hunting license, this proposal requires hunters and trappers to also purchase the fur taker permit that is required to hunt or trap furbearers. Currently, hunters and trappers targeting coyotes are Continue reading

Ag-note: Use of Guard Llamas in an Integrated Predator Control System

Natassaja Boham, Makenzie Doherty, and Jordan Johnson, OSU Animal Science Undergraduate Students
Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

Use of Guard Llamas in an Integrated Predator Control System
** Follow the link above to view the Ag-note.

In our latest Ag-note, Animal Sciences students Natassaja Boham, Makenzie Doherty, and Jordan Johnson highlight a unique ruminants species (pseudo ruminant that is) that can be used in any livestock operation as a means to control for predators. As Ohio legislation begins to reassess the status of the coyote in terms of being a fur-bearing animal and as a result producers may be limited in how they may be able to trap these predators, producers may be forced to find alternative means to manage this controversial wildlife livestock interaction. Continue reading

Grafting Lambs: An Opportunity to Increase Flock Productivity

Richard Ehrhardt, Michigan State University Extension Specialist, Small Ruminants
(Previously published on MSU Extension, Sheep & Goat: January 28, 2020)

This article discusses how to successfully graft lambs unto another ewe.

(Image Source: Michigan State University)

Introduction
Grafting is the process of assessing milk/colostrum production in ewes and matching lambs to supply. Grafting lambs is an effective means of efficiently raising “extra” or “bonus” lambs and maximizing flock productivity. It is also a vastly underutilized technique for many reasons. One is simply lack of know-how. Another is lack of milk/colostrum in ewes due to chronic disease such as ovine progressive pneumonia (OPP) and/or because of undernutrition. In addition, the opportunities for matching graftee lambs to surrogate ewes can be Continue reading

Weaning Primer

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

Weaning is when the milk is removed from the diet of a young mammal. Usually – but not always – it coincides with separation of the young from their dam. Weaning age varies greatly in sheep and goats, from as early as 14 days to natural weaning, at more than four months of age. Lambs have been successfully weaned as early as 14 days; kids as early as 28 days. Early weaning is usually defined as weaning prior to 90 days of age; 60 days is most common. Late weaning is anything after that.

Wean by weight
It is generally better to wean based on weight rather than age. A general recommendation is Continue reading

Critical Control Points for Lamb Survival

Richard Ehrhardt, Michigan State University Extension Specialist, Small Ruminants
(Previously published on MSU Extension, Sheep & Goat: January 27, 2020)

This article talks about when newborn mortality occurs and how to prevent it.

Introduction
“What is a reasonable mortality rate for lambs?” This is a question frequently asked by many producers. However, the answer is not straightforward, as it depends on many factors including lambing rate, management practices and production system. Producers commonly ask this question to determine if they have a problem, but looking at overall lamb mortality without considering the farm’s production figures and its specific patterns of loss is not very useful. A better approach would be to begin by identifying the pattern of loss and their magnitude. These patterns may show some variation from year to year, but it is common that farm-specific patterns emerge.  Some losses can be greatly reduced with Continue reading

2020 Ohio Forage and Grasslands Council Conference

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Noble County

The Ohio 2020 OFGC Annual Meeting Brochure Final Forages and Grasslands Council Annual Conference will be held February 21, 2020 from 8:30 am to 3:00 pm at the Ohio Department of Agriculture in Reynoldsburg, Ohio. The program theme is “Foraging For Profit”. The Keynote speaker will be Jimmy Henning, Forage Professor, University of Kentucky, who will discuss “Making Good Round Bale Silage” based on extensive research and experience in Kentucky. Dr. Henning will also be speaking on a second topic, “The Clover Dilemma – Do I have enough to withhold N Fertility?”.

Another featured speaker to address new fencing technologies is Continue reading

OSU Extension Mid-Ohio Small Farm Conference – Sowing Seeds for Success

Carri Jagger, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Morrow County

OSU Extension Mid-Ohio Small Farm Conference – Sowing Seeds for Success

Do own a few acres that you want to be productive but you’re not sure what to do with it?

Do you have a passion for farming and turning your piece of this wonderful earth into a food producing oasis?

Do you own land or forest that you’re not quite sure how to manage? Continue reading

Are Genetics the Key to Dealing with Fescue Toxicosis?

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Noble County

One of the sessions that I attended during the American Forage and Grassland Council at the beginning of 2020 explored the possibility of identifying genetic markers in cattle for tolerance of the endophytic fungus that lives within the KY-31 tall fescue forage, which is the most prominent pasture grass in our region. This endophyte provides survival benefits to the plant, but causes vascular constriction in the animals that can cause mild to severe symptoms and overall reduced productivity. For decades forage managers and scientists have been working on ways to mitigate the impacts of this endophyte on livestock production. Most successes have come from the forage management side rather than the livestock side. We suggest Continue reading

Lambing Time Management

Dr. Scott Greiner, Extension Animal Scientist – Sheep, Virginia Tech
(Previously published on the Virginia Cooperative Extension web page)

Lambing Management:
Frequent visits to the lambing barn
Dystocia has been shown to be a significant cause of lamb mortality. Losses due to stillbirths and dystocia can be reduced by frequent visits to the lambing barn and timely assistance of ewes. Pregnant ewes should be checked every 3-4 hours. If ewes are checked at 11 p.m. or midnight, it is not necessary to check again before 5 or 6 a.m. Ewes that will lamb between these times usually show signs at the late night observation. The lambing area should be dry and well bedded, and sources of cold drafts that will chill newborn lambs should be eliminated. It is not necessary to have a heated lambing barn- a dry, draft-free area is most important. The lambing process can vary considerably between ewes. Ewes in labor should Continue reading

Macro and Micro Nutrients

James Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services
(Previously published on Ohio’s Country Journal: January 22, 2020)

(Image Source: Greenhouse Canada)

A basic understanding of soil fertility is important for high crop production. All crops require seventeen essential nutrients for proper growth and development, the specific amount of each nutrient depends upon the crop. The atmosphere provides hydrogen and oxygen and carbon (most comes from the soil first). The rest must come from the soil and the amount available for a plant depends upon many factors such as the soil type, organic matter, pH, drainage, microbes, temperature, and rainfall. Soil nutrients are absorbed by water being pulled through the plant through transpiration and by roots intercepting the nutrient molecules. Continue reading

Using Refugia to Manage Parasites

Veterinary Practice New
(Previously published on the American Consortium for Small Ruminant Parasite Control web page, January 3, 2020)

With 2020 underway, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says it is continuing its ongoing effort to address issues related to antiparasitic resistance in livestock and horses across the country. Among these efforts are two videos on the subject, directed at large animal producers and owners.

Continue reading

Reduce Lamb Loss

Dr. Jeffery Held, Extension Sheep Specialist, South Dakota State University
(Previously published in the United States Lamb Resource Center: Increasing Your Lamb Crop Series)

Image Source: Lisa Surber)

Introduction
Most sheep producers strive to reduce lamb crop mortality associated with late gestation and newborn lambs. Some consistently keep losses between 5%-10%, while others in a similar production system are 15% or greater year after year. Sheep respond to management more than any other domestic specie, which is apparent during the critical periods that effect lamb mortality. Keeping detailed flock records during lambing season can document the sources of lamb mortality.

The most important step to reduce lamb mortality is to evaluate key production records from current and past lambing seasons. The key benchmarks to monitor are: Continue reading

Global Concern: How to Receive More for Your Wool Clip

David Rowe, General Manager, Mid-States Wool Growers

People raise sheep for a variety of reasons. Most people are drawn to a particular breed because they like the way they look, they wish to show this breed or they know someone who raises this breed. All are good reasons to raise a breed, but the question on how to make money has not even been asked? As we know, the primary reason for most people to raise sheep is to produce a successful lamb crop that can be marketed as well as a wool clip that can be sold. Obviously, the hair breeds will only yield a lamb crop but for the purpose of this article, we will focus strictly on breeds of sheep that yield a wool clip and how we can best maximize our return on the wool we have to market. Continue reading

6 Tips to Make the Most of Forage Analysis

Kindra Gordon, writer for the Dakota Farmer
(Previously published on Dakota Farmer, December 30, 2019)

Extension specialists can help you learn more about forage analysis and interpretation.

Color, smell, texture, leafiness and harvest date can all offer clues about forage quality, but “sensory evaluation doesn’t cut it when it comes to feed analysis,” says Janna Block, a North Dakota State University area livestock Extension specialist based at the Hettinger Research Extension Center.

Block believes forage testing is “worth it every year,” but adds, “If you’ve never tested before, this is the year to do it and invest in the analysis.” She explains that with the variable — and wet — conditions of 2019, forage quality is difficult to discern without an analysis. As Continue reading

Management and Nutrition of the Lactating Ewe and Young Lambs

Dr. Scott Greiner, Extension Animal Scientist – Sheep, Virginia Tech
(Previously published on the Virginia Cooperative Extension web page)

Nutrition:
In winter-lambing production systems, the flock is typically managed to provide rapid early growth of lambs for early marketing. Growth rate of lambs from birth to weaning is largely determined by milk production of the ewe, which emphasizes the importance of good nutritional management during this period. Lactation is also a period in which there is opportunity to control feed costs by feeding ewes according to the number of lambs nursing. During lactation, the ewe’s nutritional requirements for both energy and protein are at their highest level. Therefore, the highest quality hays available should be utilized during this time. Alfalfa hay is an excellent feedstuff during lactation due to its relatively high energy and protein density relative to other forages. In most cases, a grain-protein supplement (such as corn-soybean meal) will also need to be fed in addition to the highest quality hay available. The needed protein content of this grain mix will vary depending on Continue reading

Minimizing Genetic Defects in Sheep

New Mexico State University Extension
(Previously published on the NMSU Extension web page)

As we dive head first into the 2020 lambing season, be sure to keep a close eye on your lamb crop. I know what you may be thinking, everyone already does this and I hope that is true. Keeping lambs healthy, warm, fed, and alert are key to a successful lambing season. However, you also need to take into account and record any type of defects. As noted below, these defects may not be life threatening, but a defect in the genetics of your flock is not worth the hassle. Once a genetic defect is found, be sure to record this information in your lambing records so you can properly deal with this issue when it comes to culling the appropriate animals from your flock.

Fortunately, sheep have few inherited defects that reduce their survival or producing ability. A discussion of the major genetic defects follows.

Jaw defects
Jaw defects are present in almost all breeds of sheep and are associated with failure of the incisor teeth to properly meet the dental pad. A jaw is

Continue reading

Have You Prepared Your Barn for Lambing?

Dr. Gary E. Ricketts, University of Illinois, Department of Animal Sciences Emeritus Professor
(Previously published with University of Illinois Extension, Illinois Livestock Trail, Sheep and Goats: January 29, 1999)

Although this piece was originally published over 20 years ago, it still holds a lot of valuable information. As we enter the new year, lambs will be soon arriving and with the business of life it’s easy to forget some of the basics. No worries though, this piece will be sure to assist!

Having the barn ready before the first lambs arrive is one way to get the lambing season off to a good start. Not all ewes have a 150-day gestation period. There is considerable variation in Continue reading

Factors Affecting Reproductive Performance of Sheep

Paula I. Menzies, DVM, MPVM, DECS-RHM, Ruminant Health Management Group, Department of Population Medicine, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph
(Previously published online with the Merck Manual – Veterinary Manual)

Reasons for reproductive failure in the ewe and ram are numerous. Performance must be considered in light of the management system and genetics of the breed. If targets are not being met, the following can be used as a guideline to investigate contributing factors.

Breed:
Breed selection can greatly influence reproductive performance, particularly prolificacy and age at first lambing. Sheep breeds around the world are very diverse in performance, and it is advisable to be familiar with the traits of some of the more popular ones. Continue reading

Reducing Hay Storage and Feeding Losses

Dr. Jessica Williamson, Extension Forage Specialist, Penn State
(Previously published in Feedlot Magazine)

Storage losses of uncovered hay can be upwards of 30%!

On most livestock operations, the greatest operational cost is stored and harvested feed, so it only makes sense that striving to reduce storage and feeding losses of harvested feeds as much as possible can help improve forage quality, quantity, and overall profitability of an operation. Reducing waste, even by a few percent, can have a direct reflection on farm financial status almost immediately. Dry hay has the potential to meet most ruminant livestock nutrient requirements if Continue reading

Recap: 2019 Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

As promised, the 2019 Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium and 70th anniversary of the Ohio Sheep Improvement Association (OSIA) was full of enthusiasm, entertainment, education, friendship, and much more! Among the many highlights, this years event hosted 110 shepherds on Friday afternoon and well over 200 shepherds for the Saturday program. The unique program drew an audience from Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, Michigan, Indiana, Minnesota, and New Mexico. We warned you earlier that you if you didn’t register for this years event, you were going to miss out and we hate to say it but we right. So, for those that weren’t able to attend, we hope that we will be able to share a few highlights that occurred on the two day event. This years event focused on ‘Improving Profitability of the Sheep Operation’ and included two special guests that are heavily involved in the North American sheep industry. Continue reading

Lively Lambs and Timely Vaccinations Go Hand in Hand

Dr. J. Bret Taylor, U.S. Sheep Experiment Station USDA, Agricultural Research Service, Dubois, Idaho 83423
(Previously published on the Montana Wool Growers Association webpage)

(Image Source: Sheep 201)

Lambing season is upon us or soon will be! Whether just beginning, in the midst of, or wrapping up lambing, lamb survival is a concern for all of us. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently reported that the average death rate of lambs from birth through weaning to be nearly 11%! Most of these lambs are lost in the first two weeks of life.

Many troublesome diseases plague neonatal (new-born) lambs. One of these diseases is caused by Clostridium perfringens Type C, which results in bloody scours (diarrhea). Another strain of C. perfringens, Type D, rears its ugly head beginning several weeks after birth when the ewe’s milk production is high and/or lambs gain access to concentrate-type feeds (grain-based supplements or diets). Death caused from Continue reading

Is Fescue Toxicosis a Problem in Hay?

Gary Bates, Extension Forage Specialist and Director of the UT Beef and Forage Center, University of Tennessee
(Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: November 25, 2019)

(Image Source: Hay & Forage Grower)

Tall fescue is the dominant forage species used in the eastern United States. Being a cool-season grass, it provides grazing during the spring and fall for many livestock producers around the nation.

The variety Kentucky 31 (KY-31), released in the 1940s, made a tremendous impact on the forage and livestock industry. Most people familiar with KY-31 tall fescue recognize that it has many positive attributes, but there are also a couple of negative issues that come along with the variety.

A good news, bad news endophyte
In the late 1970s and early ‘80s, it was discovered that KY-31 tall fescue is Continue reading

Tips for Stockpile Grazing Timing, Fencing, and Pasture Size

Victor Shelton, Victor Shelton, NRCS State Agronomist/Grazing Specialist
(Previously published in On Pasture: December 9, 2019)

When to Start
If possible and practical, it is best to not start grazing stockpiled forage until it goes dormant. Until it goes dormant, every time that solar panel of leaves is removed, the plant will draw from the reserves in the roots. If you hurt those reserves too much, and you will set back spring growth. If you don’t allow longer rest period in the spring to allow the plant to build back roots and reserves, you can really hurt your forage stand. There are times where grazing can be beneficial, such as for reducing competition early spring for frost seeded legumes. We will consider it dormant at this point. Continue reading

Ag-note: Small Ruminant Welfare: Early Life Stages

Ariel Taylor, Hailey Snyder, Mackenzie Campbell, and Adam Lannutti, OSU Animal Science Undergraduate Students
Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

Small Ruminant Welfare: Early Life Stages 
** Follow the link above to view the Ag-note.

In this weeks Ag-note, Animal Sciences students Ariel Taylor, Hailey Snyder, Mackenzie Campbell, and Adam Lannutti discuss an important topic, small ruminant welfare during the early stages of life. This topic is of high importance, especially as many producers in the state Ohio approach the lambing season. In today’s society, consumers are becoming more and more interested in the manner in which we manage and interact with our livestock and rightfully so. In general, many members of society are several generations removed from the farm and they are searching for ways to further associate themselves with the products in which they purchase. We want to point out that this discussion is not a way to illustrate who is right or wrong, but rather that

Continue reading

Barn Cameras: A Shepherd’s Saving Grace

Jacci Smith, OSU Extension Educator ANR/4-H, Delaware County

Just imagine: It’s the middle of February, minus 4 degrees outside, and 3:00 am. You roll out of bed, put on your coveralls and boots. Open the door to go check that ewe that wasn’t acting quite right at chore time. That bitter cold hits you in the face and boom you are wide-awake. Once you get to the barn, you look around and there is no lambing action. So you trek back to the house, take off your winter gear and try, and fail, to get back to sleep.

This is why the invention of barn cameras was so vital. Lambing season is a time of year that we all need to be on the top of our game. When you are run down without the proper sleep, this might not be the case. Barn cameras can be an amazing tool that shepherds can have if the right steps are taken. Continue reading

Grafting: A Lamb Saving Management Tool

A. Richard Cobb, University of Illinois, Extension Sheep Specialist
(Previously published with University of Illinois Extension, Illinois Livestock Trail, Sheep and Goats: November 7, 2007)

(Image Source: Premier1Supplies)

Grafting (Fostering) is an alternative for producers who do not enjoy raising lambs on artificial milk. The ability to graft, or switch, a lamb from one ewe to another is a management tool that can save many lambs during a lambing season.

Grafting works best when you have a number of ewes lambing at the same time. When grafting, we are asking one ewe to adopt or accept another ewe’s lamb or lambs. Grafting can be done for many reasons. Examples of situations where removal of one or more lambs will benefit the lambs and the ewe are: Continue reading

Do Sheep Always Need Access to a Fluid Water Source?

Richard Ehrhardt, Michigan State University Extension Specialist, Small Ruminants
(Previously published on MSU Extension, Sheep & Goat: December 16, 2016)

Knowing how much water grazing sheep need access to can help, especially during winter management.

Water is certainly an essential nutrient for life, and it is without question that all animals need water to survive and thrive. To be perfectly clear, I am not questioning whether or not sheep need water, but rather asking the question: When do sheep need supplemental, fluid water from a water source? This question has important implications for how sheep are managed, especially during winter.

The following conditions determine how much

Continue reading

2019 CFAES Scotland’s Ruminants Program

With Thanksgiving only a few short days away, when I reflect on the opportunities that The Ohio State University has provided to it’s students, we have plenty to be thankful for. This past spring I had the great opportunity to assist with the Scotland’s Ruminants study abroad program. For those interested in the details of this trip, be sure to check out my article: Scottish Sheep Production Through an American Lens. However, rather than reiterating what was written here, I will leave you with this video that undergraduate student, Caleb Rykaczewski, produced to highlight his experiences on the trip. Be sure to share this with your family when you all gather this week. Happy Thanksgiving!

 

We Harvested a lot of Dirt this Year

Michaela King, Hay and Forage Grower summer editorial intern
(Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: November 26, 2019)

(Image Source: Hay & Forage Grower)

This year’s forage analysis reports are showing more than the usual number of high-ash forages, according to Bill Weiss, Ohio State University Extension dairy nutrition specialist.

Typically, cool-season grasses harvested as hay or silage have about 7% – 9% ash, while legumes harvested as hay or silage average 10% – 12% ash. There are some outside factors that affect the mineral concentrations. As plants mature, the mineral concentration will decline, but forages grown in soils with high levels of available potassium often have higher mineral concentrations. Continue reading

Grass Awns can Cause Significant Medical Problems to Animals

Dr. Tim McDermott, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Franklin County

It seems like foxtail grass has taken over every pasture and hay field in Ohio in 2019.  My good friend and Extension colleague, Clif Martin, wrote an excellent article detailing “How to Fight Foxtail in Forages.” I highly recommend you review this article to learn strategies to manage this weed. If his article is not enough to get you motivated, then hopefully this article will. Foxtail is not only a weed competitor and invader of your hay and pasture fields, but it also can cause some significant medical problems for grazing livestock, horses, and companion animals. Take a close look at the picture of a foxtail awn. It is very tiny as you can see in comparison to the dime placed for reference. Note that its shape is similar to a lawn dart, which means that it can only travel in one direction, point first. Depending on what species variety of foxtail grass present, this places the seed heads with Continue reading

The Lauwers Family’s Lean Toward Lamb

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Noble County

Cameron Lauwers is a first generation sheep producer and fourth generation farmer from Capac, Michigan who runs 600 ewes in a mostly housed accelerated lambing system. This pursuit is fairly new for his family. Originally, they were a dairy farm. Cameron’s Father, Uncle, and Grandfather implemented a successful farm succession plan by selling out of the dairy business in the 1980s, entering the cash crop market in the next generation, and diversifying into hay, baleage, straw, and now lamb. Cameron is the shepherd and his father Mike is the hay man.

Studies at Michigan State University peaked Cameron’s interest in Continue reading

Keep Syringes and Needles Clean and Working During Vaccination

Lisa Guenther, Editor, Canadian Cattlemen, The Beef Magazine
(Previously published in the Canadian Cattlemen, The Beef Magazine: November 7, 2019)

Make sure you protect your vaccine’s effectiveness with a few practical steps.

Getting the most out of a vaccine starts with the syringes and needles.

Dr. Cody Creelman, a bovine veterinarian in southern Alberta, recently held a free webinar on ways to make cattle vaccines more effective. Part of his webinar covered how to keep needles and syringes clean and working well.

Creelman recommends Continue reading

Saliva, More Than Just Spit

Steve Boyles, OSU Beef Extension Specialist

(Image Source: Sheep 101)

Ruminants secret enormous quantities of saliva from eight types of glands. The secretions are serous (watery), mucus, or mixed. The mixed secretions are weakly buffered while the others are strongly buffered with bicarbonate and phosphate. Saliva moistens and lubricates food and assists in masticating (chewing) and swallowing. Saliva contributes more than 70% of the water and most of the salts to the rumen. It assists in stabilizing rumen pH and provides sources of nitrogenous and mineral nutrients for the microorganisms. Continue reading

Have your Hay, and Eat it, too

Emily Beal, College of Food, Agriculture, and Environmental Sciences, The Ohio State University

Farmers across Ohio are feeling the brunt of last spring’s unprecedented rainfall. Finding hay that is both affordable and sufficiently nutritious has been one roadblock this year for farmers.

And something even more alarming than rising hay prices could be looming over Ohio farmers: A nutritional deficiency could be sneaking into their herd during this record-breaking year in agriculture.

Continue reading

All Antibiotics for Livestock will Soon Require a Vet’s Prescription

Susan Himes, Communications Specialist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service
(Previously published online on AgriLife TODAY: November 11, 2019)

(Image Source: Farmers Weekly)

No longer will producers who need injectable antibiotics for their [livestock] be able to just grab them at their local feed store or order them online.

The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service wants producers to be aware that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is continuing the phasing in of a law that requires a prescription for any antibiotic use in animals raised for human consumption, as well as for all companion animals.

Prescriptions, livestock and your vet
A prescription is already required for most antibiotics delivered to livestock, and the remaining three categories of injectable antibiotics available over-the-counter will soon be joining the list of medically important antimicrobials that require a veterinarian’s prescription. Continue reading

Do Sheep Really Need Hay?

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team
Dr. Ale Relling, Assistant Professor, Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University
Clif Little
, OSU Extension Educator, Guernsey County

This question has been commonplace this year, especially with the inability of many producers to make hay at a reasonable time. However, this isn’t to say that there isn’t hay to be purchased, because there is, but rather that hay of acceptable quality at a reasonable price is nearly non-existent.

With this in mind, we challenge you to think about how generations before us fed low quality hay. It was simple right? Feed more of the lower quality material and allow the animals to choose which parts of the bale are the best. Then once they have eaten what they want, pitch the rest of it on the ground for bedding. This may be true, but what happens when we aren’t feeding enough of the ‘good stuff’? Continue reading

Feeding Baleage to Small Ruminants

Michael Metzger, Michigan State University Extension Educator
(Previously published on MSU Extension, Sheep & Goat: October 16, 2019)

Baleage offers a low cost, high quality forage option for sheep and goats but care must be taken to reduce health risks.

Many small ruminant producers are looking for ways to reduce feed costs for their herd or flock. Hay prices in Michigan are high after the extremely wet spring followed by a hot, dry summer. As owners look to reduce their forage costs, baled silage or “baleage” is one possible choice, but there are several things to consider when evaluating this choice. Continue reading

A Blast from the Past – Sheep Handling

As we made the trip this morning to the Eastern Agricultural Research Station (EARS) in Belle Valley, Ohio to begin our fall grazing project, I found it fitting to share this video. In 1977, the highlighted handling system in this video was one of a kind in the east and many others began to take notice. Its amazing how handling equipment, techniques, and products used over the years have changed, yet at the same time many of the behavioral theories on how to work animals remain the same. At The Ohio State University, we strive to continue educating ourselves and our producers on the newest technology and latest management practices available. With this film dating back 42 years ago, I think its time that we make an additional one. To this day, sheep production continues to maintain a strong foothold in the great Buckeye state and we are grateful to be a part of it.

Small Ruminant Winter Grazing Management

Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Wayne County
Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

In our pasture for profit grazing schools, it is often said that mechanical harvest of stored forages is about three times more expensive as compared to livestock harvest of forage in a managed grazing system. From this perspective, winter grazing offers an opportunity to improve the bottom line of pasture-based livestock production. The keys to making winter grazing successful depend upon planning ahead to make forage available for grazing, know the nutrient content of forages grazed as well as the nutrient requirements of the grazing animal, and some cooperation from Mother Nature along the way.

In general, winter grazing involves using either Continue reading

Basic Nutrition of Small Ruminants

University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture – Cooperative Extension Service
(Previously published on the U of A Division of Agriculture Research & Extension web page)

Feed is the single largest cost associated with raising small ruminants, typically accounting for 60% or more of total production costs. It goes without saying that nutrition exerts a very large influence on flock reproduction, milk production, and lamb and kid growth. Late-gestation and lactation are the most critical periods for ewe and doe nutrition, with lactation placing the highest nutritional demands on ewes/does. Nutrition level largely determines growth rate in lambs and kids. Lambs and kids with higher growth potential have higher nutritional needs, especially with regards to protein. Animals receiving inadequate diets are more prone to disease and will fail to reach their genetic potential.

Small ruminants require energy, protein, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and water. Energy (calories) is usually the most limiting nutrient, whereas protein is Continue reading

Small Ruminant Housing: Proper Airflow is Important

Chelsea Hill, Livestock/4-H Educator, Penn State Extension
(Previously published on the Penn State Extension web page: December 5, 2018)

(Image Source: Penn State Extension)

When winter and cold weather arrive goats and sheep spend more time indoors. With this change in management comes needed attention to airflow and adequate ventilation of animal housing.

During different parts of the year producers have many creative and practical solutions to animal housing. Living in Pennsylvania, winter is the focal point for producers to pay maximum attention to housing details. During this time is when animals are moved to a more confined housing situation, with limited access to a dry lot for exercise. In consideration of that fact, it’s important to not only consider if there is enough floor space, bunk space, feeding space, and lighting, but also if there will be adequate ventilation. Continue reading

Key Points on Sheep and Goat ID

United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS)

Owner/Hauler Statements
On March 25, 2019, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) updated its scrapie regulations and program standards through the publication of a Final Rule in the Federal Register and the Scrapie Eradication Program Standards, Volume 1, which included updating identification requirements for goats and certain record keeping requirements for sheep and goats. These rules apply to sheep or goats that are moving or have moved in interstate commerce, that have resided on premises where interstate commerce is conducted, or that are owned by people who engage in interstate commerce. This includes animals moved though markets or other sites where interstate commerce occurs even if the particular animal has not left the state.

Official identification is now required for Continue reading

Sharpen your Shepherding Skills with Bred Ewe Lambs!

Tim Barnes, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Marion County

As we approach the end of the typical breeding season here in Ohio, there is still a group of sheep that shepherds may consider breeding prior to the coming of the new year. Depending upon who you ask, it seems like everyone has their own opinion on breeding ewe lambs. If you recall the article from Susan Schoenian that we shared last year, To Breed or Not to Breed, Susan explains that breeding young stock allow you and your operation to exploit reproductive and genetic potential. In the same breath, do note that breeding young females may also result in some production inefficiencies such as reduced milk production and potentially dystocia issues where it may require more labor from a management standpoint. Of course its nice to breed during the latter portion of the breeding season as this allows for your ewe lambs to be more mature at the time of breeding in addition to lambing these ewes down during the spring when hopefully the weather is more desirable to work in. Regardless of your situation, it may be worth taking a look into breeding your ewe lambs yet this year. Below, Tim Barnes has provided us with a quick list of points to consider when breeding ewe lambs. Continue reading

Feeding Sheep Whole or Processed Grains

Christoph Wand – Beef Cattle, Sheep and Goat Nutritionist/OMAF
(Previously published on Ontario, Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs)

What is the proper way to feed grain – whole or processed?. It depends on many factors such as the age (or weight) of the animal, the grain source and overall diet. Before getting to some usable rules of thumb, here is some background on why processing matters, and some general theory.

What is processing?
‘Processing’ means milling or rolling grain. It is also inferred by cracking, grinding, hammer-milling and so on. Generally, it can be assumed that processing adds about $10 per ton to the diet cost, due to labor, power use and machinery upkeep.

Sheep are ruminant animals; they are designed to Continue reading

Pasteurella and Mannheimia Pneumonias in Sheep and Goats

Philip R. Scott , BVM&S, MPhil, DVM&S, DSHP, DECBHM, FHEA, FRCVS, University of Edinburgh
(Previously published online with the Merck Manual – Veterinary Manual)

(Image Source: National Animal Disease Information Source)

With the abrupt change in weather we have experienced lately, issues especially with pneumonia are expected to occur. Although you may only experience a case or two on your operation throughout the year, it is important to understand the signs of this disease as well as the preventative measures that you can take in order to avoid or treat the issue when needed.

Bronchopneumonia caused by Pasteurella multocida or Mannheimia haemolytica has a cranioventral lung distribution and affects sheep and goats of all ages worldwide. It can be particularly devastating in young animals around weaning. It is a common cause of morbidity and mortality in

Continue reading

Nitrate and Oxalate Poisoning

Karin Neff, Andy Hulting, Mylen Bohle and David Hannaway, Oregon State University Extension Service
(Previously published on the Oregon State University Extension Service web page: Pests, Weeds, and Disease: April 2018)

(Image Source: Michigan State University Extension)

Plants absorb nitrates from the soil and metabolize them to form plant proteins. If plants absorb excess nitrates and are consumed by livestock before they are converted to proteins, nitrate poisoning can occur. Forage crops that are over fertilized before being harvested or grazed can be a common cause of nitrate poisoning. However, excess nitrate accumulation also occurs readily in some common pasture weeds. Nitrate concentration can vary widely among plants and growing conditions. Nitrates are highest in plants in mornings and evenings, and on cool, cloudy days (when plant metabolism is slower). Drought, fertilization and nutrient deficiency can result in nitrate accumulation in plant tissues. Highest concentrations occur generally in stems, rather than leaves, flowers or fruit/seed.

Continue reading

Copper Deficiency in Sheep and Cattle

Government of Western Australia
(Previously published online: Agriculture and Food, Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development)

Yes, you read the title correctly. Contrary to common belief, sheep do have a requirement for copper. Although their requirement for supplemental copper may be lower than other ruminant species, excluding this mineral from the ration of a sheep diet can result in serious health issues.

Copper is an essential trace element for animals needed for body, bone and wool growth, pigmentation, healthy nerve fibers, and white blood cell function.

There are two main causes of copper deficiency in sheep

Continue reading

Be Aware of Late-Season Potential Forage Toxicities

Dr. Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist, The Ohio State University
(Previously published in the C.O.R.N. Newsletter 2019-33)

Livestock owners feeding forage need to keep in mind potential for some forage toxicity issues late this season. Nitrate and prussic acid poisoning potential associated with drought stress or frost are the main concerns to be aware of, and these are primarily an issue with annual forages and several weed species, but nitrates can be an issue even in perennial forages when they are drought stressed. A few legumes species have an increased risk of causing bloat when grazed after a frost. Each of these risks is discussed in this article along with precautions to avoid them.

Nitrate Toxicity
Drought stressed forages can accumulate toxic levels of nitrates. This can occur in Continue reading

Consider Byproduct Feeds for Rations this Winter

Erika Lyon, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Jefferson and Harrison Counties
(Previously published online with Ohio Farmer: October 3, 2019)

Feeds produced from byproducts can often provide an adequate amount of protein and energy.

The last two years made it challenging for many producers to find good-quality feed for livestock, let alone a good quantity. Spoilage and high costs for subpar hay and grain can be discouraging. Health issues associated with poor-quality feed may range from starvation-like symptoms due to the feed lacking nutritional value, to death from contamination.

Producers may want to consider supplementing other types of feeds into winter rations to make up for loss in Continue reading

Hay Quality Indicators

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Noble County

The drastic swing in temperatures from one day to the next last week should remind us all that it truly is autumn and that winter is coming. The challenges of the 2019 forage production season continue to add up. With drought conditions across the state for the past two months, what was too lush for too long, is now crunchy and brown. Some producers are already feeding hay to their livestock, some are hoping that the forage they have stockpiled for late-fall/winter grazing will pay off. Hopefully it will with a little rain.

We ended 2018 with the lowest stock of stored forages since 2012 and the fourth lowest in the past 70 years. I don’t think 2019 has been much help. Quality forage is in short supply and high demand. Which means all forage has increased in monetary value by the ton. Continue reading

Tips for Selling Sheep and Goats Through Public Livestock Auctions

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

According to a 2001 NAHMS study, 56.8 percent of sheep operators sell their lambs through auction markets/sale barns. This percentage is probably higher in the Eastern U.S., where direct sales to packers and feeders are less common. For example, a 2003 study showed that 73.5 percent of West Virginia sheep producers market their lambs through livestock auctions. The percentages of goats sold at livestock auctions is probably similar, though a higher percentage of goats may be slaughtered on-farm.

There are many advantages to marketing livestock through a public livestock auction, sale barn, or stockyard. It is convenient and easy. There are usually regular weekly sales. Sometimes, there are special graded sales or sales that cater to the increased demand for sheep and goats prior to various religious holidays. Continue reading

Feeding and Managing Your Bred Ewe Lambs

Melanie Barkley, Livestock Extension Educator, Penn State Extension
(previously published with Penn State Extension: December 10, 2010)

(Image Source: Melanie Barkley, Penn State Extension)

Lifetime performance is an often-overlooked measurement in sheep.

Ewes that produce a lamb at a year of age should have a higher lifetime production than a ewe that lambs for the first time at two years of age. However, these young ewes are not only producing a lamb, they are also still growing. So, producers should manage these ewe lambs differently than mature ewes.

When selecting ewe lambs to breed, keep in mind that you will have better success if you start by selecting lambs that were born early in the season and from productive ewes. Lambs that were born earlier in the lambing season are more likely to be further along in their maturity and are thus more likely to conceive. As with any selection process, start with Continue reading

Lamb Industry Requires Further Change, says American Lamb Summit

American Lamb Board
(Previously published in the ASI Weekly Newsletter – September 6, 2019)

Outcomes from the inaugural American Lamb Summit were clear: all segments of the industry need to further improve lamb quality to keep and attract new customers and become more efficient to recapture market share from imported lamb. Yet, it was just as clear that production technologies and product research put industry success within grasp.

“I have never been so enthusiastic about our industry’s opportunities, but we just can’t allow ourselves to be complacent or accept status quo,” said Dale Thorne, American Lamb Board chairman, a sheep producer and feeder from Michigan. Thorne stressed, “the end-game is profitability for all aspects of our industry.” Continue reading

Can a Fungus, Aspergillus oryzae, Improve the Performance and Carcass Characteristics of Finished Lambs?

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

In a continually changing society, today’s consumer is much different in the way they make purchasing decisions when compared to their parents, especially when it comes to the meat case. Go ahead, list some examples of the marketing strategies you have seen at your local and chain retail grocery stores. Labels such as organic, pasture raised, and no hormones added are just a few. As an example, I’m sure that many of you are familiar with Certified Angus Beef, but have you heard of their new line – Certified Angus Beef Brand Natural? Natural. A simple word that appeals and resonates with some many people. These beef products follow the same 10 specs that all beef must achieve in order to be marketed as Certified Angus Beef in addition to no antibiotics or added hormones. I understand the concept behind the label, consumers are looking for a wholesome, natural product that is raised in a manner in which we have reduced the use of antibiotics, thus decreasing the potential for the development of antibiotic resistance.

In the same breath, according to a 2017 USDA survey, approximately 12% of American households remain food insecure. This figure increases Continue reading

Taking Social Media and Ohio by Storm with the Handle “Sheepishly Me”

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Noble County

Shepherd, mother, wife, and blogger, Sandi Brock holds the attention of thousands across social media with her handle “Sheepishly Me.”

Sheepish? Definitely not. Inspiring? Absolutely.

Sandi and her husband Mark, along with their children, operate Shepherd Creek Farms in Ontario, Canada. Both are influential in advocating for agriculture. While Mark serves in a more traditional role, working with commodity groups and politicians to elicit just representation of agriculture, Sandi caters to the consumers and producers of today through her vlogs. Continue reading

Out-of-Season Lambing

James Thompson, Oregon State University, Retired Sheep Specialist
(Previously published on the Oregon State University Extension page: August, 2018)

Fall or out-of-season lambing involves breeding ewes in April and May to produce lambs in September and October. The inability of most breeds of sheep to cycle and breed in the spring to early summer is a major constraint for success in this endeavor. Despite this fact there are producers that are successful in getting a high proportion of their ewes to lamb in the fall. Some of the benefits for attempting to have ewes lamb in the fall include:

  1. Forage availability for ewes in early lactation;
  2. Weather conditions are ideal for pasture lambing; and
  3. Lambs born at this time of the year hit market weights when supplies are low and generally sell for a higher price.

Continue reading

Grazing Cover Crops with Small Ruminants

Practical Farmers of Iowa
(Previously shared by Practical Farmers of Iowa: December 7, 2018)

Sheep producers can take advantage of down times between cash crops to provide inexpensive feed options in the form of cover crops. But farmers must decide where these feed options fit in the ewe production cycle. Dr. Richard Ehrhardt will discuss factors farmers should consider, appropriate infrastructure for grazing sheep on cover crops, and the cover crop mixes best suited for sheep. Understanding how to properly use and feed different types of cover crops will be more important than ever before with the continued issues of securing quality stored forages.

Dr. Richard Ehrhardt is the small ruminant extension Specialist at Michigan State University. He has an extensive sheep production background in forages, cover crops and annuals; accelerated production; and nutrition and health. In addition, he and his family operate an accelerated lambing commercial flock.

Ag-note: Domestic Dog Predation

Katherine Chen, Randi Goney, Katia Hardman, Hilary Kordecki, and Kaylee Shrock, OSU Animal Sciences Undergraduate Students
Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

Domestic Dog Predation – Protecting your Flock 
** Follow the link above to view the Ag-note.

(Image Source: Farmers Guardian)

In this weeks Ag-note, Animal Sciences students Katherine Chen, Randi Goney, Katia Hardman, Hilary Kordecki, and Kaylee Shrock address a sensitive issue regarding man’s most loyal companion, the domestic dog. In terms of livestock injury and kill, the domestic dog ranks as the #1 predator of goats and the #2 predator of sheep, lambs, and kids right behind the dreaded wile e coyote. These numbers are staggering, especially since most don’t see their family pet as a lethal predator. Unfortunately, due to their nature, dogs tend to take the activities of play too far when interacting with livestock and these events can turn lethal if not managed. Continue reading

Sorry We’ve Missed Ya!

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

Email notifications are currently unavailable for all u.osu.edu web pages. As we work with the university to solve this problem, please note that we will continue to post new content on our page each week! It is our hope that this issue will be resolved soon and you will be receiving your weekly subscription per usual. In the meantime, be sure to check out our page directly by visiting us at sheep.osu.edu.

With that, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite pictures from this summers grazing project.

Until we jump back into your inbox, happy shepherding!

Multi-species Grazing can Improve Utilization of Pastures

Jodie Pennington, Small Ruminant Educator, Lincoln University, Newton County Extension Center
(Previously published on Extension – Goats, August 14, 2019)

Multi-species grazing is the practice of using two or more livestock species together or separately on the same pasture-land in a specific growing season. With an understanding of the different grazing behaviors of each species, various combinations of animals can be used to more efficiently utilize the forages in a pasture. Different species of livestock prefer different forages and graze them to different heights. Cattle tend to be intermediate grazers. They graze grasses and legumes and bite with their mouth and tongue. Sheep and horses graze closer to the ground than cattle. Sheep and goats eat forbs (brushy plants with a fleshy stem) and leaves better than cattle or horses. Many weeds in a grass pasture are forbs. Cattle and horses tend to graze grasses better than small ruminants such as sheep and goats. Continue reading

Animals in our Lives – Featuring Dr. Temple Grandin

Brittany Fischer, Program Coordinator, CHAIRE

Please join us on Monday, September 30th for a most enjoyable evening featuring Dr. Temple Grandin! The evening will include a short introduction to the Center for Human-Animal Interactions Research & Education  (CHAIRE), a plated dinner, a silent auction, animals from the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium, a presentation by Dr. Peter Neville, and a presentation by Dr. Temple Grandin. This is a fundraising event for CHAIRE and seats are limited!

The event will be held at the Dave Thomas Conference Center, 1 Dave Thomas Blvd., Dublin, OH 43017. Doors will open at 5:00 pm, with zoo animal viewing at 5:00 pm – 6:00 pm, with the program beginning at 6:00 pm.

For more information and registration access, please visit our web page. The deadline for event registration is Sunday, September 22nd. We hope to see you there!

2019 Ohio State Fair Carcass Lamb Results

2019 Lamb Carcasses Final
For those directly involved in the livestock business, exhibiting your animals at the county, state, or national level is always an exciting venture. In Ohio, the Ohio State Fair is a great opportunity to allow our youth to showcase their summers hard work by exhibiting their market lamb projects. While winning a purple banners is the goal for most, we must not loose sight of what the ultimate end product will be from our livestock projects. This year, our team was able to capture the carcass results from the Breed Champion Lambs at the Ohio State Fair in real time using this unique video. Remember, regardless of the species, your livestock project goes beyond ring appeal.  For those of you with questions regarding carcass quality and evaluation, feel free to contact us. Enjoy!

Find the Right Cool-season Annual Grass

Michaela King, Hay and Forage Grower summer editorial intern
(Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: August 20, 2019)

They say that repetition is the key to learning. Over the past several months, Extension educators and researchers have discussed and provided many options for producers to increase the amount of high quality forage that can use to feed their livestock with for the upcoming year. Be sure to take a quick look at this short piece as it quickly outlines some of the important basics of some common forages options and soil health considerations.

When Southern warm-season grasses go dormant and become unproductive, there are a wide variety of cool-season annual grasses that can be used to extend grazing periods into the winter and spring months. Continue reading

Water Quality Problems that Affect Livestock Production

Sandy Smith, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Carroll County
(Previously published in Farm & Dairy, August 22, 2019)

(Image Source: Farm & Dairy)

We have all been really concerned with the effects that the unpredictable weather has had on forage production this year.

First, we had so much rain and even flooding that delayed forage growth and quality haymaking. Now we are experiencing areas of semi-drought conditions in some areas.

We all have had places in our counties that it rained 3 inches in one area and three miles down the road, or less as the crow flies, they may only have received a half an inch. Continue reading

Forage Focus: August Plantings

August Plantings:
Do note that planting date cut offs mentioned in this clip are not concrete, we never know how long fall will last, how early winter will come, or how much rain we will get as we experienced this spring. Producers are able to plant into September, but as noted above we take a risk with the uncertainty of weather patterns. In addition, it is important to note that the charts shown in this example apply to perennial forages sown and grown in southern Ohio. As you move north in the state, the planting dates will slightly differ.

Shepherds Can Manage for Cache Valley Virus

Micky Burch, livestock producer
(Previously shared on Premier1Supplies Sheep Guide)

(Image Source: Premier1Supplies)

It seems that in our part of the country—west central Iowa, that is—Cache Valley Virus (CVV) has been most prevalent just in the last couple of years. Until the lambing season of 2011, I’d personally never even heard of CVV. But that spring, many producers across the state seemed to have been hit with the disease to some degree. We were lucky; only one lamb born on our place had to be pulled with the assistance of a veterinarian and an epidural, producing a mummified lamb. Some other folks I know weren’t so lucky and lost a large percentage of their lamb crop to the debilitating disease. Continue reading

2019 Fall Statewide Sheep Shearing School

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

Are you interested in learning a new skill set that will greatly benefit sheep industry? Are you interested in the potential to make some money on the side working with your favorite small ruminant species? If you answered yes to both of these questions, look no further! All thanks to the support of the Ohio Sheep Improvement Association, the next sheep shearing school will be held on Friday and Saturday, September 13th and 14th from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm at the Dave Cable Farm in Hebron, Ohio. Continue reading

Best Practices Aim to Increase Productivity for Lamb Producers

American Lamb Board
(Previously published in the American Lamb Board Newsletter, August 8, 2019)

Helping each sheep producer find ways to be more efficient plus take more control of flock productivity, both of which protect against price volatility, is the bottom line reason for the Best Practices to Increase Your Lamb Crop fact sheets. The series is a joint effort of the American Lamb Board (ALB) and the American Sheep Industry Association’s Let’s Grow program. These fact sheets were developed by a group of industry experts and are designed to help producers increase their productivity and profitability. Continue reading

Investments for Animal Feeding: Fence vs. Implements

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Noble County

Years like 2019 can test farmers and ranchers to the brink of insanity. People in this profession must be resilient to the unpredictability of weather, markets, and the general chaos of life. All year thus far, we have discussed many ways to adapt our animal feeding programs, pasture systems, and hay production to the far from ideal conditions we are facing.

By now, I hope you have read articles, listened to podcasts, watched videos, talked with your neighbors and your local Ag. Extension educators about what to do next. Crop selection, site management, and soil health have been huge topics addressed regarding cover crops for prevent plant acres, damaged pastures, weeds, poor quality hay, feed shortages, and much more!

But, I’m going to take this article a different direction… Continue reading

Hoof Care—Treatment and Prevention

Susan Schoenian, Sheep & Goat Specialist, University of Maryland Small Ruminant Extension Program
(Previously shared on Premier1Supplies Sheep Guide)

Hoof care is an important aspect of sheep production and management. Hoof diseases can affect the health and welfare of sheep and have a negative effect on productivity. Hooves should be regularly checked for disease and excess growth. Animals which have excessive hoof growth, recurrent hoof problems and/or fail to respond to treatment should be culled.

Hoof trimming
Hoof growth—and thus, the need for hoof trimming—is affected by many factors, including breed and genetics, soil moisture and characteristics, management and nutrition. Sheep grazed on Continue reading

Small Ruminant Production Workshop – Wilmington Ohio

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

Small ruminant production continues to grow across the nation as the market for this industry remains strong. Small ruminants, including sheep and goats, are two livestock species that are most easily adapted to any type of production system. Regardless if you are someone that is interested in just getting into the industry or a seasoned veteran, I encourage you to attend the latest small ruminant production workshop.

Sponsored by the OSU Sheep Team, The Ohio State University Extension, Wilmington College, and Ohio Sheep and Wool Program, I’d like to invite you to the Small Ruminant Production Workshop – Addressing Needs for a Successful Production Season. Continue reading

Weed and Brush Control: Myths and Mistakes

Scott Flynn, Field Scientist, Corteva Agriscience
(Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: May 21, 2019)

Weed and brush encroachment into pastures and hayfields can lower the ability to meet nutritional needs of most livestock operations. Over time, most producers eventually reduce animal numbers or supplement herds to compensate for forage loss. Meanwhile, a shortened grazing season and a need for more hay is realized as pastures decline. I often tell producers looking for more grazing acres that the cheapest pasture acres they will ever buy are the ones they gain when weeds and brush are controlled.

Most producers recognize the negative impacts of weeds on forage production and seek to control these invaders. However, Continue reading

How to Feed and Use Poor Quality Hay

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team
Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Wayne County

Realities of hay produced in 2019:
Persistent and frequent rains not only led to delayed planting, but they also foiled the best-laid plans of sheep producers to take a timely first cut hay harvest. As a result, significant acres of first cut hay was baled in late June and even well into July. Overly mature is one way to describe this hay, but whatever the description, most producers recognize this hay is of poor quality. The big question many producers are facing now is how and when to best use this hay? Some have suggested the best use is bedding material. This is a valid consideration, particularly with high straw prices as hay has an absorbency factor (value used to describe the water holding capacity of a material) of 3.0, which is greater than that of wheat straw which sits at 2.1. It is important to note that the initial moisture content of these materials when tested was less than 10%. For those that Continue reading

Ag-note: Parasite Focus – Haemonchus Contortus

Kirsten McCollough, Kourtney Sprague, Jamie Summers, Kristi Lampton, and Hannah Whitaker, OSU Animal Science Undergraduate Students
Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

Parasite Focus – Haemonchus Contortus
** Follow the link above to view the Ag-note.

To kick off the next series of Ag-notes compiled by The Ohio State University’s AS 4004 class of 2019, I found it appropriate to hit a timely topic, parasites, especially with the previously wet and now hot and humid environmental conditions that many livestock and their producers are experiencing. Therefore, Animal Sciences students Kirsten McCollough, Kourtney Sprague, Jamie Summers, Kristi Lampton, and Hannah Whitaker chose to focus on a specific parasite that is continually becoming more difficult to manage for small ruminant producers raising sheep and goats on pasture – Haemonchus contortus. Continue reading

Late Summer Establishment of Perennial Forages

Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Wayne County
Dr. Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist, The Ohio State University

We are quickly approaching the second good opportunity of the year for establishing perennial forage stands, which is in the month of August. Most of us were not able to establish forages this spring, and many existing stands were damaged by the winter followed by the heavy rainfall this year. It is time to make preparations and be ready to plant perennial forage stands in the next few weeks.

Typically, the main risk with late summer forage seedings is sufficient moisture for seed germination and plant establishment. However, many parts of Ohio have adequate soil moisture from recent rains, and the outlook for the first half of August is for normal precipitation levels. Prepare now and be ready to take advantage of planting ahead of storm fronts as they occur in late July and early August. Continue reading

Preparing Low Worm-risk Paddocks

Wormboss
(Previously published on Wormboss, Tests and Tools, Management Tools, Sheep)

Problem: Continuous re-contamination of the paddocks with worm eggs that develop to larvae is a major cause of ongoing worm problems for sheep or goats.

Solution: Preparing low worm-risk paddocks to prevent animals from becoming heavily infected with worms is a key strategy in effective and profitable worm control.

Benefit: Low worm-risk paddocks for key classes of stock at particular times of the year reduce both production loss and the need for chemical (de-worming) intervention. In turn, fewer [treatments] result in Continue reading

Ram Behavior

Jackie Lee, 2019 DVM Candidate, The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine

(Image Source: Stonehaven Farm)

We have all heard the stories of shepherds who have been injured or even killed by rams unexpectedly. The best way to avoid these situations is to prevent them. Knowing normal ram behavior, what promotes ram aggression and methods to mitigate aggression will facilitate producer safety. As a brief aside, there were very few scientific and text resources that impart advice on ram safety and incident prevention, therefore much of this article is attributed to the personal experiences and opinions of myself as well as my colleagues and mentors.

Rams have many typical behaviors that most producers are Continue reading

Recap: Ohio Forage and Grassland Council Tour

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Noble County

On Friday morning July 12th, forage and grassland enthusiasts gathered in Jackson, Ohio for the annual Ohio Forage and Grasslands Council annual sheep and forage tour. A group of twenty, including livestock producers, forage managers, educators, and agricultural industry representatives, headed northwest toward Chillicothe to visit Pastured Providence Farmstead.

There they met Paul Dorrance, the owner and operator of the farm. Paul shared with the group how he came to settle down on a farm in Ohio after a career as a pilot in the United States Air Force. Although he still serves in the reserves out of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, the farm is his full-time job. Paul and Continue reading

Pasture-Raised Livestock and Pasture Consultant Farm Tour

Mike Estadt, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Pickaway County

Bob Hendershot began his career with the Soil Conservation Service (later changed to the Natural Resources Conservation Service or NRCS) as a soil scientist mapping soils for the soil survey program. He was promoted to a Conservation Agronomist and he and his young family moved to Circleville. He later was promoted to Resource Conservationist and finally State Grassland Conservationist in 1985.

Bob presently lives on the same pasture farm that his family moved to 33 years ago, raising sheep and cattle. He and his late wife Connie have three grown children. After retiring from NRCS, he started Green Pasture Services, a pasture consulting service that sells forage seed and temporary fencing materials. Continue reading

Recap: 2019 Ohio Sheep and Hay Day

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

Supported by The Ohio State University, Ohio Sheep and Wool Program, Ohio Sheep Improvement Association, Ohio Farm Bureau, and a sunny summer day, the 2019 Ohio Sheep and Hay Day held on Saturday, July 13th at the Jackson Agricultural Research Station (JARS) was a success. For those not as familiar with JARS, this facility is located on 495 acres in the rolling hills of southern Ohio. Historically, this stations research interests revolved around beef cattle reproduction and forage management systems. However, in 2014 interest expanded and the research station added sheep to the list of research interests. Jackson is now home to the universities first hair sheep flock using the Katahdin breed.

To kick off the days events, attendees had the opportunity to hear from Continue reading

Can Veggies Stand in for Poor Hay this Year?

Chris Penrose, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Morgan County

Many of us have harvested hay way past its prime this year, the protein and energy is low, and the fiber is high. There is a way to balance the needs of our ruminants this fall by planting some veggies.

Turnips, rape, kale, rutabagas, and swedes are all examples of some veggies from the brassica family we can plant for livestock for feed this fall with turnips being the most common.

Many studies and producer experiences reinforce that brassicas are a viable option to extend the grazing season, and reduce stored feed costs. They tend to have good protein and energy, and are low in fiber (see how this can make for good feed supplemented with poor quality hay). Continue reading

Why Test for OPP?

Rachael Gately, DVM, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University

Ovine Progressive Pneumonia (OPP) is a viral disease of sheep that has been reported to affect over 25% of sheep in North America. Ovine Progressive Pneumonia is closely related to Caprine Arthritis and Encephalitis (CAE) that affects goats. Both diseases manifest similarly in each species. Ovine Progressive Pneumonia can cause a variety of clinical diseases ranging from chronic and progressive weight loss, difficulty breathing, swollen joints and lameness, as well as hard, unproductive udders. The most common presentation of the disease; however, has no clinical signs of illness. Unfortunately, sheep exhibiting any of the presentations listed above can spread the disease through nose-to-nose contact or through infected colostrum and/or milk. Once a sheep becomes infected, they are infected for life. Continue reading

For Sheep Producers, a Trace of Trace Minerals Worth a Pound of Cure

Whit Stewart, Extension Sheep Specialist, University of Wyoming
(Previously published in Barnyards & Backyards, July 2018)

As summer progresses and forage quality declines, we are quick to think of shortfalls in protein and energy in nutritional management yet tend to overlook micronutrients such as trace minerals. Even though these are required in relatively smaller quantities than protein and energy, they are essential for basic physiological functions and should be prioritized.

Essential macro minerals, including calcium, chloride, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and sulfur make up major components of skeletal and nervous systems and are usually expressed as a percentage of the diet. In contrast, micro minerals, or trace minerals, are required Continue reading

Rain Damage to Hay

Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Wayne County

(Image Source: Staheli West)

It’s turned into another challenging and frustrating year to make hay as above normal rainfall continued through the end of June. I recently read an article in Hay and Forage Grower on-line entitled “Cursing the raindrops”, in which author Mike Rankin addressing this year’s weather patterns said, “Those putting up high-moisture forage have an uphill battle. If you’re in the dry hay business, it’s a Mount Everest situation.” The age-old question for anyone trying to make hay with rain in the forecast is mow sooner rather than later and risk rain on the cut forage, or wait for a weather break and lose quality as the forage continues to mature?

Rain on mowed forage causes a reduction in quality and can result in dry matter (quantity) losses as well. According Continue reading

Supplementation of Pasture-Raised Lambs Increases Animal Performance and Health

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

To capitalize on the niche market of grass-fed lamb products, have you ever considered placing a group of feeder lambs on pasture? The utilization of pastureland and the financial return from grass-fed products makes this type of production system profitable. However, grass-fed lamb production does not come without challenges. According to the USDA, in order for a product to be labeled as grass-fed, the animal must be fed solely forages, with the exclusion of its mother’s milk prior to weaning. From a production standpoint, this can be a difficult as research has shown that lambs finished on pasture take a longer period of time when compared to their counterparts fed grain. Lambs on pasture also face the challenge of parasitic infection. In an effort to decrease the effects of parasites and increase lamb body weight gain on pasture, producers may choose to supplement lambs while on pasture. However, supplementation of grain or grain by-products is not permitted by Continue reading

Planning Ahead: There is Still Time to produce Quality Feed for the Winter

Chris Penrose, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Morgan County

We are starting to get an idea of how much stored feed we will have for the winter and in many circumstances, the quality will be low. Even if our livestock get plenty of hay this winter, the quality may be so low that the hay cannot meet their nutritional needs. There may need to be supplementation. We have a couple options: we can purchase supplements, utilize harvested crop residue, or we still grow some crops for fall and winter supplementation.

One product many producers buy is protein tubs. While the animals really like these products, it does not address their most pressing need: energy. The most commonly used product used to supply energy is corn. Adding some corn or Continue reading

Do Not Let a Tick Bite Make You Allergic to Dinner

Dr. Tim McDermott, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Franklin County

Livestock producers have had a lot on their plates lately. The weather including constant rain has damaged pasture as well as made timely hay making difficult. While I do not want to add to this list of worries, I want to make sure to educate producers that there is a new-ish tick concern that can dramatically affect the lifestyle of a producer of swine, cattle, and small ruminants. Over the last decade we have seen an increase both in the spread of new tick species into our region as well as new diseases and allergic syndromes that can be vectored to producers from these invasive species. Lyme disease was Continue reading

Feeding Moldy Hay can Create Problems in Livestock

Feedstuffs staff
(Previously published on Feedstuffs on June 24, 2019)

(Image Source: Feedstuffs – Oklahoma State University)

Adverse weather conditions during or after baling can allow mold growth, but pastures may also pose contamination risk.

With the abundance of rain that has fallen in the Midwest over the last several weeks, farmers and ranchers are likely dealing with moldy hay and spoiled feed. Moldy or spoiled feed can present a health risk for multiple species, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension equine specialist Kris Hiney said.

“Hay can be unfit for livestock due to excessive moisture while baling or exposure to the elements, such as excessive rain or flooding. Molds present in the feed may contain mycotoxins, which can cause significant health issues,” Hiney said. “While only some molds produce Continue reading

Assessing your Pastures – Both Above and Below the Surface

Tony Nye, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Clinton County

Having issues with your pastures? A soil test is always a great place to start!

Now is the time to start assessing the overall conditions of your pastures to decide what management steps must be taken to continue having a productive pasture for the coming year. Looking at the overall pasture composition becomes an important step to determining if any improvement is necessary.

What is the percent of bare ground exposed? Is it due to heavy traffic, over grazing, poor drainage or poor fertility? What is the amount of grass to legumes throughout the pasture? Do you have a lot of weeds? These are some important questions that we need to ask ourselves as we continue to battle challenging pasture and weather challenges this year. Continue reading

Summer Management of Replacement Ewe Lambs

Dr. Scott P. Greiner, Professor and Extension Animal Scientist, Beef/Sheep, Department of Animal & Poultry Sciences, Virginia Tech
(Previously published with Premier1Supplies)

Successful development,breeding, and lambing of ewe lambs is one of most important tasks of the shepherd. Summer is a critical time for the development of replacement ewe lambs as they make the transition from weaning to members of the breeding flock. Proper management of replacement ewe lambs during this time is critical to their future productivity and profitability.

In most breeding systems, replacement ewe lambs will be generated from within the flock. Therefore, attention to maternal traits in the rams siring potential replacements is critical. Additionally, preference should be given to crossbred ewe lambs. Crossbred animals have two major advantages over straightbred animals: 1) Crossbred animals exhibit heterosis (hybrid vigor), and 2) Crossbred animals combine the strengths of the breeds used to form the cross (breed complementarity). Crossbred females are superior to straightbreds for reproductive performance due to advantages received from heterosis. Crossbred ewes exhibit significant advantages Continue reading

Nutritional Flushing of Small Ruminants – Preparing for Fall Breeding

Washington State University Extension, Animal Agriculture
(Previously published on the WSU Extension Animal Agriculture page)

Introduction
Flushing isn’t just an aspect of indoor plumbing—it’s also part of a well-managed flock’s nutrition and reproduction program. This article will address the why’s and how’s of flushing sheep and goats.

Flushing Defined
What is flushing, anyway? The term describes a temporary but purposeful elevation in the plane of nutrition around breeding time. Its objective is to boost ovulation, conception, and embryo implantation rates. Flushing may also increase the proportion of females that exhibit estrus. Boosting these rates increases lambing and kidding rates by Continue reading

Improve Summer Pastures with Crabgrass

Michaela King, Hay and Forage Grower summer editorial intern
(Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: June 18, 2019)

(Image Source: Noble Research Institute)

After being brought to the forefront by studies done at the Noble Research Institute (Ardmore, OK), crabgrass began gaining favor as a high-quality forage alternative. Many farmers are now considering it for improving summer pastures.

In an Arkansas Dairy e-News article, John Jennings, an extension forage specialist with the University of Arkansas (UA), notes crabgrass is a warm-season annual and, depending on rainfall, produces 2-5 tons of dry matter per acre. Crabgrass hay is typically better quality than Continue reading

Grazing Management – Reducing the Use of Anthelmintics

Wormboss
(Previously published on Wormboss, Tests and Tools, Sheep)

Problem:
Continually high worm burdens in your grazing animals resulting in the need to drench more frequently.

Solution:
Managing the frequency and intensity with which livestock graze pasture reduces the number of infective larvae ingested from the pasture each day.

Benefit:
Effective grazing management will reduce the exposure of vulnerable sheep to larvae on pasture and the need for chemical (drench) intervention and at the same time provide nutrition to allow sheep to better deal with parasites. Continue reading

Diarrhea (Scours) in Small Ruminants

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

(Image Source: National Animal Disease Information Service)

Diarrhea is defined as an increased frequency, fluidity, or volume of fecal excretion. The feces may contain blood or mucous and be smelly. The color of the feces may be abnormal. However, it is not possible to definitively determine the infectious organism by looking at the color, consistency, or odor of the feces. A definitive identification requires a sample for microbiological analysis.

In livestock, diarrhea is called scours. There can be many causes of diarrhea: bacterial, viral, parasites, and diet. Continue reading

Don’t let 2019 be a Barn Burner

Michaela King, Hay and Forage Grower summer editorial intern
(Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: June 11, 2019)

This spring has not been a kind one to farmers; it’s wet, and the forecast continues to call for more rain. Fields are being left unplanted, and hay is losing nutritional value with each passing day.

If current weather patterns continue, this sets up a scenario where hay harvest moisture is pushed to the limit or cut hay gets rained on.

Do you bale wet hay with the risk of it heating and producing mold, or do you continue to let the nutritional value of the crop drop? Continue reading

Use FAMACHA Correctly

Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Wayne County

Pulling from the archives, we found it timely and appropriate to share this piece from our very own Rory Lewandowski as he reviews the benefits of implementing the FAMACHA© eye scoring system in your operation. Here at the university, we began our summer grazing project with 96 lambs, all of which will be FAMACHA© eye scored every 14 days over the course of the study as one of five measurements to track parasitism. Proper use of the of the FAMACHA© eye scoring system will be sure to prove beneficial to you and your flock/herd over the course of this grazing year.

A number of sheep and goat owners have been trained across Ohio in the use of the FAMACHA© eye scoring system, yet problems with internal parasites, in particular, with Haemonchus contortus continue. This is to be expected. Continue reading

Proper Handling of Livestock Vaccines

Melanie Barkley, Livestock Extension Educator, Penn State Extension
(previously published on the Penn State Extension, Animals and Livestock page)

(Image Source: Susan Schoenian – Sheep 201)

Looking at a group of healthy sheep peacefully grazing while their lambs bounce around the pasture can be a very satisfying experience.

Proper handling of vaccines will help to insure that ewes remain healthy and produce healthy and vigorous lambs.

However, healthy animals don’t just happen, they take time and care. One step to keeping animals healthy involves vaccinating them to protect against disease. In order to accomplish good protection against disease, it is important to handle vaccines properly. Continue reading

Forage Analysis: What Numbers Do I Need

Justin W. Waggoner, Kansas State University
(Previously published in The Stock Exchange News: May 30, 2019)

One the more common questions I receive with regard to analytical testing of forages and other feedstuffs is, “I have the sample, now what do I test for or what analysis package should I select?”

The basic components that nutritionists need to evaluate a feedstuff or develop a ration are dry matter or moisture, crude protein, an estimate of the energy content of the feedstuff — Total Digestible Nutrients (TDN), Net Energy for Maintenance (NEm), Net Energy for gain (NEg), and the macro minerals, Calcium and Phosphorous. These are the most basic numbers that are required, but Continue reading

3rd Annual Eastern NSIP Sheep Sale

Rusty Burgett, Program Director, National Sheep Improvement Program

The National Sheep Improvement Program is excited to announce the 3rd annual Eastern NSIP Sheep Sale will be hosted Saturday, August 10, 2019 at the Wayne County Fairgrounds in Wooster, Ohio.  This event will be a great opportunity to acquire breeding sheep that have been selected for increased productivity and profitability.  All sheep sold will have Estimated Breeding Values from the National Sheep Improvement Programs.  The NSIP offers EBVs for growth potential, carcass characteristics, reproduction, fleece traits and parasite resistance.  A variety of breeds will be offered including Polypay, Suffolk, Hampshire, Katahdin and more. Continue reading

Feeding Long-fed Lambs: The Effect of Energy Source and Level, and Sex on Growth, Performance, and Carcass Characteristics of Lambs

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

If you recall from last week, Jaborek et al. (2017) investigated how feed source and amount of feed offered per feeding affected lamb growth, performance, and carcass characteristics. In that experiment, lambs were fed to live weights of 130 – 140 lbs. and were fed for approximately for 100 days. This system is representative of the Eastern US sheep production. However, this system does not apply to all producers. For those producers that decide to retain lambs for an extended period of time beyond this typical market size and condition, lets try to understand how the number of days on feed affects lamb growth, performance, and carcass characteristics summarizing a paper by Jaborek et al. (2018) that fed lambs for an additional length of time (218 days on feed total). Continue reading

Southeast Ohio FAMACHA© and a Fecal Egg Count Workshop

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Noble County

Noble County OSU Extension will be hosting a FAMACHA© and a Fecal Egg Count Workshop at the Eastern Agricultural Research Station in Belle Valley, Ohio (16870 Bond Ridge Road Caldwell, OH 43724) on Friday, June 28th from 9:00 am – 3:00 pm.

Parasites are the top issue facing sheep and goat producers in the Eastern United States. FAMACHA© eye scores and fecal egg counts are helpful tools for small ruminant producers seeking better parasite control in their flocks. These workshops will provide training for producers to conduct FAMACHA© eye scores and fecal egg counts at home. Continue reading

Feeding Lambs: The Effect of Energy Source and Level, and Sex on Growth, Performance, and Carcass Characteristics of Lambs

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

As the month of May comes to an end, there are two thoughts that come to mind. One, early born lambs raised indoors on grain are approaching market appropriate condition (live body weight and fat cover). Two, according to the Ethnic Holiday Calendar provided by the Maryland Small Ruminant program, Eid ul-Fitr (the Festival of Fasting Breaking for the Muslim faith) begins in two weeks. With this being said, shepherds with available lambs may consider selling their lambs in order to capitalize on the increased market value of lamb as a major ethnic holiday approaches just prior to the summer slump. However, marketing lambs towards this type of niche market can be challenging as some holiday dates continuously change from year to year. Although it is too late for this year to change your diets, feeding program, and management practices, it is important to consider what diet your lambs are being fed in order to achieve these marketing goals for the future. Therefore, in order to understand how sex, feed source, and amount of feed offered per feeding affects lamb growth, performance, and carcass characteristics, this week Jaborek et al. (2017) provides us with the data to do just that. Continue reading

Heat Stress in Small Ruminants

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

Over the past weekend, my family and I spent some time installing a new water line to give us access to more grazing area. As we spent most of both days in the sun, I began to work on 2019’s farmers tan. As I write this up, my arms are still feeling the heat of the weekend. With this being said, I thought that it would be timely to talk about heat stress in our favorite livestock species, sheep and goats. Any time we talk about feeding livestock, we note the importance of fresh, clean water. This is always a given regardless of the time of year. There is also discussion about wool on sheep during the summer months. Wool is actually quite beneficial when it comes to protecting against the hot summer sun. For more on these two topics and others related to heat stress, be sure to check out this weeks discussion provided by Susan Schoenian.

Extreme heat is stressful to livestock, as well as people. High temperatures are even more problematic in states like Maryland, because high temperatures are also often accompanied by high humidity. The heat index (temperature + humidity) is a more accurate measure of heat stress (hyperthermia) than temperature alone. Continue reading

Emergency Forages for Planting Early to Mid-Summer

Dr. Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist, The Ohio State University
Dr. Bill Weiss, Dairy Nutrionist, The Ohio State University

Many forage stands were damaged this past winter, and the wet spring has further deteriorated stands that appeared they might recover. It is now too risky to try to establish perennial forages, with the warmer summer weather at our doorstep. We should wait until August to establish perennial stands. Meanwhile, what options can we consider for growing forage this year?

We are also well past the time when cool-season species like oats, triticale, Italian ryegrass, spring barley can be planted. As we move into late May and early June, we must switch to planting warm-season species. Continue reading

Control Pasture Weeds Now

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Noble County

With the combination of sunny warm days and more than adequate rainfall received so far in May, grasses and legumes in our hayfields are beginning to flower. Which means, according to our knowledge of grass maturity and forage quality, it’s already time to make hay. If the weather will cooperate, that is.

It’s also prime time to control pasture weeds. Thistles, docks, ironweed, asters, poison hemlock, and cockleburs are up and actively growing. Control on these species is most effective when Continue reading

2019 Licking County Sheep A.I. Day

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

Have you ever considered using artificial insemination to rapidly increase the genetic diversity of your flock or to produce superior offspring for show and replacement breeding stock, but was unable to do so due to the cost? If so, look no further. Back due to popular demand, the Licking County Sheep Improvement Association will be providing Ohio and surrounding state shepherds the opportunity to expand the genetics of their flocks in using A.I. techniques with the services being provided by Reproduction Specialty Group – Dr. Tad Thompson, DVM. The event is set for Saturday, August 17, 2019 at the Hartford Fairgrounds. Continue reading

2019 Ohio Sheep and Hay Day Programming

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

Calling all small and large ruminant producers. The Ohio State University Department of Animal Sciences and Ohio Sheep Improvement Association would like to announce that the 2019 Ohio Sheep and Hay Day will be held on Saturday, July 13 at the Jackson Agriculture Research Station (JARS) located at 019 Standpipe Rd., Jackson, OH 45640.

This year’s program will offer attendees the opportunity to visit one of Ohio State’s outlying research stations that focuses on efficient ruminant livestock and forage production. This programs aim is to provide producers with the tools they need to continue increasing on-farm livestock and hay production.

A list of programming topics include: Continue reading

What Data are you Collecting? The Value of NSIP in Commercial Production

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

Data collection. Seems pretty simple right? Most of you are probably reading this and thinking, “we already collect data on our flock, what else could he be talking about?” As any good shepherd would do, you are probably recording the basic information such as sex, birth date, birth type, dam, sire, and individual identification on each newborn in your flock. Some of you may even be collecting birth and weaning weights to gather a better understand on the performance of your flock in the short term. However, I will venture to say Continue reading

Some Guidelines to Remember when Making and Feeding Haylage

John Cothren, County Extension Director and Extension Agent, Agriculture – Livestock and Field Crops, N.C. Cooperative Extension, Wilkes County Center
(Previously published on North Carolina Cooperative Extension: December 29, 2014)

(Image Source: Hoard’s Dairyman)

With the continued wet conditions we have been experiencing in Ohio, I find it appropriate to discuss how to harvest and manage our forages in different manners in order to maintain forage quality. This week, John Cothren dives into some important guidelines to remember when making and feeding fermented forages.

Silage makes an excellent feed for ruminant animals. However, feeding silage is much different than feeding hay. Silage, Continue reading

Wet Pastures? Do this

Hay and Forage Grower Staff
(Previously published on Hay & Forage Grower: September 4, 2018)

It’s a dilemma that happens to nearly every livestock producer at one point or another: Copious amounts of good forage to graze coupled with soils that have been saturated by unrelenting rainfall.

In such situations, business as usual may result in permanent damage to the paddock and its soils. The problem is exacerbated when summer or winter annuals comprise the forage source. Continue reading

Johne’s Disease in Small Ruminants

Michael Metzger, Michigan State University Extension Educator
(Previously published on MSU Extension, Sheep & Goat: January 3, 2019)

(Image Source: NADIS)

Johne’s is a serious disease that affects small ruminants.

Johne’s disease is a fatal gastrointestinal disease of sheep and goats and other ruminants (including cattle, elk, deer, and bison) that is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP). Also known as paratuberculosis, this infection is contagious, which means it can spread in your flock or herd. Young animals are more susceptible to the disease than adults. It is primarily spread by the fecal-oral route but may also be transmitted across the placenta and through milk and colostrum of infected ewes and does. The most consistent clinical sign in sheep and goats is Continue reading

Intermediate and Advanced Ohio Sheep Shearing School

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

(Image Source: Lamb Shoppe LLC)

In addition to the annual spring and fall sheep shearing schools sponsored by the Ohio Sheep Improvement Association, Ohio will also be hosting an intermediate and advanced sheep shearing school scheduled for the weekend of July 27th and 28th from 8:30 am – 5:00 pm at the Dave Cable Farm in Hebron, Ohio. As a note, the Ohio State Fair sheep shearing contest will be held on Friday, July 26th beginning at 10:00 am in the sheep barn show arena. Those interested in participating or viewing are encouraged to join! Continue reading

Establishing New Forage Stands

Dr. Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist, The Ohio State University

This month provides one of the two preferred times to seed perennial cool-season forages, the other being late summer. Two primary difficulties with spring plantings are finding a good window of opportunity when soils are dry enough before it gets too late and managing weed infestations that are usually more difficult with spring plantings. The following 10 steps will help improve your chances for successful forage establishment in the spring. Continue reading

What are Your Bedding Options?

Jason Hartschuh, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Crawford County

Wheat fields are finally turning green. As we do stand evaluations, many producers are weighing poor stands versus their need for livestock bedding. As you weigh your options, be sure to consider alternative agronomic crop fodder or cover crops as a bedding source. The two most common beddings, wheat straw and sawdust, are both already in short supply across the state of Ohio.

Precut Rye Straw
The first harvestable option is to look at cover crops you or a neighbor have planted. One option that has gained some popularity is precut rye straw. If your wheat stand is present, but not thick enough to take to head, you could follow these same principles making Continue reading

Soremouth (Orf) in Small Ruminants

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

With livestock sale season well under way here in the state of Ohio and across the country, countless sheep and youth are being united for an exciting summer together filled with memories of working in the barn to exhibiting their projects at the fair. With several sheep traveling and potentially changing hands multiple times, it is important to stop and think about what your lambs or the locations in which they were sold may have from a disease standpoint. One of the most common that you may encounter is soremouth. As a means to refresh ourselves on this disease, Susan Schoenian shares the ins and outs of this disease and reminds us that it can be spread from lamb to lamb or lamb to human.

Soremouth is the most common skin disease affecting sheep and goats. It is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus in the “pox” family. Soremouth goes by many names including contagious ecthyma, (contagious) pustular dermatitis, and orf. In Australia, it is commonly called “scabby mouth.” Continue reading

Use Sound Grazing Practices to Reduce Overgrazing and Weeds

Linda Geist, University of Missouri Extension
(Previously published in Drovers Newsletter: March 10, 2019)

Weed problems may explode this year thanks to the drought of 2018 and residual problems associated with overgrazing in parched pastures, says University of Missouri Extension agronomist Valerie Tate.

Last year’s extreme weather conditions created a forage shortage. As a result, many pastures were overgrazed. Continue reading

Focusing on Grazing Management and Soil Health

Jason Johnson, Public Affairs Specialist, USDA NRCS
(Previously published online in Wallaces Farmer: April 15, 2019)

Row crop farmers are beginning to focus more on improving soil health on their land for long-term sustainability. But according to USDA soil health and grassland specialists, livestock producers can also implement soil health practices to improve their pastures.

Many Midwest farmers are using soil conservation practices like no-till farming, cover crops and extended crop rotations to improve soil health on cropland. Similarly, livestock producers can adopt practices traditionally meant for forage improvement to feed microorganisms and add organic matter to the soil. Practices like rotational grazing, interseeding and forage harvest management help improve both forages and soil health. Continue reading

Combination De-wormers: The Time is Now

Dr. Ray Kaplan, Professor of Parasitology, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia
(Previously published on American Consortium for Small Ruminant Parasite Control, January 2017)

(Image Source: American Consortium for Small Ruminant Parasite Control)

There now is very strong evidence that using combination treatment is the best method for using de-wormers and should be instituted on all farms immediately.

Resistance to de-wormers is a fact of life, and the situation has worsened greatly in recent years. Surveys indicate that most farms have worms resistant to at least two of the three major groups of de-wormers. Many have resistance to all three groups, and some farms now have resistance to all available de-wormers. But, having worms in your animals that are resistant to de-wormers does not mean that all the worms are resistant. For instance, when all the commonly used de-wormers were first introduced, their efficacy was > 99%. Once efficacy falls below Continue reading

The Importance of Water and its Source

Callie Burnett, M.S. Animal and Veterinary Sciences, Clemson University
(Previously published in AGDAILY: March 29, 2019)

The importance of water as a factor in livestock production.

Although it’s “officially” spring according to the calendar, it may be a bit too early for me to extend my congratulations to you for making it through what many of us would call a rough winter. We’re close, but I certainly don’t want to jinx it. Depending on where you’re located, winter is still hanging around and with winter weather comes the not-so-joyous task of “breaking the ice,” literally. If you’re a herdsman or livestock producer, it’s very likely that you’ve had to spend a decent portion of your early mornings breaking ice in buckets, stock tanks, waterers, and the like. Sometimes, despite our greatest efforts, those things just aren’t able to stand up to the (sometimes below) freezing temperatures. Continue reading

Trace Mineral Deficiency

Jeff Cave, District Veterinary Officer, Agriculture Victoria, Wodonga
(Previously Published on Agriculture Victoria: Sheep Notes)

(Image Source: Jeff Cave – Sheep with Swayback)

Have you ever wondered whether your stock have a trace mineral deficiency?

Trace minerals such as copper, cobalt, selenium, and iodine are only required in small amounts but are still essential for optimal production, and for life. In contrast, macro-minerals such as calcium and phosphorus are required in larger amounts. Trace mineral deficiencies arise when the amount of the mineral in the food that is available for absorption by the animal through their gut is insufficient to meet their needs.

Growing animals have the highest demand for Continue reading

Scrapie Program Update Clarification – What You Need to Know

Kyle Partain, American Sheep Industry (ASI) writer/editor
(Previously published in the ASI weekly newsletter: March 29, 2019)

New regulation improves scrapie eradication program.

A long-awaited scrapie rule was published this week in the Federal Register. The rule – which was first proposed in 2015 by U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service – has been anticipated by the American sheep and goat industry since 2016.

For the most part, the industry will not notice much of a difference in the scrapie eradication program, but some segments will see a change. Particularly, changes will be noticed by goat producers and those moving animals in slaughter channels (except wethers less than 18 months of age) or transporting unidentified sheep or goats. Continue reading

Early-Spring Planted Forages

Dr. Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist, The Ohio State University
Dr. Bill Wise, Extension Dairy Specialist, The Ohio State university

Although this article was written with the intent to serve dairy farms in times of need when feed resources are low, this information can easily be applied to any type of ruminant grazing system. For those that are looking for ways to increase their forage nutritive value, a new species of quality forage to graze, or simply looking for something new to use, be sure to check out this piece on alternative spring forages that can be planted on-farm this spring!

Challenging growing conditions in 2018 left many dairy farms looking at short forage supplies heading into the 2019 growing season. So, what are the options for short-season forages planted in early spring this year? Continue reading

On-farm Parasite Management Strategies

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

If you recall the article (Understanding Parasites on Pasture) from last week, we discussed the parasite life cycle and factors that affect overall survivability and of parasites on pasture. As promised, this week we will dive into a list of parasite management practices that producers have available in order to protect their herds and flocks from the losses associated with parasitic infection. With this being said, I’d like to first start with why previous recommendations that relied heavily on the use of de-worming (anthelmintic) products as a means of controlling parasites is no longer a viable option.

In short, because of the continual use of anthelmintic products, the livestock industry is being faced with Continue reading

USDA Updates Scrapie Regulations and Program Standards

USDA APHIS
(Previously published on USDA UPHIS: March 22, 2019)

(Image Source: University of Maryland Extension)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal Plant Health and Inspection Service (APHIS) is updating its scrapie regulations and program standards. These updates include several major changes, which are needed to continue the fight to eradicate scrapie from U.S. sheep flocks and goat herds. Scrapie is a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) disease that affects the central nervous system in sheep and goats, and is eventually fatal.    

The changes APHIS is making today to update the program are supported by the sheep and goat industry and incorporate the latest science to provide APHIS with increased flexibility as we work together with producers to get rid of this disease.   Continue reading

5 Reasons Why Soil Biology Matters on the Farm

Jeff Goodwin, Conservation Stewardship Leader and Pasture and Range Consultant
(Previously published with Noble Research Institute; March 13, 2019)

(Image Source: Noble Research Institute)

Success and long-term viability for most agricultural enterprises ultimately hinges on the health of their soil. This is true for beef operations in the Southern Great Plains to row crop farms in the Midwest.

For decades, the agriculture industry has focused, studied, and ultimately understood the physical and chemical characteristics of our soil resource (e.g., soil texture, soil pH, etc.). However, until the past few years, little emphasis has been placed on the biological constituents and their importance in a healthy, functional soil. Continue reading

Understanding Parasites on Pasture

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

Image of an adult Haemonchus parasite recovered from the abomasum of a lamb

Recently, I had a sheep producer ask me, “when do I need to start thinking about parasites on my pastures?” This is a great question and certainly a valid concern as livestock are making their way to pastures this spring.

Now I know what some of you are thinking, “I don’t have issues with parasites. If I did, my sheep would be showing clinical signs of disease such as decreased appetite, decreased  activity, or even death.” However, this is a common mistake that we as producers make too often. Typically, clinical signs of parasitic infection are only noticed when the cases become severe. According to Dr. Thomas Craig, DVM, PhD, DACVM, most losses associated with parasitic infection are Continue reading

Scottish Sheep Production Through an American Lens

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

For those of you that followed us on Facebook (OSU Sheep Team) last week, you may have noticed that our postings were a bit different than usual. Over spring break I had the great opportunity to help lead the study abroad trip, Scotland Ruminants. Over the course of our eight day trip, 36 undergraduate Animal Sciences students and 3 advisors toured Scotland’s countryside learning everything from veterinary school opportunities at the University of Glasgow to ruminant production systems in Scotland which included the sheep, goat, beef, dairy, and for our pseudo ruminant friends, alpacas along with much more!

If I were to talk about each part of the trip, you may be reading this for a while. So, with that, I’d like to take a few minutes to compare and contrast Scotland’s sheep industry to ours here in the States. While at the university of Glasgow, Continue reading

eShepherd – The Future of Grazing Livestock

Marcus Tainsh, Pesel & Carr (on behalf of Agersens)
Amber Robinson, The Ohio State University
Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

Agersens to work with The Ohio State University to to test eShepherd in the U.S. beef, dairy, and small ruminant industries.

Agersens and The Ohio State University have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that paves the way for the two organizations to implement research trials to determine the efficacy and economics of the eShepherd system for local conditions.

eShepherd is a smart collar system for livestock, enabling producers to create “virtual fences” and use their smart device to remotely fence, move, and monitor their livestock around the clock from anywhere in the world. Continue reading

Prepare to Evaluate Forage Stands for Winter Injury

Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Wayne County
Dr. Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist, The Ohio State University
(Previously published in the C.O.R.N Newsletter)

Forage stands will begin spring green-up in the next few weeks, especially in southern Ohio. While winter injury in forages is very hard to predict, this winter has presented some very tough conditions for forage stands. This is especially true of legumes like alfalfa and red clover. Producers and crop consultants should be prepared to walk forage stands early this spring to assess their condition in time to make decisions and adjustments for the 2019 growing season.

We had some days with very cold air temperatures, but the soil temperatures have been much more moderate than you might expect. The soil temperature at the 2-inch depth is associated with the temperature of plant crowns. The coldest 2-inch soil temperatures recorded since January 1 at The Ohio State University Agricultural Research Stations occurred in late January to early February, falling to 17.8 F at Continue reading

Preparing Your Pasture for Spring

Dr. Jessica Williamson, Extension Forage Specialist, Penn State University
(Previously published on the Penn State Extension webpage: March 17, 2015)

Now is the time to capitalize on warm, early spring days.

As the blanket of snow that covered the majority of the state throughout the winter continues to melt away, seedlings of perennial forages will begin to emerge from the ground, reflecting a hint of green across pastures as a reminder that spring is on the way. When planning to get your pastures ready for spring, the earlier the planning begins the better.

Soil Fertility
Applying fertilizer according to your fall soil sample will ensure optimum pH and Continue reading

The Effects of Dietary Acidity and Sulfur on Feedlot Lamb Performance Fed Dried Distillers Grains with Solubles

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

Last week we featured the article “Benefits to Adding DDGS to Small Ruminant Diets” that outlined several research projects highlighting the benefits of adding dried distillers grains with solubles (DDGS) to sheep and goat diets. As bio-fuel production continues to be a viable industry, understanding how to efficiently and effectively utilize by-products from this industry will be key in livestock feeding profitability.

For those that took the time to view all the links provided in the text, you would have noticed that a couple of those projects were based here at The Ohio State University. Within the US Grains Council report, one summary in particular from Continue reading

Small Ruminant Abortion Panels

Dr. Jeff Hayes, DVM, MS, ADDL Pathology Section Head
(Previously published on the Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory Newsletter, March 2019)

Abortions in sheep and goats are common submissions to the Animal Disease Diagnostic laboratory (ADDL), particularly in late winter and spring. The ADDL has assembled a multi-discipline diagnostic panel approach to guide practitioners on samples needed, tests offered to address most typical abortion-causing pathogens, and the cost of the workup. The goals are to present a thorough diagnostic plan that is expedient to collect, provide a working differential diagnosis, and that is done at an affordable price. Fresh samples that are most useful – required – include Continue reading

BioWorma® US Launch

BioWorma® Team Press Release

The day is here!

(Image Source: BioWorma® Team)

We are happy to announce that the first shipment of BioWorma® and Livamol® with BioWorma® has now been received and cleared meaning we are now open for business in the U.S. with our first official distributor being Premier 1 Supplies, located in Iowa. We expect to add a number of distributors/suppliers shortly.

We are actively looking for farm re-sellers (Livamol with BioWorma®) and veterinarians (BioWorma®) to supply and support BioWorma®. For further information, please contact info@bioworma.com. Continue reading

Weaning Practices that Limit Stress on Ewes and Lambs

Melanie Barkley, Livestock Extension Educator, Penn State Extension
(previously published on the Penn State Extension, Animals and Livestock page)

A few simple steps preparing for weaning can minimize the stress to both ewes and lambs in your flock.

A few simple steps will help these lambs, and their mothers, get through weaning with a minimum of stress.

Ewes baaing, lambs crying, and shepherds wishing for quiet: will the noise never cease! These are all signs that weaning is commencing. However, some of that baaing and crying can be minimized if shepherds take a few simple steps to prepare for weaning. And, this can limit the stress to both ewes and lambs in the flock.

Weaning practices should Continue reading

Benefits of Adding DDGS to Small Ruminant Diets

Minnesota Bio-fuels Association
(Previously published on the Minnesota Bio-fuels Association webpage: March 1, 2017)

February was National Lamb Month! And we took this annual opportunity to highlight the benefits that DDGS continue to provide within the sheep industry.

A reminder that DDGS or (dried distillers grains with solubles) are a high protein animal feed and one of the co-products made during ethanol production. In Minnesota, every bushel of corn produces about 2.8 gallons of ethanol, 18 lbs. of DDGS and 1.5 lbs. of corn oil. In 2016, Minnesota produced 3.5 million tons of dried distiller’s grains.

The majority of the starch from corn is removed during the process of producing ethanol so the resulting DDGS co-product are a high-energy feed source of concentrated protein and high fiber. According to Iowa State University’s Center for Agricultural and Rural Development, DDGS contain 10 percent to 15 percent more energy than corn grain. Continue reading

Forage Varieties Matter

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Noble County
(Previously published in Progressive Forage, January 30, 2019)

At A Glance:
When you are in the market for forage seed, get prepared before you drive to the co-op to shop. Variety is an influential factor in the success or failure of your forage stand.

Species vs. Variety vs. Cultivar
If you are not familiar with binomial nomenclature (the international language for naming plants), lets clarify the differences between species, variety, and cultivar, which are all terms you will encounter during seed selection.

Species
L. H. Bailey, the author of the Manual of Cultivated Plants, defines species as Continue reading

Tips for Detecting Disease or Injury in Sheep and Goats

Richard Brzozowski PhD, Anne Lichtenwalner DVM PhD, and Jim Weber DVM PhD, Cooperative Extension and School of Food and Agriculture, University of Maine
(Previously published as a Bulletin on The University of Maine Cooperative Extension page)

As a sheep or goat producer, you know that the health of your animals is essential for optimum performance and profitability. You will likely use 4 of your 5 senses (sight, smell, touch, and hearing) in detecting disease or injury of your livestock. Building skills and knowledge to quickly identify signs of poor health of your livestock can help in their early treatment and recovery. Some individuals have the innate ability to interpret signs and symptoms of animals while other people have to work at mastering the interpretation of different situations. Take notes or photos of normal and abnormal animal conditions as these could help you improve your skills and abilities. Organize this information to help remember past circumstances and treatments. Several tips to help you interpret normal and abnormal health conditions of sheep and goats are listed below for your possible use. This list may be helpful when discussing sick animals with your veterinarian over the phone. Continue reading

Making Pasture and Forages Work for Sheep

Dean Oswald, University of Illinois Extension, Animal Systems Educator
(Previously published on Sheep & Goats, Illinois Livestock Trail, January 15, 2010)

Although the original publication of this article was over nine years ago, it still contains useful tips and suggestions when thinking about creating and maintaining pastures for small ruminant production. As we begin to prepare for the 2019 growing season, some of these tips may help you outline the next step in your pasture management program. To view the outlined check lists provided, click below to continue reading. Continue reading

Ag-note: Tools to Alter Breeding Management in Small Ruminants

Autumn Converse, Caitlyn Deeter, Taylor Klass, Jaime Uren, OSU Animal Science Undergraduate Students
Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

CIDR and Light Management in the Breeding of Ewes
** Follow the link above to view the Ag-note.

As we approach the spring breeding season, many producers are already in the midst of either planning or preparing for their 2019 fall lamb crop. Outlined by a previous article here on the webpage, Breeding for Out-of-season Lambs to Fill in the Industry Gaps, fall lambing has several benefits including an increased premium due to the short supply of new born lambs during the fall. However, the production of fall lambs can be challenging as sheep do not commonly breed out-of-season. Sheep are known as short day breeders, meaning that their natural breeding period occurs in the fall with shorter days. Some breeds of sheep (i.e. Dorset and Polypay – to name a few) are known as seasonal breeders, meaning they do not have a set breeding season. Therefore, these breeds of sheep are able to breed outside of the fall breeding period and would be beneficial in fall lambing flock. However, what if you were interested in producing fall lambs from other traditional breeds that do not breed out of season naturally? Continue reading

Tube Feeding Small Ruminants

Dr. Susan Kerr, WSU NW Regional Livestock and Dairy Extension Specialist
(Previously published on Washington State University – Whatcom Ag Monthly page)

Tube Feeding Neonatal Small Ruminants: An Essential Skill for Sheep and Goat Farmers

(Image Source: Dr. Susan Kerr – Washington State University)

Introduction
Lambing and kidding are well under way. It is essential that sheep and goat producers learn how to tube feed young animals. This simple procedure can often save a young animal’s life, thereby increasing lambing and kidding crop rates and enhancing profitability. With a brief amount of instruction and a little practice, even children can perform this crucial task quickly, safely and effectively.

Indications
When is tube feeding necessary? Continue reading

Worm-Trapping Fungus

James E. Miller, DVM, Ph.D., Emeritus Professor, School of Veterinary Medicine, Louisiana State University
Joan M. Burke, Ph.D, Research Animal Scientist, USDA-ARS
(Previously published on American Consortium for Small Ruminant Parasite Control, January 2019)

(Image Source: duddingtonia.com)

Nematode-trapping fungi have demonstrated potential as a biological control agent against the immature (larval) stages of gastrointestinal nematodes (worms) in livestock feces under both experimental and natural conditions. These fungi are normal soil inhabitants throughout the world where they feed on a variety of non-parasitic soil worms.

Of the various fungi tested, Duddingtonia flagrans spores have been shown to survive passage through the gastrointestinal tract of ruminants. After defecation, the spores Continue reading

Coccidiosis: Diagnosis, Treatment, and Control

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

Coccidiosis: deadly scourge of lambs and kids

(Image Source: Susan Schoenian, Maryland Small Ruminant Page)

Coccidiosis is a parasitic disease affecting a variety of animals, especially mammals and birds. The causative organism is a microscopic, spore-forming, single-cell protozoa called coccidia. Coccidia are from the same class of organisms (sporozoa) that cause malaria. Coccidia are sub-classified into many genera. In sheep and goats, coccidiosis is caused by the genus Eimeria [6].

Within this genus, there are more than Continue reading

Fact Sheet: Late Gestation/Early Lactation Ewe Nutrition

Dr. Reid Redden, Extension Sheep and Goat Specialist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service
Reviewed by: Dr. Dan Morrical, Sheep Extension Specialist, Iowa State University
(Previously published online as a Let’s Grow Fact Sheet)

Although it may be a bit late this year to change your ewe feeding and management programs, I still find it important to share as you observe your flock this year. Are your ewes in a good body condition score? If not, what could you have done differently to improve? Supported by the Let’s Grow program through the American Sheep Industry, Dr’s Reid Redden and Dan Morrical provide us with some helpful tips to keep our ewes in good shape to prepare for late gestation and early lactation.

Improper nutrition during the last month of gestation and early lactation can have devastating effects on lamb survival and productivity. Most of which occur when ewes are in a poor body-condition score (BCS) entering the last trimester of pregnancy. Therefore, ewe-feeding strategies to maintain productivity and survival of lambs starts well before this critical time period.

Late Gestation Facts: Continue reading

2019 Spring Sheep Shearing School

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

Back due to popular demand, the Ohio Sheep Improvement Association will be offering a spring sheep shearing school scheduled for April 12th and 13th from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm at the Dave Cable Farm in Hebron, Ohio.

During this two day schooling event, attendees will be given the opportunity to learn how to properly shear a sheep using the Australian shearing method. Those in attendance will be taught Continue reading

Mastitis in Sheep and Goats

Michael Metzger, Michigan State University Extension Educator
(Previously published on MSU Extension, Sheep & Goat: January 3, 2019)

Mastitis in sheep and goats is important because it can reduce productivity of the animals and farm profitability.

Mastitis is an important disease of sheep and goats because it decreases the amount and quality of the milk produced by a dairy animal and reduces weight gain in lambs and meat kids. It can also affect the animals well-being. Mastitis is an inflammation of udder. Physical injury, stress, or bacteria can cause mastitis. There are several bacteria which are known to cause mastitis in sheep and goats including Streptococcus sp., Staphylococcus sp., Pasteurella sp., and coliforms, such as E. coli. The exact type of bacteria that is causing the mastitis can only be determined by laboratory analysis. Mastitis can either be clinical or subclinical. Clots or serum in the milk are signs of Continue reading

Practical Aspects of Improving Lamb Survival

Matthew Ipsen, Nuffield Scholar
(Previously published online on Making More from Sheep)

The reproductive performance of ewes is certainly an economically important trait in any commercial enterprise. Attention should be paid to the care of pregnant ewes and their lambs before, during and after birth.

Ensuring the nutritional demands of ewes during each stage of pregnancy, will result in the greatest “return on investment” in terms of maximizing the reproductive performance of sheep and in improving lamb survival.

Improving the nutrition of pregnant ewes will Continue reading

A Biological Trick for Fostering Lambs and Kids: Birth Canal Stimulation

Natasha Pettifor, Cornell University, Department of Animal Science, PhD candidate
(Previously published on extension.org, September 22, 2015)

(Image Source: Natasha Pettifor, extension.org)

Convincing a reluctant new dam to accept an orphaned or rejected lamb or kid can be tricky. Many strategies for “fostering” or “grafting” are frustrating and too often unsuccessful. A technique called vagino-cervical stimulation (VCS), a.k.a. birth canal stimulation, can be helpful and increase the rate of successful grafting. The goal of VCS is to convince the ewe or doe’s body and brain that she is giving birth to another infant. When done correctly, she will bond as strongly and quickly to the grafted lamb or kid as she would to an infant just born to her.

This technique requires a ewe or doe that has given birth within the last 24-26 hours. The more recently she has given birth, the easier the task will be for all involved. Success rates also increase with decreasing lamb or kid age. It is best if the lamb or kid to be grafted is covered in amniotic (birth) fluid. If the lamb or kid is Continue reading

Effects of Dietary Fat in Lamb Feeding Diets

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

If you recall from an article published earlier this month, Dr. Relling and his lab investigated the effects of supplementing fat to gestating ewes. Dr. Relling’s lab compared the supplementation of saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA’s – calcium salts of palm oil) to polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA’s – eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids) on the performance of lambs who’s dam were fed these fatty acids. Through their experiments, Dr. Relling’s lab demonstrated that lambs reared from ewes supplemented with PUFA’s had greater weight gains and therefore a greater economical value when compared to lambs reared from ewes supplemented with MUFA’s.

In taking these points into consideration, producers may Continue reading

Winter Grazing Stockpiled Forages and Frost Seeding

Victor Shelton, NRCS State Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

It is 45 degrees outside today as I write this article. I normally appreciate mild winter weather, but when it rains, and temperatures remain above freezing, except for a frivolous teasing of heavy frosts, a pasture can get pretty ugly. I for one wouldn’t mind a little free concrete right now, you know, frozen ground. For many of us, 2018 was an extremely wet year. Some parts of Indiana, including where I live ended up with over 60 inches of rain. That makes me think of a Clint Eastwood quote, “If you think it’s going to rain, it will.”

Strip grazing stockpiled forage is usually a delight. Of course, it is best accomplished under dry or frozen conditions. If the pasture of stockpile is heavy (at least 3,000 pounds of dry matter per acre), then it can often be grazed even under fairly wet conditions without too much long-term damage but, you will need to have a watchful eye. Continue reading

Buying Rams, What are You Really Getting?

Rodney Kott, Extension Sheep Specialist, Montana State University
(Previously published on the Montana State University Animal and Range Sciences Extension Service page)

For those of you with lambs in the barn, are you happy with your lamb crop so far? Did you happen to use a new breeding ram this year? If so, what type of selection criteria did you use to select this ram? As we begin to think about the next breeding season, Rodney Kott provides us with some food for thought to use in selecting our next breeding ram.

Buying rams… Are we really getting what we see, or are we just getting a new coat of paint?

Commercial sheep producers sell their grass and labor in the form of lamb and wool. The value of saleable product produced on a given land area is a function of the quantity and quality of lamb and wool. Production efficiency and ewe profitability can be maximized by Continue reading

Southeast Ohio Lambing and Kidding Workshop

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

Arguably, one of the most stressful time periods during the small ruminant production cycle is the preparation and care of newborn lambs and kids. As much as we would like for the lambing and kidding process to go off without a hitch, there is always the chance that you may have to intervene. Thankfully for producers, we have a team of experienced OSU extension educators that can provide helpful tips to make your lambing and kidding season a success.

On Monday, March 25, 2019 from 6 pm – 9 pm, producers will have the opportunity to tour a pasture based sheep operation in conjunction with a series of talks outlining how to prepare and manage your flock and herd for lambing and kidding season. To begin the event Continue reading

Cold Water, Cold Livestock

Heather Hamilton, editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup
Article compiled from Journal of Animal Science articles from K-State and the University of Missouri
(Previously published on the Wyoming Livestock Roundup)

Although Ohio and Wyoming weather conditions may differ, this weekends cold spell put shepherds to the test as lambs continued to hit the ground. Ensuring that our small ruminants have an ample supply of fresh water is on every producers check list, but monitoring water temperature may not be. Water temperature may play a bigger role than you thought before. To learn more, be sure to read on below!

It’s cold during Wyoming winters and producers utilize many production practices to reduce weather impacts on livestock. Providing warm water to livestock during cold months is an option that can increase water intake and reduce energy needs. Continue reading

Caseous Lymphadenitis (CL) in Sheep and Goats

Dr. Maria Leite-Browning, DVM, Extension Animal Scientist, Alabama A&M University
(Previously published as a Fact Sheet with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System)

Introduction
Caseous Lymphadenitis (CL) is a chronically infectious disease of sheep and goats that is caused by the bacterium Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis. Prevalent on all continents throughout the world, CL causes ulcerative lymphadenitis in horses and superficial abscesses in bovines, swine, rabbits, deer, laboratory animals, and humans. This zoonotic disease (a disease transmitted from animals to humans) is usually underestimated because CL is not a reportable disease in many countries, including the United States.

Some economic losses due to CL are Continue reading

2019 Seeds For Success Small Farm Conference

Garth Ruff, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Henry County

The 2019 North West Ohio Seeds For Success Small Farm Conference will be held on Saturday, March 16, 2019 at Northwest State Community College, located at 22600 State Route 34, Archbold Ohio.  The conference provides education and topics of interest for small farm and rural landowners. Participants will walk away from the conference with knowledge and ideas of how to improve existing enterprises or marketing opportunities. For those who have some acreage but don’t yet know what to do with it, the conference is an opportunity to consider possibilities, gather information, and make contacts.

The 2019 North West Ohio Seeds For Success Small Farm Conference offers 24 different breakout sessions divided between five different track topics; Continue reading

Raising Lambs and Kids Artificially

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

(Image Source: Biotic Industries)

One of the outcomes of having a high lambing/kidding percentage (greater than 200%) is that you may end up with some lambs/kids that you have to raise artificially. While some ewes/does will be able to raise triplets (even quads), sometimes it may be necessary (or wise) to remove lambs/kids from large litters in order to obtain more satisfactory weight gains.

There are different opinions as to which offspring should be removed for artificial rearing. Traditionally, it was recommended that Continue reading

Can Restricting Feed Intake Benefit your Lamb Feeding Program?

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

With lambing season upon us, many are concentrated on getting lambs on the ground and getting them off to a good start. Although this is an extremely important step in the continual management of your flock, we must also be thinking one-step ahead. By this I mean, what will be your feeding strategy after your lambs are weaned a few months from now. Some producers may decide to sell their lambs as feeders directly after weaning, but for those that decide to retain their lambs and feed them out, how will your lambs be fed? What will your diet be composed of and will you be providing the diet at ad-libitum or at a restricted intake? Thinking about this, have you ever considered how the feeding strategy you choose could affect the feed efficiency and performance of your growing lambs? If you haven’t, no worries. Thankfully, Murphy and others (1994) did just this to Continue reading

2019 Northwest Ohio Sheep and Goat Series

Eric Richer, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Fulton County

OSU Extension to Host Sheep & Goat Series in February

The Ohio State University Extension-Fulton County will be offering a two-night Small Ruminants 101 Series at the Robert Fulton Ag Center, 8770 St. Rt. 108 in Wauseon. The series is intended to cover the basics of small ruminant (sheep & goat) production and marketing for new, current, and interested producers. The program runs from 5:30 pm – 8:30 pm each night. Continue reading

Feeding Fat to Pregnant Ewes

Dr. Ale Relling, Assistant Professor, Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University

Should we feed fats to pregnant ewes?

This question is being posed in order to summarize what was presented on December 1, 2018 at the Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium on feeding fats to pregnant ewes. Before I enter into the details of the results and economic implications, I would like to clarify two things. First, we must consider ruminant physiology and applicability, noting that the sources of fats/lipids used are commercially available products. Second, the goal of all studies were not to improve or change ewe physiology, but to evaluate the effect of feeding fats during gestation and the impact that they had on the offspring. Continue reading

Foot Rot and Scald

Michael Metzger, Michigan State University Extension Educator
(Previously published on MSU Extension, Sheep & Goat: December 21, 2018)

Foot rot and foot scald in goats and sheep.

Foot rot and foot scald are contagious diseases of the hooves in goats and sheep.

According to Michigan State University Extension Educator Mike Metzger, a cool wet fall can increase foot scald and foot rot in small ruminants. Foot scald and foot rot are costly diseases in the sheep and goat industries. Producers lose significant time and money every year attempting to control it in their flock or herd. If foot rot and/or foot scald becomes a problem on your farm it takes a lot effort and labor to control symptoms and eliminate it. However these conditions are preventable with good management. Continue reading

2019 Wool Judge Workshop

Tim Barnes, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Marion County

The Wool Judge Workshop II will be held Saturday, March 9, 2019 at the Animal Science Building at 2029 Fyffe Rd. located at the Ohio State University Columbus campus.

This training workshop has been developed to assist sheep judges in their evaluation of fleece quality within the wool breeds of sheep. The following topics will be presented at the workshop: Continue reading

Winter Feeding of Small Ruminants

Dr. Chelsey Ahrens, Specialty Livestock/Youth Education Specialist, Arkansas Extension
(Previously published as a fact sheet with the Division of Agriculture, Research & Extension, University of Arkansas)

Winter Feeding of Sheep and Goats: General Rules of Thumb for Gestating and Lactating Females

Knowing the nutritional requirements of females during the various stages of production allows producers to ensure females are performing at optimal levels. Since females are typically in late gestation and/or lactating during the winter months, when their nutritional needs are the highest, it is even more important to ensure the females are obtaining the proper roughages and/or grains in their diets. Below are Continue reading

Taking a Measured Approach to Lamb Production

Gail Keck
(Previously published in Ohio Farmer: December 20, 2018)

(Image Source: Ohio Farmer)

The first step in DNA analysis is linking a gene with performance characteristics.

Old photos on the office wall at Bunker Hill Farm show the Shultz family’s history of success in breeding and showing high-quality sheep. For most of the farm’s history, visual appraisals guided selection and breeding programs, but these days Bill Shultz and his wife, Susan, would rather rely on estimated breeding values (EBVs). Visual appraisals are still useful to spot lambs with disqualifying defects, but looks can be deceiving when evaluating growth rates, fat thickness, and Continue reading

Keeping Newborn Lambs Fed and Warm

Jeff Held, South Dakota State University Sheep Extension Specialist
(Previously published on iGrow, a service of SDSU Extension)

Newborn Lamb Care Management.

Proper newborn lamb care is a critical component of flock profitability. In the U.S., lamb mortality from all causes is approximately 20% with more than 80% of those losses occurring in the first two-weeks following lambing. Yet a solid lamb care management plan coupled with a few key tools in the lambing barn can sharply improve the number of lambs reared per-ewe. Generally, the top causes for newborn lamb losses are starvation, hypothermia (cold stress), respiratory disease, and scours followed by injury. Theoretically, these categories each stand alone, however the reality is often two-or-three of these occur simultaneously. Producers that develop a lambing time-management plan to incorporate appropriate lambing tools and gain key skills on newborn lamb care will benefit from less labor input and expense with a greater number of lambs weaned. Continue reading

Colostrum is Key

Michael Metzger, Michigan State University Extension Educator
(Previously published on MSU Extension, Sheep & Goat: February 12,2013)

(Image Source: Premier1Supplies)

Colostrum is the key to raising healthy goat kids and lambs.

Ensuring goat kids and lambs get enough colostrum at birth is imperative to getting them off to a good start.

One of the most important functions of colostrum (first milk) is to provide kids and lambs with antibodies (immunoglobulins) that provide passive immunity for the first two months of life. Newborn lambs and kids, like other mammals, are born with no antibodies of their own and rely on those provided by the mother in colostrum for protection.

Protection provided by Continue reading

Creep Feeding Primer

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

(Image Source: Susan Schoenian, Maryland Small Ruminant Page)

Creep feeding is a means of providing supplemental nutrition to nursing lambs and kids. It is accomplished by giving lambs and kids access to extra feed or better pasture, while excluding their dams.

Lambs and kids that are born in the winter months are often creep fed, since pasture is usually not readily available. Show animals are typically creep fed, in order to get them bigger for show.

Creep feeding is recommended for accelerated lambing and kidding programs, in flocks and herds where there are a lot of multiple births, and anytime milk production is a limiting factor. Artificially-reared lambs and kids should be creep fed to facilitate early weaning. Creep feeding is also advisable when Continue reading

Cull Ewe Checklist

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

On my way into the office last week, the radio broadcaster made the comment that we are experiencing January like temperatures here in December and I’d have to say that I couldn’t agree more. With this comment, I started to think about how shepherds are managing their flocks with the recent fluctuations in temperature coupled with a shortage of pasture and quality hay. I image that many are turning to feeding concentrate diets, which certainly isn’t a problem, but can become costly when feeding potential cull ewes.

A cull ewe is a female within the flock that is no longer benefiting your operation. This ewe may have failed to become pregnant (open) or has some other underlying issues that are not allowing her to perform to her greatest potential. With Continue reading

Listeriosis Control and Prevention

Michael Metzger, Michigan State University Extension Educator
(Previously published on MSU Extension, Sheep & Goat: November 28,2018)

Listeriosis is a disease that can affect all ruminants, as well as other animal species and humans.

Listeriosis is an important infectious disease of sheep and goats. It most commonly causes encephalitis but is also capable of causing blood infections and abortion.

Listeriosis is caused by the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes and is commonly seen in cooler climates. These bacteria can be found in the soil, food sources and even the feces of healthy animals. Most commonly, this disease of sheep and goats is observed as a result of feeding moldy or spoiled hay or silage. It’s possible for sheep and goats to become infected without feeding moldy or spoiled hay or silage, as it is also found in the environment. The bacteria are very hardy and are common in soil.

Possible locations of Listeria monocytogenes bacteria: Continue reading

Pregnancy Toxemia (a.k.a. Ketosis)

Dr. Susan Kerr, WSU NW Regional Livestock and Dairy Extension Specialist
(Previously published on Oregon State University Small Farms page)

Pregnancy Ketosis

New producers of small ruminants often learn about pregnancy ketosis first time the hard way—with a dead dam, fetuses or both. This article explains the causes of pregnancy ketosis (a.k.a. toxemia) and more importantly—how to prevent it.

This ewe had milk fever, but advanced pregnancy ketosis would present similarly: a down and depressed animal with poor appetite. Lack of complete recovery after calcium treatment and results of ketone tests would help differentiate these two conditions. Also, milk fever usually occurs after lambing and pregnancy ketosis before. Photo courtesy Susan Schoenian, University of Maryland Extension.

(Image Source: Oregon State University Small Farms page)

Sheep and goat fetuses add 70% of their final birth weight in the last six to eight weeks of gestation. A singleton increases a dam’s nutritional requirements by 1.5 to 2 times maintenance in the last trimester. Multiple fetuses greatly increase energy demands on their mother: twins require 1.75 to 2.5 times maintenance requirements and triplets demand up to 3 times maintenance. Twins and triplets are common in some breeds of sheep and goats; quadruplets and even more are not uncommon in Boer goats, Finnsheep and Romanov sheep. Continue reading

2019 Lambing & Kidding School

Tim Barnes, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Marion County

A Lambing & Kidding School will be held Saturday, January 12, 2019 from 10:00a.m. to 3:00p.m. at the Jeff Criswell Farm at 2965 Keener Rd Marion, Ohio. This is a biennial event that was started in 2017 for sheep producers, but was expanded to include goats for 2019.

Speakers will include Dr. Michelle “Mitch” Michalak, co-owner of Maria Stein Animal Clinic. Dr. Mitch has experience raising Angora goats and Shropshire sheep. She will provide insight for Continue reading

Recap: 2018 Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

Dr. Ale Relling Presenting on fatty acid supplementation

During this past weekend, shepherds from Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia gathered for the annual Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium sponsored by the Ohio Sheep Improvement Association (OSIA). This years program theme was ‘Improving profitability of the sheep operation.’ Per usual, the event took place at the Shisler Conference Center at the Ohio Agriculture and Development Center (OARDC) in Wooster, Ohio.

To kick off the event, Dr. Woody Lane of Roseburg, Oregon was the sole speaker of the Shepherd’s college on Friday, November 30th. Dr. Lane covered an array of topics including management intensive grazing (MIG), utilization of grazing tools, and producer study groups. Dr. Lane first focused on the basics of animal grazing. Some important reminders such as Continue reading

Infectious Causes of Abortion in Ewes

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

There are many things than can disrupt a healthy pregnancy in a ewe. While it is common for about 25% of embryos to die or be reabsorbed the first three weeks of pregnancy up to the time of implantation, these are the most crucial in establishing healthy pregnancies. The nutritional requirements of ewes during early gestation is only slightly more than maintenance requirements, but it is essential that the flock not be exposed to any undue stresses.

It appears normal for about 1.5 to 2.0% (up to 5%) of the ewes in a flock to abort. Abortion rates significantly above this level cut into profit potentials, as what may start out as a few isolated cases can quickly escalate into an abortion “storm,” resulting in 20-30% percent abortions or as high as 80% lamb mortality. Continue reading

Preparing for Winter

Michael Metzger, Michigan State University Extension Educator
(Previously Published on the Michigan State University Extension page: November 15, 2017)

Preparing goats and sheep for winter weather.

Most goats and sheep spend most of their time outside, but livestock that live outside may need special care when the winter weather sets in.

All animals need some kind of shelter even if it is only a windbreak. They need a place where they can get out of the wind. Shelter can include a building, a three-sided shed or even just a tree line. Ideally, goats and sheep should have access to some type of free choice shelter with a roof so they can get in out of the rain and snow. Continue reading