Feeding Wet Forages: Considerations for Sheep

During the 2020 Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium, OSU’s new Extension Beef Cattle Field Specialist- Garth Ruff, presented on the topic of feeding wet forages to sheep. Although his current role emphasizes beef systems, Garth has a background in both forage and sheep production. He and his family have first-hand experience in feeding wet forages to their sheep throughout the winter months. Garth reviews the necessary methods for harvesting and preserving wet forages, along with how to safely provide these feeds to small ruminants. With hay harvest right around the corner, now is the time to start considering the use of wet wrapped forages in your operation!

Taking Charge of Baled Silage

Jessica Williamson, Hay and Forage Specialist, AGCO
(Previously published in Progressive Forage: April 2, 2021)

Baled silage, or baleage, is a highly nutritious livestock feed and can help producers better manage their harvest window and harvest their crop at its optimum quality.

Baleage is forage harvested at a higher moisture than dry hay, which is then wrapped in polyurethane plastic to eliminate oxygen so that anaerobic fermentation takes place. This phase converts available sugars to acids, preserving the forage and improving the nutritional value and palatability of the crop.

Silage bales beat dry hay
Silage bales have advantages over dry hay, but best management practices are in order.

First, bale silage at a higher moisture level than dry hay. This accomplishes two goals: Continue reading

Poisonous Plants to Livestock

J.M. Luginbuhl, Extension Specialist (Goats and Forage Systems), North Carolina State University
(Previously published online with NC State Extension: September 17, 2020)

As winter feed supplies run low and with producers eager to turn livestock out to pasture this spring, do yourself and your stock a favor by scouting for poisonous plants in your pasture this spring.

Factors contributing to plant poisoning are starvation, accidental eating, and browsing habits of animals. Starvation is the most common reason. Most woodland or swampy-ground pastures contain many species of poisonous plants. These are usually eaten only when animals have nothing else to eat.

Animals accidentally eat certain plants as they graze. A notable example of this is water hemlock. This plant emerges in wet areas, which are the first to become green in early spring. Animals eager to eat Continue reading

7 Ways to Maximize Manure as Fertilizer

Tom Bechman, Editor, Indiana Prairie Farmer
(Previously published in Indiana Prairie Farmer: April 6, 2021)

Corn Illustrated: Timing of applications and management of manure are important factors.

Big livestock operations produce lots of manure. In fact, some producers sell it to neighbors. More people are recognizing the value of manure in high-yield corn production systems.

If you want to get the most value from manure, Jim Camberato suggests understanding the basics of manure management and applying common sense. “It can be a good source of nutrients, but you need to handle it correctly and account for application timing and method, among other things,” says Camberato, a Purdue University Extension soil fertility specialist.

Camberato shared basic manure management guidelines virtually with Indiana Certified Crop Advisers recently. Here are seven tips based upon his suggestions. Continue reading

Contagious Keratoconjunctivitis (Pinkeye)

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

(Image Source: Susan Schoenian, University of Maryland)

With sheep sale season here and fly season near, so is the potential for pinkeye. Join Susan Schoenian this week from the University of Maryland as she discusses the symptoms and preventative measures that can be taken to keep this issue at bay in your operation.

Pink eye is the lay term used to describe any number of diseases affecting the eye(s) of animals. The more proper name is infectious keratoconjunctivitis. Webster’s Dictionary defines keratoconjunctivitis as “a combined inflammation of the cornea and conjunctiva.”

Pink eye is an infectious and contagious bacterial disease of sheep, goats, and other animals. Though most common in the summer and in young animals, it may occur at any time of the year and in sheep and goats of any age. It occurs in all sheep and goat-raising areas of the world, though the primary causative organisms may vary.

Pink eye is caused by Continue reading

Feed Processing, Digestive Upset, and Observations During Feeding

During the 2020 Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium, Dr. Francis Fluharty from the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at the University of Georgia and Emeritus Professor in the Department of Animal Sciences at The Ohio State University addressed how to manage your feeding regimen, including feed processing, digestive upset, and observing animal behavior. Dr. Fluharty further discusses which feed sources should to be processed and those that don’t. With the price of corn and hay in the market today, trust me, this 30 minute discussion will be well worth your time. Let the spring feeding begin!

Selecting Forages for Your New Seeding

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Noble County

The spring seeding window for the most popular forages in our region is quickly approaching. Producers looking for guidance on how to choose the best forage for their system should always start with a soil test rather than a seed catalog. Whether you have farmed your site for decades or days, soil testing is essential for success.

Once you know the characteristics of your soil, you can formulate a timeline to adjust fertility if needed, sow your selected seed, and set realistic expectations for production. Soil testing should be conducted when site history is unknown, when converting from a different cropping system (row crops, woodlands, turfgrass, etc.), or on a three-year schedule for maintenance.

Additional factors worthy of consideration prior to purchasing seed include Continue reading

Nutrition and Feeding Systems for Lamb Finishing

Christoph Wand – Beef Cattle, Sheep and Goat Nutritionist/OMAF
(Previously published on Ontario, Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs: August, 2014)

The purpose of market lamb feeding is to cost-effectively produce a product of marketable quality and quantity. Keeping this objective in mind will help you make good business and animal management decisions.

The rumen, the largest of the four stomach compartments in ruminant animals, is a fermentation organ, not an acidic stomach. This means digestion depends on the microbes that live inside the rumen. Maintaining the health of this environment is therefore critically important when you are finishing lambs.

Nutrients
Sheep and lambs need several nutrients and nutrient classes for optimum growth. They are listed below in order of importance. Continue reading

The Use of Wool in Compost and other Alternative Applications

Dr. Cate Williams, Institute of Biological, Environmental & Rural Sciences (IBERS), Aberystwyth University
(Previously published by Business Wales.gov: July 23, 2020)

(Image Source: Wind Valley Farms)

How many of you still have wool on hand from last years wool clip? Have you decided when, where, and how you will sell it if at all? For those that are unsure, perhaps you could consider implementing a few of these alternative applications that would greatly benefit your operation this year and for many more to come.

  • Sheep’s wool offers many benefits when used in a mixture as compost or mulch: as a source of slow-release nitrogen and other trace elements, in weed and pest control, moisture retention and temperature regulation.
  • Wool may be used as a sustainable, renewable, and environmentally friendly alternative to peat.
  • Other alternative uses include in thermal and noise insulation, particularly in the construction of new “eco-houses”.
  • Further research is needed to establish optimum composting strategies and mixtures as well as how to upscale the process.

As the market for wool declines, producers may be looking for alternative ways to make use of their fleeces, particularly

Continue reading

2021 Small Ruminant Webinar Series: Lamb Market Update Spring 2021

In Webinar #3 of the 2021 OSU Small Ruminant Webinar Series, Tim Barnes – OSU Extension ANR Educator in Marion County, gives viewers an overview of the 2021 spring lamb market. 

Thank you all for joining us for the 2021 OSU Small Ruminant Webinar Series! If you have any comments on how we can improve or ideas for future webinars, please contact Brady Campbell at campbell.1279@osu.edu or Christine Gelley at gelley.2@osu.edu

Pre-Breeding Management of Rams and Ewes

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

Important notes for both spring and fall breeding!

The pre-breeding period is defined as the 8-10 week period prior to the first day that rams are turned out with the ewes. Although it is traditionally a relatively quiet period for the sheep producer, the pre-breeding period involves multiple physiologic processes in the ram and ewe that can significantly impact fertility during breeding season, and therefore can subsequently impact the size and uniformity of the lamb flock. During this period of time, the sheep producer can conduct a few fairly simple management practices to ensure that the ram and ewe flock are in optimal physical condition for breeding.

Pre-Breeding Evaluation of the Ram Flock
Creation of sperm in rams requires approximately Continue reading