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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

Help Lambs Beat the Winter Chill

Written by the Milk Products team, Chilton, Wisconsin
(Previously published in Morning Ag Clips: November 5, 2018)

(Image Source: Premier 1 Supplies)

With winter here and lambing season near, below are a few quick tips on how to keep your lambs warm and healthy this winter.

Keep lambs growing in cold weather by managing environment, nutrition, and health.

As the temperature drops and snow starts falling, it is time to start thinking differently about how we care for lambs. For sheep raisers in cold climates, winter is a time to take special precautions to ensure lambs grow healthy and strong.

“Despite the lamb’s built-in wool blanket, winter can be Continue reading

Hay Quality Concerns: Trash vs. Treasure

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Noble County

That saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” usually does not apply to hay, but with as difficult as haymaking was in Ohio this year, it may be true.

The “man” mentioned could be yourself in 2017 versus yourself in 2018. Based on what is available this year, you may be inclined to lower your standards of hay quality to make it through the winter.

But, how low is too low when it comes to hay quality? The answer depends on your class of livestock, their nutritional needs, and your access to supplemental feed.

Without knowing the actual nutritive value of the hay, all recommendations are relative and subject to error. The only way to confidently adjust your feeding program in relation to hay quality is to have hay analyzed by a laboratory. Continue reading

Hay Buying Help and Preparation for Next Year

Garth Ruff, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Henry County

With last week’s rain showers leaving much of the area saturated, there were limited opportunities for farming or even yardwork. I took advantage of the soggy conditions here in NW Ohio and headed south on Friday to a fairly productive couple of days in Morgan County. We had a good chance to winterize and store all of the hay equipment and tractors that we typically don’t use during winter time.

Regarding hay implement storage, we make an effort blow off the chaff, seeds, and dust with a leaf blower shortly after use and then pressure wash the piece prior to pulling in to the machinery shed for the down season. Once everything is cleaned off, each machine is greased and gear boxes are checked for fluid levels. Any major repairs or maintenance such as Continue reading

Rabies in Livestock

Dr. Tim McDermott, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Franklin County
(Previously Published in Farm and Dairy: November 15, 2018)

Many diseases can affect animals on pasture. The most difficult ones to stay aware of are the diseases that are uncommon, where the producer or livestock may never encounter the disease. Many diseases that affect livestock have presentation forms that can mimic multiple other diseases that are more common, leading to a delay in veterinary care or producer awareness. One disease that can affect livestock that fits this description, but should stay firmly in a producer’s awareness is rabies.

Rabies is an ancient disease caused by a virus. The Latin translation of rabies means, “To rave or rage”. The virus spreads in its host in an unusual way compared to how most people think of viral spread. While many viruses spread through the bloodstream, enter via the respiratory tract or digestive tract by ingestion, rabies is a neurotropic virus, meaning it spread along the nerves in the nervous system. After an infected host bites 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 lambing season right around the corner, shepherds need to start preparing now. In this weeks Ag-note, OSU students Kelvin Moore, Sade Payne, and Elizabeth Spahr highlight the importance of a sound vaccination program using the CDT vaccine.

The CDT vaccine is yet another management tool found in the shepherd’s toolbox that is used to protect small ruminants against clostridium perfringens types C and D as well as clostridium tetani (tetanus). Appropriate use of this vaccine is a safe, cheap, and an effective method used to control for clostridial diseases in your flock. Continue reading

Ohio Weather – Manage Forages Accordingly

Victor Shelton, NRCS State Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

Make plans for how to adapt for changes in weather.

I mentioned last month that there are still plenty of good growing days left this fall and they need to be taken advantage of. One of the first things to do to make sure you obtain as much plant growth as possible, especially with perennial forages, is to stop grazing forages that will continue to grow for a while, especially forages that will stockpile like tall fescue. Now, I don’t think anyone would’ve predicted it would be almost 70 degrees the day before Halloween. I remember quite well going Trick-or-Treating as a kid with snow on the ground a few times. It’s not the same weather pattern these days, that’s for sure.

Whether you believe in global warming or not is a deeper subject than I really want to get into in one of these articles, but it’s not hard to see though that Continue reading

Winter Ewe Management Tips

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

Last week, Scott shared his thoughts on how to manage the ewe flock during mid to late gestation. Join us this week as Scott provides some helpful tips to think about as many approach pre and post lambing here in Ohio.

Lambing season is fast approaching. Management of the flock around lambing time is critical to ensure a health, vigorous lamb crop. The following are some important considerations as lambing season commences:

4-6 Weeks Before Lambing
Continue reading

Southeast Ohio Sheep & Goat School Finale

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Noble County

Last Tuesday, Ohioans gathered at the polls to cast their votes for the November 2018 election. That same evening, a group of thirty Ohioans gathered at the Eastern Agricultural Research Station in Belle Valley for the sixth and final class of the 2018 Southeast Ohio Sheep and Goat School series.

While most people were watching television to see election results, these folks were watching The Ohio State University Meat Science Professor, Dr. Lyda G. Garcia, share insights on carcass evaluation followed by the breakdown of both a lamb and goat carcass from primal, to sub-primal, and retail cuts. Continue reading

Grazing Damaged Corn and Corn Residue

Dr. Jeff McCutcheon, OSU Extension Educator, Southeast Regional Director

Pulling this article from our achieves this week, it seems to be extremely timely and beneficial as mother nature has made it challenging to harvest crops this fall in a timely manner. As we progress later into the harvest season, stalk quality will decrease which could lead to more down corn in our fields. From a cropping standpoint, this is an issue as some of the downed crop may not be salvageable. Luckily not all is lost if we are able to incorporate a strategic grazing plan.

To survive the current feed economy livestock producers need to graze their livestock as long as they can.  Every day livestock are meeting their nutritional needs through grazing they are being fed as economically as possible.  Typically cattle producers utilize corn and corn residue as a feed source but, in Ohio, sheep producers need to consider grazing Continue reading

Livestock Building Rental Considerations

Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Wayne County

Recently I have received some questions about rental of livestock buildings, specifically dairy facilities. Typically, callers want to know a charge per square foot or a rental rate based on a per head basis or, for a dairy facility, based on number of free stalls. The reality is that there is no one right or correct answer. There are some basic methods or approaches that generate a dollar figure. However, view that number as a starting point in a rental negotiation. There are additional factors that affect the final rental rate. Those factors include the age and condition of the building, location of the building, the functionality or obsolescence of the building, the demand for rental of this type of building and the character and personality of the parties involved in the rental agreement. Continue reading

Ewe Management Tips: Mid and Late Gestation

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

Some important topics to consider with the beginning of lambing season just around the corner.

Proper management and nutrition of the ewe flock during mid and early lactation are critical for optimizing flock productivity and profitability. Balanced nutrition, coupled with proper management during gestation is important for fetal development, lamb vigor and survival at birth. Additionally, proper nutrition during gestation is important to prevent nutritional disorders which may impact the health and performance of the ewe and her lambs, and influences milk production of the ewe.

There are several factors that affect the nutritional needs of the ewe during gestation, with primary considerations for: Continue reading

2018 Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium Programing

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

The annual Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium, organized by the Ohio Sheep Improvement Association (OSIA), is fast approaching as it will be held on November 30 and December 1 at the OARDC Shisler Conference Center in Wooster, Ohio. This event not only serves as the OSIA annual meeting, but also gives producers an opportunity to interact with one another and participate in educational programming that is designed to assist producers by increasing production efficiencies.  Continue reading

Livestock Winter Hay Needs

Dr. Susan Kerr, Washington State University, Northwest Regional Livestock and Dairy Extension Specialist
(Previously published on the Oregon State University Small Farms Page)

Livestock producers can often realize feed cost savings by purchasing their entire winter hay supply at one time. Obtaining an entire feeding season supply from a new hay crop certainly beats underestimating needs and having to cobble together purchases of more hay in late winter, when demand may outstrip supply and quality may be variable. There are four critical aspects of large hay purchases: knowledge of how much to purchase, adequate storage capacity, ability to work with the hay producer’s schedule and capital to make the purchase.

A few simple calculations can help livestock producers estimate how much hay they will need to get them through the winter. Estimates are based on Continue reading

Beware of Frost-damaged Forages

Sandy Smith, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Carroll County
(Previously published in Farm and Dairy: October 25, 2018)

Last week, we experienced our first frosts of the season in some areas of Ohio, but I don’t think anyone has experienced the real killing frost yet.

When some forages freeze, changes in their metabolism and composition can be toxic to ruminant livestock. The two problems that can occur are prussic acid (hydrogen cyanide) poisoning and bloat.

Beware of poison

First, I want to write about prussic acid or cyanide poisoning. Sorghum-related plants such as grain sorghum, sorghum-Sudan grass and Sudan grass varieties can contain toxic levels of cyanide after a frost. Johnsongrass, black cherry and elderberry can also develop toxic levels of prussic acid after a killing frost.

Light frost can stress plants, but do not kill them entirely can also cause cyanide poisoning. Continue reading

Risks of Nitrate Poisoning in Pastures

Mark Johns and Barry Yaremcio, Ag – Info Centre, Alberta Agriculture & Rural Development
(Previously published on Alberta.ca – Agriculture and Forestry: February 26, 2018)

This past weekend I had a question from a sheep producer asking why he was loosing several ewes unexpectedly. Further into the conversation, he also mentioned that he figures on losing a dozen ewes during this time (fall) each year. My response to this was “has there been any instances of frost over the course of time that you have been loosing ewes and what types of forages are in your pastures?” Of course without visually seeing these animals and not having any lab work or even a field necropsy performed, it is hard to say what the exact cause of each case may have been. However, as we begin to move into colder temperatures with periods of frost and with producers potentially spreading manure prior to the winter months, it is important consider how these scenarios can affect plant species in your pastures. With this being said, the scenario listed above could have been the result of nitrate poisoning. To learn more about this issue with grazing livestock, check out this Q&A session provided by Mark Johns and Barry Yatemcio.

How does nitrate get into the forage?
Continue reading

Ewe Winter Feeding Systems, the Long Term Effects on Lamb Performance

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

As we approach the winter months, I find it timely to discuss what types of feedstuffs are available to feed gestating ewes. Last fall I published a summary from Radunz and others (2011) that covered the effects of winter feeding systems on ewe performance which can be found by clicking this link. For those not able to access the link, three different diets were fed to gestating ewes during the last 90 days of gestation which consisted of either forage (haylage), grain (limit fed corn), or by-products (limit fed dried distillers grains). After birth, all ewes were fed the same lactation diet.

From an economic perspective, feeding by-products proved to be roughly $0.01/head/day cheaper than Continue reading

White Muscle Disease in Small Ruminants

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

White muscle disease in sheep and goats.

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

Stiff lamb disease – nutritional muscular dystrophy.

What is it?
White muscle disease (WMD) is a degenerative muscle disease found in all large animals. WMD is caused by a deficiency of selenium and/or vitamin E. Generally, it is not known which. Selenium (Se) deficiency is associated with selenium deficient soils and the inadequate uptake of selenium by forages grown on these soils. Certain areas of the U.S., including the Northeast, are considered low in selenium levels. Selenium deficiency occurs when the soil contains less than 0.5 mg Se/kg of soil and locally harvested feeds contain less than 0.1 mg Se/kg of feed. Continue reading

Now is a Great Time to Manage Fescue

Chris Penrose, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Morgan County

If fescue is a problem on your farm, now is a great time to get it under control. I think it is good to start off talking about why it is a problem, how did it get to be a problem, are there some redeeming qualities, and finally, how to get it under control if it is a problem.

Why it is a problem?

If you have “infected” fescue, animals may develop health problems and result in reduced performance. This is caused by a microscopic fungus (endophyte) in the plant that produces alkaloids and problems for animals. Horses can have prolonged pregnancies, little milk production, abortions, and other problems. Ruminants can have hoof loss, increases body temperatures, rough hair coats or fleeces, and other internal issues. Continue reading

Breeding for Out-of-season Lambs to Fill in the Industry Gaps

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

A few months ago as a part of the ‘Let’s Grow’ initiative sponsored by the American Sheep Industry Association, Dr. Reid Redden, Sheep and Goat Specialist with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, presented a webinar focusing on the seasonality of the US lamb industry. This webinar was an overview of the recently published industry white paper that can be viewed fully by viewing this link. During his presentation, Dr. Redden covered both Traditional and Non-traditional markets that US producers have access to. He also presented several figures that outlined the time of year that lamb is most commonly consumed as well as when each specific cut of lamb is consumed. Rather than focusing on these highlights from Dr. Redden’s presentation, toady we will be focusing in on the production aspects of aseasonal or out-of-season breeding.

According to a 2011 USDA report, approximately 85% of all US lamb is produced Continue reading

Save Money, Use Livestock to Harvest Hay

Mark Landefeld, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Noble County
(Previously published in Farm and Dairy: October 3, 2018)

As we move into the fall season, how much longer will your livestock be able to graze forage from your hay and pasture fields? Have you prepared stockpiled forages?

Are you able to utilize your livestock to take that last growth of forage off your hay fields rather than using equipment? Not using equipment to make a last cutting of hay, not having the livestock in pasture fields right now and not feeding hay for a while yet seems to be a winning combination all the way around.

Everyone’s situation is different and many producers are not able to get livestock to every hay field. Nevertheless, where you can use livestock to harvest forage from hay fields, production costs can be reduced. Continue reading

Feeding Strategies to Increase Lamb Performance, Carcass Characteristics, and Consumer Acceptability

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

For most producers, maintaining high standards
of animal welfare and increasing production efficiencies rank among the most important factors involved in livestock production. While focusing on production efficiencies, what can producers do in order to help make their livestock more efficient? We know that excess fat on the carcass of an animal is considered inefficient as excess fat will be trimmed off, disposed of during the fabrication process, and does not contribute to final lean yield. In the case of lamb, excess fat can be a challenge as fat is associated with flavor and in turn the overall acceptability of the product. In order to produce a product that is acceptable for consumers from both a flavor and palatability standpoint, producers have access to different management strategies that can be implemented in order to change the performance and carcass characteristics of fed lambs. In order to determine Continue reading

Chronic Copper Poisoning in Sheep

Dr. S. John Martin, Veterinary Scientist, Sheep, Goat, and Swine
(Previously published on the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs web page)

How does chronic copper poisoning (CCP) occur?
Sheep are the domestic animal most prone to CCP. They absorb copper from the diet in proportion to the amount of copper offered, not to the body’s need as with the absorption of other minerals. Any excess absorbed copper is stored in the cells of the liver, eventually reaching toxic levels. Levels in the liver above 500 ppm dry weight are usually considered toxic. This storage in the liver can take months or even years to reach a toxic level. The elimination of copper from the body through the kidneys is slow.

Even then, it needs a stress to release the copper. This stress can be weather, poor nutrition, transportation or handling. The liver cells rupture, releasing copper into the blood stream. There are suggestions that excess liver copper can Continue reading

Biennial and Perennial Weed Control is Best in the Fall

Dwight Lingenfelter, Extension Associate, Weed Science, Penn State University
William S. Curran,Ph.D., Emeritus Professor of Weed Science, Penn State University

Fall is an excellent time to manage biennial and perennial weeds. In particular, biennials such as common burdock, wild carrot, and bull, musk, and plumeless thistles are much easier to kill while they are in the rosette stage of growth, prior to surviving a winter. Once biennials start growth in the spring they rapidly develop with the goal of reproducing and it becomes more difficult to control them.

As you have heard many times before, late summer and fall is the best time to control most perennials with a systemic herbicide they move into root systems allowing better control. In general, the application window runs from Continue reading

When Should You Harvest Small-grain Forage?

James Isleib, Michigan State University Extension
(Previously published in The Stock Exchange News: September 24, 2018)

Decide what you need between yield and quality, then watch those small-grain forages closely to harvest them at the desired growth stage.

Farmers plant small-grain forages in two basic systems. One is as a nurse crop for a perennial hay crop such as alfalfa. A second is as a stand-alone annual forage crop. Harvest decisions depend largely on the system used. If the small-grain forage is a “nurse crop,” then the effects of the harvest decision are based on what is best for the perennial hay crop underneath. Leaving the nurse crop in place too long can create serious competition for the developing perennial hay crop.

Many farmers choose to remove Continue reading

Are Your Sheep Consuming Enough Calcium?

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

(Image Source: Ketcham’s Sheep Equipment)

Minerals are essential to support skeletal and nervous system functions. But, have you balanced your current mineral program lately with the forages and other feeds that your sheep are consuming?Top of Form

Most forages and a good quality mineral mix meet nutritional requirements of mature ewes. But, ewes will need additional mineral supplements, particularly during the last third of gestation.

The only way to truly evaluate a mineral program is to start with testing forages and other feeds consumed by the sheep. Assess nutrient levels using Continue reading

Using Cover Crops as Forages

Wyatt Miller, University of Missouri Extension Agronomy Specialist
(Previously published in Missouri Ruralist, September 25, 2018)

Planting cover crops for forage?

Answer these five questions first.

Not all farms are fit for planting cover crops for forage.

Forage and hay supply is low, and the problem is unlikely to be resolved this year even with favorable weather. While there are several options available, grazing or harvesting cover crops could be an alternative feed option for some producers.

If you have not planted cover crops, there are several factors to consider before selecting a forage cover crop: Continue reading

Ag-note: Niche Marketing – An Agriculture Alternative

Murphy Deutsch, Emily Starlin, Breanna Sharp, Eric Moore, OSU Animal Science Undergraduate Students
Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

Narrowed Niche Markets in the Ohio Lambing Industry: An Agricultural Alternative
**Follow the link above to view the Ag-note.

This weeks Ag-note comes from OSU students Murphy Deutsch, Emily Starlin, Breanna Sharp, and Eric Moore as they discuss a topic that is unique to the small ruminant industry, niche marketing. One of the greatest benefits that small ruminants producers have here in the state of Ohio is the endless opportunity to marketing their livestock products to several different consumers. Whether you are producing breeding stock, show lambs, wool and fiber, or meat products, you will certainly be able to find your niche.

Before we get into the details of these types of markets, first we must ask, “What exactly is niche marketing?” Niche marketing can be described as Continue reading

PEM or “Polio” in Small Ruminants

Richard Ehrhardt, Small Ruminant Extension Specialist, Michigan State University
(Previously published on the Michigan State University Sheep and Goat Extension Page)

(Image Sourece: MSU Extension, Sheep and Goats)

Understanding how to prevent and treat Polioencephalomalacia (PEM) in sheep and goats.

Polioencephalomalacia (PEM) is also known as cerebrocortical necrosis (CCN) and is a relatively common nutritional disorder in sheep and goats. A common name for this disease in sheep and goats is “polio”; however, it has absolutely no relationship with the infectious viral disease found in humans (poliomyelitis). Cases of PEM can be successfully treated if detected early in the disease course, making recognition of early symptoms a critical issue for sheep and goat producers.

Causes of PEM
The most common cause of PEM is Continue reading

Buying Hay the Smart Way

Kassidy Buse, Hay and Forage Grower summer editorial intern
(Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: September 18, 2018)

Purchasing hay, as simple as it seems, can be rather tricky. Knowing what and how much you need as well as trying to compare multiple feedstuffs on a level playing field can sometimes make hay buying a challenge.

“When hay supply is abundant, prices are lower and ranchers may not see the benefit in taking the time to price hay based on quality,” explains Adele Harty, extension cow/calf field specialist with South Dakota State University (SDSU), in an iGrow livestock newsletter. “Taking time to do this in a year with ample supply will help one be comfortable with the process when supplies are short.”

She provides the following four steps to Continue reading

Autumn Grazing Tips for Extending the Growing Season

Victor Shelton, NRCS State Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

The older I get, the more I tend to philosophize about things. I’ve been asked a few times why I am such an advocate for sound grazing practices. Best management grazing practices, just like conservation practices for reducing or preventing soil erosion on cropland, help preserve and or regenerate resources not only for present generation, but also for future generations. Keeping a field in forages will save more soil and conserve more water than almost all other erosion control practices. As the world population continues to increase and the acres of viable land that we can grow food on continues to decrease, we have to be more efficient and more productive with what remains while also maintaining and improving water quality. Food quality and nutrient density need to also improve. Continue reading

Ag-note: Benefits of Rotational Grazing

Matt Blose, Marissa Friel, Courtney Hale, Maureen Hirzel, OSU Animal Science Undergraduate Students
Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

Benefits of Rotational Grazing
** Follow the link above to view the Ag-note.

We are back at it again with our Ag-notes from the students of the 2018 Small Ruminant Production course. This week, students Matt Blose, Marissa Friel, Courtney Hale, and Maureen Hirzel provide us with a brief outline of the benefits of rotational grazing by providing insight on how to start and some important considerations you need to ask yourself prior to jumping into this type of management scheme.

In its simplest form, rotational grazing is described as moving grazing livestock from one paddock to another, allowing time for the previously grazed pasture to regrow prior to the next grazing event. There are many benefits to this strategy as rotational grazing allows producers to Continue reading

You can’t Manage what you don’t Measure!

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

Review your sheep records.

Record keeping is certainly not one of my favorite tasks related to raising sheep, but it certainly is necessary. In order to have a good handle on some of your production practices, you need to review your records on a regular basis. This includes not only financial records for filing taxes, but your production records for evaluating the sheep flock.

One of the most important indicators of profitability in a sheep operation is the lambing percentage. There are a couple figures to consider with the lambing percentage. First, start with the number of lambs produced compared to the number of ewes that lambed. Then, look at the number of live lambs at birth as well as the live lambs a month after lambing and the number of live lambs at weaning. Compare this to the number of ewes that lambed to calculate some percentages.

Set a goal to wean a Continue reading

Fencing. More than just a Couple of Posts and Wire

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Noble County

Neighborly fence care.

Fence care can make tempers flare between neighbors. Typically, when neighbors have similar goals, an agreeable strategy for fence maintenance can be worked out easily. When land use pursuits differ, there is a higher likelihood for conflict.

One of Ohio’s oldest rural laws is built around the care of partition fence. Ohio R.C. Chapter 971 defines a partition fence or “line fence” as a fence placed on the division line between two adjacent properties. In 2008, the law was updated to state “Partition fence includes a fence that has been considered a division line between two such properties even though a subsequent land survey indicates that the fence is not located directly on the division line.”

If both neighbors utilize the fence for similar purposes then the responsibilities are typically split evenly, which includes Continue reading

To Breed or Not to Breed

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

Breeding ewe lambs and doelings.

Should ewe lambs and doelings be bred to produce their first offspring when they are approximately one year of age? Or should you wait until they are yearlings to breed them for the first time? The answer depends. There are many factors to consider and there are pros and cons to each breeding decision.

Breeding ewe lambs and doe kids allows you to exploit their reproductive and genetic potential. It is well-documented that ewes that are mated as lambs will have a higher lifetime production than ewes that are mated for the first time as yearlings.

One of the most compelling reasons to consider breeding ewe lambs and doe kids is Continue reading

Late Season Alfalfa Management

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)

Late season alfalfa management decisions often come down to balancing a need for forage versus stand health and winter survival. Weather patterns across the state in 2018 have been variable. Lack of summer rain in some areas have decreased forage yields, frequent rains or too much rainfall in other areas have blown apart harvest schedules and/or resulted in low quality forage inventories. Taking a fall alfalfa harvest is an opportunity to increase both the quality and quantity of the farm forage inventory. Like most farming decisions, there are trade-offs and risk factors to consider when making a fall alfalfa harvest.

The decision of when to take the last harvest of alfalfa to insure good winter survival and yield potential for the following year can be boiled down to two choices. Either Continue reading

Don’t Miss this Fescue Opportunity

Kassidy Buse, Hay and Forage Grower summer editorial intern
(Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: September 4, 2018)

The cost of feed is the highest expense on any operation, specifically when winter feeding. Producers typically utilize hay to meet [livestock] nutritional requirements during the winter, but producing hay with a high enough forage quality to meet those needs proves to be a challenge.

Chris Teutsch, forage extension specialist at the University of Kentucky, argues that stockpiled tall fescue is an option that has a higher nutritional value to meet [some winter livestock] needs. He provides helpful steps to optimize stockpiled tall fescue in the Kentucky newsletter Off the Hoof.

“Choose a strong tall fescue sod in a field that is Continue reading

The Perfect Time to Renovate Your Pasture

Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Wayne County
(Previously published in Farm and Dairy, August 23, 2018)

“My biggest pasture weed problem is foxtails, what should I do to control them?” This was the comment and question of a recent phone call I received.

Foxtails, yellow, green and giant, are annual weeds. In a pasture situation, annual weeds such as foxtails, ragweed, pigweed, crabgrass and barnyard grass, are the result of pasture management.

These weeds require soil disturbance and bare soil to germinate and grow. Any practice that opens up or destroys the sod base allows these weeds to flourish. Continue reading

Fall Forage Options Still Exist

Hay and Forage Grower
(Previously published on Hay & Forage Grower: August 28, 2018)

Drought and other weather maladies usually prompt the need for additional forage production in the fall and early spring. But even in a normal growing season, it often makes good sense to conserve stored hay supplies and plant an annual forage in late summer or early fall.

“Many producers have already identified the opportunity to put oats, cereal rye, turnips, or other forage crops in this fall,” Continue reading

An Alternative Use for Wool

Tim Lundeen, Feedstuffs editor
(Previously published in Feedstuffs, Nutrition and Health: August 17, 2018)

Wool may offer dietary protein source.

Wool protein hydrolysates offer promise as functional ingredient in pet foods as well as other foods and feeds.

Developing new products from available resources often requires scientists to think differently, and such new products can offer new revenue streams for animal agriculture sectors.

Researchers with New Zealand’s AgResearch have discovered that proteins from wool can be added to the diets of animals to improve their health, opening up a new market for the sheep industry. Continue reading

2018 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 is slated for September 14 and 15 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 technique. Those in attendance will be taught Continue reading

Housing and Working Facilities for Sheep

Stephen Herbert, Masoud Hashemi, Carrie Chickering-Sears, and Sarah Weis in collaboration with Ken Miller, Jacqui Carlevale, Katie Campbell-Nelson, and Zack Zenk, UMass factsheet editors
(Previously published as a factsheet by the University of Massachusetts with UMass Amherst Outreach UMass Extension)

Introduction
Sheep can acclimate to stiff weather conditions with no shelter if they have access to forage, water and protection from the wind. It is recommended that housing be available when lambing occurs during the winter months. Housing usually improves the number of live lambs per ewe. During the summer months, shelter is generally not required although some breeds will seek shade to be protected from the heat.

Housing facilities for sheep do not need to be elaborate or expensive. Old sheds and barns can be excellent housing and usually can be easily renovated to improve the management of the operation. There are many alternatives other than Continue reading

A Brief Refresher on Sheep Diseases

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)

Some diseases that affect sheep.

Sheep can be affected by many diseases. This article gives an overview of some of the most common diseases of sheep. Scrapie, though uncommon, is also included, because it is important for reasons of public health and perception.

Abortion
Abortion is when pregnancy is terminated and the ewe loses her lamb(s), or she gives birth to weak or deformed lamb(s) that die shortly after birth. While it is not unusual for some ewes to abort, flock abortion rates in excess of 5% are usually considered problematic.

There can be many reasons for abortion, and it is not always easy to determine the cause. In the US, the most common infectious causes of sheep abortion are Continue reading

Good Management Practices for Fall Grazing

Ted Wiseman, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Perry County
(Previously published in Farm and Dairy: August 9, 2018)

Fall pasture management is a critical period for pastures. For many of us we have had adequate rainfall up until recently and pastures have done well to this point.

As we transition into late summer and early fall it is critical to pay close attention to your forages. Some pastures may be stockpiled, but those intended to be grazed this fall still need time to rest.

It’s very tempting to use those forages that green up late in the fall. Management decisions made this fall will greatly impact forage growth next year. Continue reading

Pneumonia in Sheep and Goats

Dave Van Metre, DVM, DACVIM Professor / Extension Veterinarian, Colorado State University

Pneumonia is an infection of the lung tissue with multiple causes. It is an important medical problem of sheep and goats of all ages. In younger animals, various bacteria, viruses, and parasites of the upper and lower respiratory tract are often involved in the development of pneumonia. In adults, these same diseases – causing agents can create pneumonia.

In sheep, a systemic virus known as Ovine Progressive Pneumonia Virus (OPPV) can play an important role.

In goats, a similar systemic virus, the Caprine Arthritis and Encephalitis Virus (CAEV), can cause pneumonia.

The word “systemic” means that OPPV and CAEV are viruses that can affect multiple organs, including the lungs. These viruses can also affect the brain, udder and the joints. In certain climates, parasites (worms) can travel from the gastrointestinal tract to the lungs, causing pneumonia.

What conditions increase the risk of pneumonia? Continue reading

Adding Distillers Grain and Soy Hulls to Sheep Diets

Jeff Held, SDSU Sheep Extension Specialists
(Previously published as an Extension Extra: South Dakota State University Cooperative Extension Service)

Feeding Soy Hulls and Dried Distillers Grain with Solubles to Sheep

Co-products from corn and soybean processing industries can be excellent sources of nutrients for livestock. With the growth of ethanol production from corn and increasing number of soybeans processed in the Upper Midwest, livestock producers have many nutrient-dense co-product feed resources readily available. In the Upper Midwest distillers dried grain with solubles (DDGS) derived from ethanol production and soybean hulls (SH) from soybean processing have created the greatest interest to sheep producers.

Interestingly these co-products are both high fiber-low starch in content, much like forages. Yet DDGS is classified as a protein feed and SH could be classified as an energy feedstuff.

As often found with co-product feed ingredients, these have unique nutrient profiles and physical characteristics that require attention when formulating diets. They often can serve multiple roles in diet formulation: Continue reading

The Benefits of Forage Diversity

Mike Rankin, Hay and Forage Grower managing editor
(Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: July 24, 2018)

Mother Nature’s high-quality forage gift.

The end of July always marks a crucial time for forage producers, especially those with livestock mouths to feed and less than desirable forage inventories.

But then again, even if forage inventories are in pretty good shape, why would you want to pass on the opportunity to get some additional high-quality forage?

As recent changing forage-production trends go, seeding something in late summer for additional fall, winter, or early spring forage ranks high on the list.

When temperatures begin to moderate in late August and September, it’s Mother Nature’s gift to have the opportunity for growing and/or harvesting some of the best forage of the season. Further, it can be captured in a variety of forms – hay, baleage, silage, or green.

To capitalize on this opportunity, now is the time to start formulating a strategy and evaluating options. Here are a few of my thoughts that are pertinent to this second forage-growing season: Continue reading

2nd Annual Eastern NSIP Sheep Sale

Rusty Burgett, Program Director, National Sheep Improvement Program

Hello Sheep Producers!

On behalf of the National Sheep Improvement Program and the sale committee, we would like to invite you to our 2nd annual Eastern NSIP Sheep Sale at the Wayne County Fairgrounds in Wooster, OH at 1:00 p.m. on August 11, 2018. This sale will be a great opportunity to access proven genetics that have been selected for increased productivity and profitability. Sheep can be found to improve lambing and weaning rates along with growth rates, increase carcass cutability and build parasite resistance. There will truly be a sheep for everyone. 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
(Previously published in the C.O.R.N Newsletter)

(Image Source: MSU Extension Bulletin, Steps to Successful No-till Establishment of Forages)

Ohio growers experienced another wet spring and compressed 2018 spring planting season.  On some farms, this caused postponement of plans for spring seeding of alfalfa and other perennial forages.  In some areas, the prolonged wet weather affected forage harvest schedules, resulting in harvest equipment running on wet forage fields leaving ruts, compacted soils and damage to alfalfa crowns.  Some of these forage acres need to be re-seeded.

Late summer, and especially the month of August, provides growers with another window of opportunity to Continue reading

A “State of the Alfalfa” Address

Mike Rankin, Hay and Forage Grower managing editor
(Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: July 31, 2018)

(Image Source: Mike Rankin, Hay and Forage Grower)

Sometimes it’s good to stop looking at the vegetation in the road ditch and adjoining fields and direct your eyes toward the larger landscape. That’s what I intend to do here with the focus being on alfalfa.

In essence, this will be something of a “State of the Alfalfa” dissertation with few specific recommendations, but some important concepts to understand if you grow and harvest alfalfa, or serve those who do.

Some things never change Continue reading

Understanding Fall Lambing

Dr. Christopher Schauer, Director and Animal Scientist, NDSU Hettinger Research Extension Center
Dr. Reid Redden, Extension Sheep and Goat Specialist, Texas A&M
(Previously published online with Extension)

(Image Source: North Dakota State University)

Fall lambing is a technique that can be utilized to capture additional productivity from many of today’s sheep breeds. Fall lambing has many positive attributes, including but not limited to, increased utilization of facilities and other resources, accelerated returns on animal investments, provide year-round supply of lamb, and provide options to lambing outside winter and spring months. The two negatives of fall lambing are lower conception rates and fewer lambs born per ewe lambing.

Most sheep will stop cycling when days start getting longer (Jan/Feb) and return to cyclicity when days start getting shorter (Aug/Sept). However, some breeds with naturally long breeding seasons (6-8 months), such as Dorset, Polypay, Rambouillet, Targhee, Katahdin, and Finnsheep, start cycling sooner and adapt to fall lambing with more success than short length breeding seasons (4 months) breeds. Selecting replacements from dams that have proven records of fall lambing will Continue reading

Using Hay to Meet Sheep Nutritional Needs

Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Wayne County
(Previously published in: A Guide to Katahdin Hair Sheep)

Sheep are ruminants, so outside of a feedlot situation the majority, if not all, of their nutrient requirements should be met from forages. For most sheep owners, this means that hay is an important component of the ration through at least the winter months and possibly even longer, including times of pasture shortages due to drought or poor forage stands. There are two critical questions to answer when using hay to meet sheep nutritional needs:

  • What is the nutrient content and quality of the hay?
  • What are the nutrient requirements of the sheep?

The number one factor affecting the quality and nutrient content of hay is Continue reading

Ram Health: Pizzle Rot

Dr. John Martin, Veterinary Scientist, Sheep, Goat and Swine/OMAFRA
(Previously published on Ontario, Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs)

(Image Source: Renn-vue Farms)

Pizzle Rot in Sheep

To deal with the cause first. Like many conditions we see in sheep, pizzle rot is the result of an interaction between a bacteria and some other factor. The bacteria is Corynebacterium renale or one of that group. These bacteria have the ability to break urea down using an enzyme, urease. The other factor is an increase in the protein level of the diet, quite common in the month before breeding to improve the condition of the rams. Once the protein in the diet from all sources rises above 16%, urine can contain more than 4% urea. This excess urea makes the urine alkaline. The bacterial urease breaks down the urea to release excess ammonia. It is this ammonia that causes a severe irritation and ulceration of the skin around the preputial opening. Once the skin is ulcerated, C. renale or other bacteria will infect it. The debris Continue reading

Early vs. Late Lambing – Which Option are You Considering this Breeding Season?

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

The purpose of this article is to examine the pros and cons of each system and how they can fit individual producers goals and operations. Neglected in this discussion is fall lambing, which is not an attempt to minimize this as a viable management system. Fall lambing is viable, with the proper genetics and feed resources.

Early or Winter Lambing
Early lambing systems have some definite advantages over other systems. High on the list is labor availability. Many farmers don’t have as many demands on their time during winter as they do during spring. Fieldwork, planting, calving, etc., are all time-consuming and high input periods. There simply may not be enough time to lamb out a bunch of ewes. This is a real and practical consideration, since Continue reading

There’s No Joke about Using a Teaser Ram

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

As many producers are in the midst of preparing for the upcoming breeding season, there are many tasks that need to be completed before turning the rams in. Of course, decisions need to be made regarding mating pairs and when to start flushing the ewes, but in this process have you ever considered “jump starting” the cycling of your flock in preparation for breeding. With this, I have a few questions that I have to ask many of you. Have you ever introduced a teaser ram to allow your ewes start cycling and to shorten the breeding season? If you answered no to both of these questions, I’ll ask, why not? Continue reading

P. tenuis, Meningeal Worm in Small Ruminants

Dr. Tim McDermott, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Franklin County
(Previously Published in Farm and Dairy: July 12, 2018)

When I was a veterinary student in the 1990’s in parasitology class we learned about Paralephostrongylus tenuis (P. tenuis), the meningeal worm primarily affecting small ruminants, as an uncommon, even rare occurrence in private practice.  When I joined Extension in 2015 in Hocking County, I found that for small ruminant producers in southeastern Ohio, this parasite was frequently encountered.  P. tenuis is a type of roundworm that has white tailed deer as its primary host.  In white tailed deer however, the parasite infrequently causes illness, but instead will live inside the deer for years with no outward medical signs, excepting only eggs shed from the roundworm into the environment within the deer feces.  The life cycle of this roundworm parasite is classified as indirect.  This means that further maturation of the parasite into an infective larval stage occurs in a second host outside of the deer and this intermediate host is then ingested by another species.  The intermediate host for P. tenuis is Continue reading

Mycotoxin Concerns when Feeding Small Ruminants

Michael Neary, Extension Small Ruminant Specialist, Purdue University
(Previously Published as a Sheep and Meat Goat Extension Publication)

Identifying Corn Ear Rots (Image Source: No-Till Farmer)

Introduction
During the 2009 Indiana corn harvest, livestock producers heard numerous reports of mycotoxin levels high enough to cause concern. The main mycotoxins in feed grains that sheep and meat goat producers need to be concerned with are deoxynivalenol (DON) and zearalenone (ZEN). Deoxynivalenol is also known as vomitoxin. Zearalenone arises from Gibberrella ear rot, or Gib ear rot. Both of these mycotoxins are produced by a Fusarium fungus. There is a limited amount of research and extension information available on the effect of sheep performance when consuming feeds infected with DON and ZEN. There is less information for Continue reading

Recap: 2018 Ohio Sheep Day

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

As the sun rose above the hills of southeastern Ohio this past Saturday, the stage was set for the 2018 Ohio Sheep Day. Shepherds from all around gathered in Belle Valley at Ohio State’s Eastern Agriculture Research Station (EARS) to take in its unique view and to get an update on what has been happening at EARS since the last Sheep Day in 2009. In addition, Dr. CathAnn Kress, Dean of the College of Food, Agriculture, and Environmental Sciences as well as Dr. Dave Benfeld, Associate Vice President, AVP, Ag Admin and Dir. joined those in attendance to listen in on the current happenings and research being conducted at the research station. A unique piece of this years sheep day included the attendance of several OSU Animal faculty interested in the sustainability of Ohio’s sheep industry.

To begin the morning session, attendees were loaded onto the tour wagons and headed to the sheep handling facility. Here, shepherds were introduced to Continue reading

The Hidden Costs of Making Hay

Alan Newport, Beef Producer editor
(Previously published in Beef Producer: July 3, 2018)

How to hate hay.

One of the worst practices we do, from a soil-health and productivity standpoint, is haying.

Haying generally removes significantly more nutrients from the soil than do grain crops, in addition to the damage it causes to soil life and the lack of biological stimulation.

Examples from an Oklahoma State University publication generally match the data from other states. These are pounds of nutrient per ton of hay, so you can extrapolate this to a per-acre basis using your hay yields.

Note these are only mineral content. Nitrogen is Continue reading

How are You Preparing for Breeding Season?

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

(Image Source: Premier 1 Supplies)

Throughout the year you make decisions to support or improve performance, but are there areas in your operation where you are overlooking some lost opportunities? Lost opportunities are those areas that could be tweaked to further improve production or performance. Let’s take a look at the breeding season to determine if there are opportunities to improve performance in that area.

A large factor that affects profitability in a sheep operation is the lamb crop. This involves anything from birth weights to growth to efficiency. Breeding season is a critical time so that we insure not only that ewes get pregnant, but that they also produce twins. We not only want high conception rates, but those conception rates need to be high during the first heat cycle.

Prior to breeding season, rams should be Continue reading

Tall Fescue Toxicosis – Knowing the Signs

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Noble County

Kentucky 31 tall fescue

Tall fescue “Kentucky-31” (KY-31) is one of the most predominant forages in the nation. Its popularity began in the 1930s when a wild strain of fescue was discovered on a Kentucky farm and it became recognized for wide adaptability. In the1940s, the cultivated variety was publically released and can now be found in most pastures in the United States. This cultivar is easy to establish, persistent, tolerant of many environmental stresses, resistant to pests, and can aid livestock managers in prolonging the grazing season. However, tall fescue does not accomplish all of these tasks unassisted.

An endophytic fungus called Neotyphodium coenophialum can be credited for many of these benefits. The fungus cannot be seen and can only be detected by laboratory analysis. The fescue endophyte forms a mutually beneficial relationship with the grass, but Continue reading

How to Battle Footrot

Dr. Bill Shulaw, OSU Extension Veterinarian

This week we dig back into our archives to find an article that many could probably related to, especially with the weather that we have been experiencing!

With an unusual wet spring and summer, this situation has opened up the door for a common sheep disease to drastically affect your flock: contagious footrot. Warm wet weather softens the hoof and soft tissues between the toes making the foot more susceptible to infection. It also favors the transmission of the causative bacteria, Dichelobacter nodosus (formerly Bacteroides nodsus), from the hooves of carrier sheep to the hooves of unaffected animals. For a review of the causes of virulent and benign footrot in sheep, as well as “scald,” the reader is referred to the appropriate section in the latest edition of the SID Sheep Production Handbook available through the American Sheep Industry.

When footrot appears in a flock, it often Continue reading

Top 7 Factors for Quality Hay

Mike Rankin, Hay and Forage Grower managing editor
(Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: June 26, 2018)

One of the many things that David Letterman gets remembered for is his Top 10 lists.

These lists included such things as the Top 10 Signs Your Kid Had a Bad First Day at School, the Top 10 Numbers Between One and 10, and the Top 10 Dog Excuses for Losing the Dog Show (No. 3 – Didn’t know that was the judge’s leg).

Lists, especially those that are ranked, are great for generating a plethora of discussion and arguments — just ask two passionate baseball fans to list the top 10 players during the past 50 years. It’s likely both will end their day in an emergency room.

Agree or not, lists do invoke thought and reflection.

With that in mind, here’s Dennis Hancock’s “Top 7 Factors that Affect Hay Forage Quality.” The University of Georgia Extension forage specialist enumerated the list during a recent Alabama Forage Focus webinar. The factors are listed in order of perceived importance. Continue reading

When Rain Wrecks Plans for Pastures

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Noble County

Mud, nutrient leaching, and erosion are a few of the ailments pastures across our region are experiencing in 2018. It can be challenging to be thankful for rain in years like this. This year you have likely witnessed the rain wash away freshly planted seed, topsoil, and nutrients while trudging through swamps that should be access roads, watching seed heads develop on valuable hay, and cutting fallen limbs off damaged fence.

Nature has taunted many this season. In Southeast Ohio, opportunities to make hay have been few and far between due to soggy soil conditions and high humidity. The longer harvest is delayed, the poorer nutritive value becomes. Most producers have probably harvested first cutting hay that will barely meet requirements for animal maintenance. Looking beyond the frustration to solutions, there are things we can do to relieve the pressure that heavy rainfall inflicts on hayfields and grazed pastures.

Mud Management
One of the best ways to manage mud in grazing situations is Continue reading

BioWorma – Natural Parasite Control

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

BioWorma is the one of the latest products developed in the livestock sector to be used as an additional management tool to control for internal parasites. At this time, BioWorma has been registered by International Animal Health Products Pty Ltd in Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. This product is said to become available to producers in AU and NZ by early July, but as for the US, BioWorma must first receive EPA approval. Upon approval, regulation of use and distribution will be established by each state. Until then, gathering a better understanding of the product itself and how it can be implemented on-farm will be key to its success here in the US.

Continue reading

Ag-note: Why Ewe Should Control Feed Intake

Carolina Fernandez, Dermot Hutchinson, Randi Shaw, Jake Parkinson, Caitlyn McCaulley, OSU Animal Science Undergraduate Students
Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

Why Ewe Should Control Feed Intake
** Follow the link above to view the Ag-note.

This weeks Ag-note comes from OSU students Carolina Fernandez, Dermot Hutchinson, Randi Shaw, Jake Parkinson, and Caitlyn McCaulley as they present a detailed overview on the importance of controlled feed intake in small ruminants. The students were inspired by Dr. Francis Fluharty to present on this topic as Dr. Fluharty expressed that this type of feeding strategy is not just limited to feedlot cattle. Although controlling feed intake comes with a cost due to an increase in labor and time spent feeding, the benefits from this strategy certainly outweigh these costs.

At a basic level, producers have two options when it comes to feeding strategies, Continue reading

Multiflora Rose Problems in Pastures? Control it Now!

Dwight Lingenfelter, Penn State Extension Associate, Weed Science

(Image Source: Invasive Plant Atlas of New England)

As spring progresses, multiflora rose aggressively grows and eventually blooms in late May/early June. Several tactics can be used to control this problem weed and these methods will be briefly discussed.

Mechanical control methods include mowing, which requires repeated mowings per season for several years, and excavating, which involves pulling individual plants from the soil with heavy equipment, can be costly, time-consuming and laborious. However, these are viable means for multiflora rose management. Also, management techniques which include Continue reading

Think Summer Annuals Now

Kassidy Buse, Hay and Forage Grower summer editorial intern
(Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: June 12, 2018)

Summer annual grass grazing is a great tool for livestock operations. While it adds flexibility, management decisions are needed to make it worth the time and cost.

Sorghum-sudangrass (sudex), sudangrass, pearl millet, foxtail millet, and teff are the most commonly used grazing summer annuals.

Brad Schick, University of Nebraska-Lincoln extension educator, offered some advice for utilizing summer annuals in a recent UNL BeefWatch newsletter.

If earlier grazing is desired, sorghums and sudangrasses can be used but only if planted when the soil temperature is above 60°F, Continue reading

Hay Moisture Levels

Chris Penrose, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Morgan County
Dan Lima, OSU Extension Educator, Belmont County

With the limited opportunities and short windows many have had to make hay so far this year, some hay may have been made at higher moisture levels than we would like. Moisture levels have a direct effect on hay quality. What we have found to be a consistent number in the literature is 20% moisture maximum. To be more specific:

  1. Small squares to be 20% or less,
  2. Large round, 18% or less and
  3. Large squares, 16%

Hay baled at 20% moisture or higher has a high probability of developing mold, which will decrease the quality of hay by decreasing both protein and total nonstructural carbohydrates (TNC). A.K.A. Energy! Continue reading

Managing Parasites in Small Ruminants

Matt Reese, Ohio’s Country Journal editor
(Previously published in Ohio’s Country Journal: June 15, 2018)

The sun is out, the grass is growing and livestock in Ohio are out on pasture contentedly grazing. There is something special about the relationship between animals and pasture on a farm but there are challenges as well, including parasites.

“Worldwide, producers are losing billions of dollars to parasites through production losses and actual animal losses. They are more of an issue in the Eastern U.S. because our grazing areas are more concentrated than in the West. Issues with parasites increase this time of year when temperatures are 50 to 104 degrees F. Beyond this range, their survivability decreases significantly,” said Brady Campbell, program coordinator of the Ohio State University sheep team. “When it is hot, humid, and wet they thrive. Now everything is out on pasture and when it is wet and dewy it is a problem. Dew is Continue reading

De-wormers – Are They an Extremely Valuable Non-Renewable Resource?

Michelle Arnold, DVM (Ruminant Extension Veterinarian, UKVDL), University of Kentucky

Although this piece is written from a Beef cattle perspective, it covers an extremely timely and important topic. As you read this article, think about how this may apply to you in your operation and what management strategies you can implement in order to prevent production losses associated with parasitic infection.

A “non-renewable” resource is a resource with economic value that cannot be readily replaced on a level equal to its consumption. Petroleum and coal are two familiar examples of valuable non-renewable products used daily, but known to exist in limited supply, and formation of new product takes billions of years. De-wormers, on the other hand, are products that can be purchased from almost any farm or veterinary supply store and online. There are many different kinds, fairly inexpensive, and seemingly effective at Continue reading

Pasture Shortages

Kassidy Buse, Hay and Forage Grower summer editorial intern
(Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: June 5, 2018)

Supplementing short pastures.

You could say there was a perfect storm coming into this spring. The combination of wet weather, cool temperatures, and less growing degree days has led to slow pasture growth. Low hay stockpiles have compounded the problem.

Where reduced forage availability isn’t enough to support grazing [livestock], supplementation is required. This prompts the question, “What is the most efficient supplementation approach?” Continue reading

Poor Forage Establishment

Mike Rankin, Hay and Forage Grower managing editor
(Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: June 5, 2018)

Dealing with crappy new seedings.

(Image Source: Mike Rankin, Hay and Forage Grower)

Every farmer has done “it.”

That “it” is to walk a new forage seeding field that just never developed. There is nothing more disheartening than a newly seeded hayfield or pasture that for one or a variety of reasons was done before “it” ever really started.

During my extension agent days, I walked many of these fields. Sometimes the failure could be blamed on the weather, but there were cases when the reasons for the lack of establishment just couldn’t be fully explained.

Most forage seeds are small and sensitive to their microenvironment. Seeding depth is also critical — too deep or too shallow can Continue reading

Energy Intake and Protein Concentration Effects Lamb Performance and Visceral Organ Mass

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

As summer approaches, I can’t help but to think about the upcoming breeding sheep show season, when will Mother Nature let us to make our first cutting of hay in southeastern Ohio, and the number of lambs that are on feed in the state of Ohio. For those producers that are feeding out lambs, I have a few management questions to ask. Currently, how are you feeding your lambs? Are your lamb’s offered ad libitum access to feed all day or are you feeding your group of lambs at a specific rate (i.e. percent of body weight)? When formulating your rations, how are you determining the percent protein needed in your lamb diets? Are you feeding Continue reading

Ag-note: Comparison of Grazing Systems

DeVaughn Davis, Nathaniel Kinney, Kristy Payne, Dalton Shipley, OSU Animal Science Undergraduate Students
Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

Comparison of Continuous vs. Management Intensive Grazing
** Follow the link above to view the Ag-note.

Another school year has passed and I am happy to say that I have completed my third year of being involved in AS 4004, Small Ruminant Production at The Ohio State University. This year Dr. Liz Parker and myself co-instructed this course and worked diligently to expose our students to every aspect of the small ruminant industry, including extension outreach and producer education. As a part of the course curriculum, students were challenged to compose an Ag-note (educational poster) to highlight a specific topic that is related to sheep or goat production, management, and husbandry. As viewers, you will see these unique postings appear periodically and will be noted in the title as “Ag-note.”

For our first Ag-note, OSU students DeVaughn Davis, Nathaniel Kinney, Kristy Payne, and Dalton Shipley share an economic perspective on the comparison of continuous versus management intensive grazing. Continue reading

Get After Grasses Before Heading

Kassidy Buse, Hay and Forage Grower summer editorial intern
(Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: June 5, 2018)

Across the U.S., acres of grass are being harvested for hay with a majority destined to be stored as bales for winter forage. This hay must be able to provide the necessary amount of protein and energy to fulfill the nutrient needs of the [animals] that will consume it.

But all hay should not be viewed as equal as it varies in nutrient content due to multiple factors.

While fertilization, weed pressure, and grass variety are what most consider, the most influential factor on nutrient content is stage of maturity at harvest. Continue reading

Forages and Change

Jim Johnson, soils and crop consultant, Noble Research Institute
(Previously published in Hay and Forage Grower: March 15, 2018)

Changing it up

Full disclosure — I am not an economist. However, my premise is this: For various reasons, many growers would be economically better off growing a different forage than what they have always grown.

Growers, myself included, often dedicate time and energy to selecting the right variety and best management practices for a particular forage. But we seldom seem to stop and think about if that forage is the right one to grow. We often rationalize this action with statements like “This is what we’ve always done” or “We grow (insert your forage) because we grow (insert your forage).” Continue reading

12 Simple Steps of Grazing

Matt Poore, Ruminant Nutrition Extension Specialist, North Carolina State University
Johnny Rogers, North Carolina Amazing Grazing Program Coordinator
(Previously published in Hay and Forage Grower: March 15, 2018)

A 12-step plan to Amazing Grazing

Adaptive grazing is a term describing a management approach that includes many practices such as frequent rotation of cattle and stockpiling for winter grazing. It is not a recipe; it is a very flexible system that producers can modify to fit their needs and skills. In North Carolina, our educational program “Amazing Grazing” strives to teach principles and critical thinking skills, so producers can begin adaptive grazing.

We have found that producers we work with are at varying points on the journey, so laying out our approach in a 12-step plan is helpful to Continue reading

Does Crabgrass Really Hate You?

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Noble County

Forage type crabgrass – ‘Quick-N-Big’

You may have heard the rumor that crabgrass (Digitaria sanguinalis) hates you. Those who profit from the sale of lawn care products may like you to believe that, but despite the claims, it really isn’t true. Each year crabgrass works toward accomplishing the goal of all living things, to reproduce, and if it had a life motto, it might be something like “Life is short, so live it!” Any plant out of place can be considered a weed and in the eye of many, crabgrass fits this description. However in a forage system, crabgrass can be the right plant, in the right place, at the right time.

Crabgrass is an annual warm-season grass that reproduces by Continue reading

The 3 P’s of Small Ruminant Production

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Noble County

Small ruminant producers are very familiar with “the three P’s” – Predators. Pathogens. Parasites. The three P’s account for most livestock losses on-farm. In order to be successful, producers need to tailor their management practices to minimize the impacts of predators, pathogens, and parasites.

That was the main focus of Session #3 of Southeast Ohio Sheep & Goat School on May 10 at the Eastern Agricultural Research Station (EARS). Presenters from OSU Extension and USDA Wildlife Services shared information about the environments of the three P’s, how they thrive, ways to deter them, and how to adjust management strategies when issues arise. Continue reading

Sheep A.I. Day in Licking County

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. All thanks to the Licking County Sheep Improvement Association, Ohio shepherds now have 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 18, 2018 at the Hartford Fairgrounds. Continue reading

On-farm Biosecurity

Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Wayne County
(Previously published in: A Guide to Katahdin Hair Sheep)

As we begin yet another season filled with selling and showing livestock, it is important to keep biosecurity in mind. Rory reminds us that most economically important diseases are purchased. All newly purchased animals should be quarantined before introducing them to your flock. Therefore, as you consider purchasing a new stud ram or plan on taking your flock to the county fair, proper biosecurity measures will pay off for you and your flock in the long run.

How easy or difficult would it be to introduce an infectious disease into your flock? Do you know the factors that increase the risk of introducing an infectious disease into your flock? Farm biosecurity is about Continue reading

Animal Performance Losses Associated with Late Harvested Grass Hay

Hay and Forage Grower
(Previously published in Hay and Forage Grower: May 8, 2018)

It’s true for fescue, too.

Volumes have been written about the importance of cutting alfalfa on time. Truth be told, it may be even more critical for grasses.

Jimmy Henning, extension forage agronomist with the University of Kentucky, points to research from the University of Tennessee that is a compelling example of how harvest timing drives future animal performance. He writes about the research in the most recent UK Forage News newsletter.

The research compared three cutting maturities for tall fescue: Continue reading

Benefits of Wider Swaths in Hay Making

Alan Newport, Beef Producer editor
(Previously published in Beef Producer: May 2, 2018)

(Image Source: Beef Producer)

Hay-makers have realized in recent years that wide swaths raise quality and finish faster.

Laying down hay in the widest possible swath speeds drying, improves quality and probably saves money in the long run.

In fact, forming a wide swath at cutting is the single most important factor in maximizing initial drying rate and preserving starches and sugars, says Dan Undersander, University of Wisconsin extension agronomist. Continue reading

When Should Pastures be Mowed?

Chris Penrose, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Morgan County
(Previously published in Ohio Farmer: May 14, 2018)

The spring of 2018 was the latest I can remember feeding hay to my cattle, and many producers were searching at the last minute to find some extra hay. Pastures were very slow growing this spring until it finally warmed up in early May. On my farm, common orchardgrass typically starts heading out in late April, and it was two weeks later this year. The late-arriving spring brought many challenges around farms, and the rush to get crops in the ground and to make hay has put mowing pastures on the backburner. However, now may be a great time to mow pastures.

Our perennial grasses go through two stages during the growing season: the reproductive stage and the vegetative stage. When grass starts growing in the spring, its main objective is Continue reading

The Basics of Tall Fescue

Dr. Jimmy Henning, Livestock Forage Specialist, University of Kentucky
(Previously published in Farmers Pride: January 18, 2018)

Tall fescue and its endophyte – implications for your farm.

The story of Kentucky 31 tall fescue reads like a soap opera. Found on a Menifee County Kentucky hill side in 1931, it quickly became a rival to Kentucky bluegrass as the most important grass in Kentucky. Its yield and persistence made it look unbeatable, but its animal performance numbers were sometimes poor or worse. The decision by the University of Kentucky to go forward with the release of Kentucky 31 was filled with about as much drama as you will ever find in an academic setting.

We now know the poor animal performance AND Continue reading

Start Planning for Drought Now

Gary Bates, Beef and Forage Center Director, University of Tennessee
(Previously published on Hay and Forage Grower: March 15, 2018)

This time of the year most of us are waiting for winter to end, looking forward to warmer temperatures and greener pastures. Very few people woke up this morning thinking about drought.

That topic won’t enter our minds for another few months. By that time, however, drought might become one of the dominant topics on everyone’s mind. The problem is that if we wait until June or July to start thinking about how to deal with a drought, we have missed out on several management tools to reduce its impact. Continue reading

The Effects of Finishing Diet and Weight on Lamb Performance, Carcass Characteristics, and Flavor

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

The beauty of the small ruminant industry is that producers are able to capitalize on niche markets that surround religious holidays. Unfortunately, it is clear that the price of lambs at the sale barn has dropped as seen in recent market reports, with the conclusion of Christian and Orthodox Easter’s as well as Passover. Checking the calendar, it appears that we are approaching both Ramadan (month of fasting beginning May 6) and Eid al-Fitr (June 5-7). The occurrence of these religious holidays may allow for the lamb market to see an increase in market prices, but many fall and winter born lambs in the eastern US will also be entering the market as they approach finishing weights and in turn may flood the market. Therefore, as a producer, it is important to have a marketing plan in mind when making breeding decisions for proper lambing dates.

Aside from religious holidays, lamb Continue reading

Is it Time to Start Grazing?

Chris Penrose, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Morgan County

For the spring we are having, and each producer’s situation, this is a difficult question. However, for most of us, the answer is yes! The recent warm weather has allowed the pasture and hay fields to really start growing at a fast clip.

There are several different thoughts on when to start grazing and I admittedly take a very aggressive approach to start grazing in the spring. I will even confess that it probably started thirty years ago when I was running out of hay. I start grazing as soon as I can. I use two approaches to early grazing. The first one is to use a “stockpiled” hay field (I made two cuttings of hay last summer, then let the field grow from August to March) and put my animals in the field on March 3rd. March 2nd was the last day I planned on Continue reading

Connecting with Ewe

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

Since its re-launch in August of 2017, the OSU Sheep Team has generated interested from shepherds all over the state of Ohio as well as around the world. Our team strives to provide both timely and timeless small ruminant production information to producers that can be easily be applied on-farm.

On a weekly basis, our team works on generating and providing quality information that we feel is important for shepherds to know. However, we would like to try something different and turn a part of this process over to you as a viewer. For those that follow our updates on a weekly basis, we are interested in hearing from you! Continue reading

Hauling Pen-pack Manure

Glen Arnold, OSU Extension Field Specialist, Manure Nutrient Management

(Image Source: North Dakota State University Extension)

When spring arrives, both large and small livestock owners with pen-pack manure are looking to apply the manure as soon as field conditions allow. Across the state I have seen stockpiles of pen-pack manure outside of sheep, horse, cattle, and dairy buildings. The nutrients and organic matter in pen-pack manure are an excellent addition to farm fields.

We always want to keep water quality in mind when handing manure. The goal is to make good use of the manure nutrients and keep those manure nutrients out of streams and ditches.

Pen-pack manure contains Continue reading

With Sheep, The Cheapest Mineral Isn’t

Dr. Francis Fluharty, Research Professor, Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University

Regardless of the animals stage of production or time of year, Dr. Fluharty reminds us that mineral supplementation is important! Although mineral

(Image Source: Back Yard Herds)

can be quite costly initially, Dr. Fluharty outlines the risks and production losses associated with the lack of mineral supplementation.

The major nutritional requirements are: water, energy, protein, minerals, and vitamins. In many cases, sheep producers do a good job of providing adequate water, energy, and protein. However, many sheep producers buy ‘cheap’ minerals, ignoring the fact that the availability of the minerals in the oxide form is low. In many of these mixes, only 10-20% are Continue reading

The Benefits and Challenges of Producing Alternative Forages

Mike Rankin, Hay and Forage Grower managing editor
(Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: February 15, 2018)

Sold on sericea hay (and other stuff)

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

I meet a lot of people at forage meetings during the course of a year. Never has anyone broached the subject of sericea lespedeza . . . that’s until I met Reed Edwards at a Georgia hay conference in 2016.

Edwards is one of those farmers who is not afraid to move outside the box of accepted practices or try whatever the latest extension recommendation might be. Either way, he’s going to forge his own path.

There’s currently a lot going on at Edwards’ 90-acre Fox Pipe Farm. In addition to harvesting sericea lespedeza hay for Continue reading

Making Sense of Sheep

Garth Ruff, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Henry County

Rookie Shepherding 101

Last summer when my younger brother moved out of our parents’ house and on to a 25-acre farm just six miles down the road, we decided to get into the sheep business together. Growing up we had experience with beef cattle and hogs and quite honestly sheep were an afterthought until the purchase of this small farm. The previous owners had had a couple of horses and had row cropped the majority of the farm. After some research and number crunching, here are 6 things that we considered as first time shepherds. Continue reading

Plan for Alternative Forages, Even During the Growing Season

Allen Gahler, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Sandusky County

Winter has come and gone, and despite the many scares Mother Nature provided, and the well-in-advance warnings by local weather stations around the state, many of us chose not to rush out and stock up on break and milk. And miraculously, we survived. Hopefully, all of your livestock, with the proper planning and nutrition, survived the cold snaps and snow storms as well.

So now that we are moving into the growing season and will soon be, or maybe already are, grazing in some areas, all of those concerns about what and when to feed livestock are over until next winter approaches. Right? Continue reading

Absorbency of Alternative Livestock Bedding Sources

Reggie Voyles, undergraduate research intern, Department of Animal Science, Iowa State University
Mark Honeyman, professor, Department of Animal Science, Iowa State University
Iowa State University, Northwest Research Farms and Allee Demonstration Farm ISRF05-29, 31
(Previously published on Talking Sheep – Sheep Education and Information: March 28, 2018)

Introduction:
As the demand for niche-marketed meats increases, so does need for research in this area. One niche market that is being examined is pork raised in deep-bedded systems. There is also a call for alternative bedding materials. Farm produced bedding sources such as cornstalks and various types of straws are commonly used. However, this study looked at other possible materials. Products were Continue reading

Temporary Fencing – The Future of Grazing

Johnny Rogers, North Carolina State Grazing Program Coordinator
(Previously featured in Hay & Forage Grower: February 15, 2018)

There’s power in polywire

Pasture-based livestock production at first glance is a simple system. Producers use herbivores to harvest forage and create something they can sell (or enjoy).

In the past, it has been typical to use a continuous grazing system where livestock will remain on the same pasture for an extended period, but this can lead to poor forage utilization. Livestock will roam large pastures as they seek out their preferred plant species and leave others to become degraded, mature, and unpalatable.

Many producers do not appreciate the value of grass until Continue reading

Graze Away Parasites

Lauren Peterson, Hay and Forage Grower summer editorial intern
(Previously featured in Hay & Forage Grower: March 27, 2018)

Cattle, horses, sheep, and goats are all susceptible to internal parasites, which can be devastating to producers economically.

“Many times, the effects are subclinical and may go unnoticed, but severe infestations can cause disease and death,” says Adam Speir, a county extension agent with the University of Georgia’s forage extension team.

Speir notes that the effects of infestations can come in many forms, with the most common being reduced milk production, reduced weaning weights, delayed puberty, lower Continue reading

Wool Sheep Judging Tips

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

This past weekend at the University of Findlay, sheep breeders, judges, and enthusiast alike joined for a day filled with wool sheep breed judging advice, knowledge, and experience. The focus of this workshop was to expose judgers how to appropriately evaluate fleeces and wool sheep breeds. Continue reading

How Often Should You Cut Alfalfa?

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

Most dairy producers are fairly aggressive with alfalfa cutting schedules. Their goal is to achieve high-quality forage.

But cutting too frequently usually shortens the life of alfalfa and often gives lower yields, even when more cuttings are taken per growing season.

Recent results from a two-year study at the Western Agricultural Research Center of The Ohio State University demonstrate the yield and quality trade-off. Continue reading

Management Practices that can Affect the Flavor Intensity of Lamb

Jerad Jaborek, Graduate Research Associate, The Ohio State University

Now is the time of year when the majority of winter lambs are being weaned. After weaning, these lambs will be sold at the sale barn

or retained on the farm to be placed on feed to reach market ready weights. Have you ever considered that the way we manage these lambs will affect the flavor intensity of the sheep meat produced from these lambs?

According to 2015 National Lamb Quality Audit, which conducted surveys with people working in the lamb supply chain (retailers, food service, and purveyors) to rank the importance of quality attributes. Eating satisfaction was the most important attribute to survey participants and was commonly defined as the Continue reading

Department of Animal Sciences Honors Ohio Shepherd

Steve Boyles, OSU Extension Beef Specialist, The Ohio State University

On April 13th, the Department of Animal Sciences will celebrate the achievements of those who have enhanced student education and enriched the animal science industry through the annual Animal Sciences Annual Recognition Reception. Several prestigious student awards will also be presented.

This year, the Department will induct Mike Stitzlein into the Animal Sciences Hall of Fame. Continue reading

To Hay or Not to Hay

Walt Davis
(Previously published in BeefProducer, December 19, 2017)

I had a conversation recently in which some common mindsets that interfere with profitability in livestock operations were brought out.

An acquaintance asked me if we had started feeding. When I told him that we had not, he said that he had been feeding hay for over a month and followed up with, “I start feeding every year on the fourth of November.”

Knowing that he had an unusually wet summer, I asked if he did not have grass left when his normal time to start feeding came around. He replied that Continue reading

Turning the Forage World Upside Down – Condensed Tannins and Small Ruminants

Mike Rankin, Hay and Forage Grower managing editor
(previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: March 20, 2018)

Well, someday it will.

(Image Source: Mike Rankin, Hay and Forage Grower)

In the February issue of Hay & Forage Grower, I shared a story about Reed Edwards, a South Carolina farmer who had been growing sericea lespedeza hay for about 10 years.

Edwards sold his hay about as fast as he could make it, mostly to customers with Boar show goats or dairy goats.

Why goats? Continue reading

Spring Seeding of Forages

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

(Image Source: Warner Brothers Seed Company)

Late this month (depending on the weather) and on into April provides one of the two preferred times to seed perennial cool-season forages. The other preferred timing for cool-season grasses and legumes is in late summer, primarily the month of August here in Ohio. The relative success of spring versus summer seeding of forages is greatly affected by the prevailing weather conditions, and so growers have success and failures with each option.

Probably the two primary difficulties with spring plantings are Continue reading

8 Tips for a Quality 1st Cutting

Chris Parker
(previously published in Indiana Prairie Farmer: February 23, 2018)

Forage Corner: Here is advice to help you make the best first-cutting hay possible.

Making quality hay can be difficult any time of year. First-cutting hay can provide extra challenges, largely due to weather and other time demands early in the season.

Continue reading

Guard Dogs Deployed as Part of US Wolf-Sheep Study

Keith Ridler, Associated Press
(previously published on Morning Ag Clips: March 11, 2018)

(Image Source: Morning Ag Clips, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Flickr/Creative Commons)

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Federal scientists are trying to decide if it’s time to let the big dogs out.

Nearly 120 dogs from three large breeds perfected over centuries in Europe and Asia to be gentle around sheep and children but vicious when confronting wolves recently underwent a study to see how they’d react to their old nemesis on a new continent. Continue reading

Preparation and Considerations for the 2018 Show Season

Tim Barnes, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Marion County

As the winter lambing season comes to an end, many purebred and club lamb producers are opening their barns and offering their latest lamb crop up for sale to compete in the 2018 show season. As many begin to flip through sale ads and Facebook postings, there are somethings that exhibitors need to take into consideration before making their big purchase.

So you want to show a market lamb, but don’t know where to begin?

The experts say selection and show preparation are a science that will aid in predicting the final product of your sheep.  A well-planned feed and Continue reading

How to Receive More for your Wool Clip

David Rowe, General Manager, Mid-States Wool Growers

Food for thought as spring is upon us and the 2018 shearing season begins.

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 valid reasons to raise a specific breed of sheep, but the question on “how to make money” has not even been asked. As we know, the primary reason that most people raise sheep is to produce a successful lamb crop that can be marketed as well as a wool clip that can be sold as an additional product. Continue reading

Think Ahead about Weed Control in Alfalfa

Jeff Stachler, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Auglaize County
(previously published in Farm and Dairy: February 22, 2018)

As alfalfa stands age, they become thinner. The thinner alfalfa population allows weeds to encroach the field. Weeds can also be a problem if weeds were not properly managed prior to seeding the alfalfa.

After the establishment year, the weeds that are most frequent in an alfalfa field are winter annual weeds such as common chickweed, henbit, purple deadnettle, shepherd’s-purse, field pennycress, yellow rocket, birdsrape mustard, bushy wallflower, and cressleaf groundsel.

Another group of weeds that can get established are Continue reading

Sheep Records: The Key to Profitability

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

As a follow up to one of last weeks articles, Sheep Selection Tools, a good set of production records will serve as help tool in managing a profitable flock as well as assist you in making appropriate management decisions.

A key to profitability of any livestock operation is a good set of records.

Choosing what type of records to keep for your sheep operation initially starts with looking at what influences profitability of the flock. Once you decide what affects the profitability, then you can start collecting the records that help you make better informed decisions. These decisions might include tasks such as how to select the best performing sheep in your flock, how to identify sheep that should be culled, or how to identify expenses that could be decreased. Continue reading

Pasture: Evaluation and Management of Existing Pasture

Bob Hendershot, Retired State Grassland Conservationist

As we begin to move into spring, we need to start thinking about spring forage growth and how we will be managing our pastures over the course of the new year.

Pasture management is very important for grazing animals; cattle, horse, llama, and sheep owners. By managing pastures more effectively, land managers can increase forage production, lower production costs, improve aesthetics, and promote a healthier environment. The benefits of a well-managed pasture include reducing environmental impacts of your operation, including movement of soil and manure to water bodies; improving property aesthetics, which makes for good neighbor relations, and increases property value; and providing feed and recreation for your horses. Using a rotational grazing system can enhance these benefits.

For optimal health, horses and llamas need to eat 1 to 1.5% and cattle and sheep Continue reading

Sheep Selection Tools

Melanie Barkley, Livestock Extension Educator, PennState Extension

(previously published in Penn State Extension, Animals and Livestock)

Sheep selection should involve more than just visual selection characteristics.

There are a number of tools available for selection, but the key is to combine operation goals with production benchmarks and visual appraisal to select the best sheep for your farm. Plus, producers should take a look at an often overlooked part of the selection process: culling strategies.

Not all sheep are created equal and not all farms are created equal. Before you even walk out to the barn to look at the sheep, the first thing you should do is define your market. Who are you selling to and what does your customer want? You will then be able to define what characteristics are important for your ewe flock to exhibit. Then, step two is Continue reading

What’s Really the Best Management?

Walt Davis
(previously published in Beef Producer: The Grazier’s Gazette, February 27, 2018)

To achieve the best, all parts of the soil-plant-animal-wealth-human complex must be nurtured and none can be degraded.

Humans have a built-in need to make everything (except our desks) neat and orderly. We dislike dealing with things that we cannot categorize into neat little pigeon holes.

Farmers and ranchers are particularly fond of separating their problems and the means of dealing with these problems into tidy individual slots. Weed control here, animal performance there, disease prevention behind, cash flow over here and everybody stay in your place. We often look at these factors as separate and unrelated entities to be addressed one at a time.

The epitome of this fixation would be Continue reading

Mid-States Wool Growers Celebrates 100 Years

Catie Noyes
(previously published in Farm and Dairy: February 28, 2018)

Ohio-based cooperative says good people, good service means loyal farmers.

(Image Source: Catie Noyes – Farm and Dairy)

For 100 years, Mid-States Wool Growers has been working with farmers big and small to help them market their wool. And for most producers marketing their wool through Mid-States Wool Growers Cooperative, it’s about loyalty.

Market prices are not the most ideal these days, but Stanley Strode, wool manager at Mid-States Wool Growers, does his best to make sure growers get a fair price for their wool. Continue reading

Artificial Rearing Newborn Lambs

Tim Barnes, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Marion County

Rearing Lambs Artificially

Management Tips:
Within 2 to 4 hours after birth, decide which lambs among those needing assistance should be removed from their mother. Look for the stressed, or small lambs to select for artificial rearing.
It is important that newborn lambs receive colostrum within the first four hours. The best source of colostrum is from the mother but other ewes within the flock provide a high level of immunity. Continue reading

Hypothermic Lambs: How to Defrost before They’re in the Freezer

Jackie Lee and Kathrine Yunker, 2019 College of Veterinary Medicine DVM Candidates, The Ohio State University
(previously published on Talking Sheep – Sheep Education and Information: February 19, 2018)

Although mother nature can not make up her mind when it comes to the weather, this piece of information still serves a great purpose as it reminds us about the issues that can arise as a result of hypothermia and hypoglycemia as well as the management practices that can be implemented in order to decrease the losses associated with both of these issues.

Winter has already been harsh this year, making it only fitting to write about hypothermia in lambs. Even with the best management, this is bound to be an issue for many sheep producers. Hypothermia has many causes and can affect lambs at different ages. In newborn lambs less than five hours old, hypothermia often occurs due to prolonged exposure to cold temperatures.

Difficult or premature births can Continue reading

Frost-Seeding Season is on the Move

Mike Rankin, Hay and Forage Grower managing editor
(previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: February 20, 2018)

(Image Source: University of Georgia Extension)

I know that you all may be thinking, “how many times are we going to read about frost seeding this year?” However, I have always been taught that repetition is the key to learning. In addition, I found this piece interesting as it highlights some alternative frost-seeding methods from our very own Mr. Wayne Shriver, farm manager of the Eastern Agricultural Research Station in Caldwell, Ohio. I encourage you all to take a look and see what information Wayne and the others have to offer.

When pitchers and catchers are called to Florida and Arizona, it brings the annual rebirth of America’s pastime. It also marks a time when pasture managers need to start frost seeding or begin giving it serious thought. Continue reading

This Winter, Start Planning for Next Year – Soil Health

R.P. “Doc” Cooke
(previously published in BeefProducer: February 13, 2018)

Eight things to remember about soil and livestock health and improvement.

I don’t know about ya’ll but I spend a right smart amount of time planning to do better. I am so well organized that it is often a relief when my flip phone rings so I can find it.

One thing we need to do in the winter is rest up a little and think and plan and visit with other successful grazing beef producers. Most of us could use and profit from soil that is actually growing in organic matter, mineralization, color and depth. Continue reading

Control Winter Weeds for Better Pastures

Lauren Peterson, Hay and Forage Grower summer editorial intern
(Previously featured in Hay & Forage Grower: February 13, 2018)

Gone are the days when warm-season weeds seemingly had a corner on the warm-season pasture market. Producers who typically focus their control efforts on warm-season broadleaf and grass weeds, such as ragweed, broomweed, sandbur, or johnsongrass, may want to broaden their efforts.

Soils and crops consultant of the Noble Research Institute, Eddie Funderburg, explains that cool-season weeds, or those that emerge in the fall and grow throughout the winter and spring, are finding their way into warm-season pastures. Funderburg explains this growing problem and highlighted some of the main culprits in a recent Noble Research Institute News and Views newsletter. Continue reading

Tips for a Successful Lambing Season

Farm and Dairy Staff
(previously published in Farm and Dairy: February 19, 2018)

Make sure your lambs are off to a good start by using “clip, dip, and strip” in your lambing practices. This simple technique, suggested by former Penn State University Extension Educator Michael Fournier, will aid in keeping newborn lambs healthy.

1 – Clip
Clip refers to trimming the umbilical cord. When a lamb is born, it will have an umbilical cord of varying length still attached to the belly, which can be an open highway for bacteria. If the umbilical cord is Continue reading

Livestock Water is Essential, Even in Winter

Ted Wiseman, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Perry County

(Image Source: Catskill Merino Sheep)

Water is essential for all livestock regardless of the time of year. So far this year we have certainly had our share of chopping ice, thawing water lines and troughs. With recent temperatures many of us often focus on keeping livestock well fed and with adequate shelter. However, often times we forget about the most important nutrient which is water. Water consumed by livestock is required for a variety of physiological functions. Some of these include proper digestion, nutrient transportation, enzymatic and chemical reactions, and regulation of body temperature.

Although water is the cheapest nutrient we may purchase or provide, it is the one we provide the most of on a per pound basis. For example, every pound of dry matter consumed, Continue reading

Protect Sheep and Goats with CDT Vaccine

Peggy Coffeen, Dairy/Livestock Editor

This week we have another achieved article resurfacing from just few years ago. In this article, Dr. Eric Gordon, a member of the OSU Sheep Team, outlines the importance of a proper vaccination program. Be sure to check out this quick piece to learn more about the benefits of vaccinating your herd or flock with CDT.

Failing to arm sheep and goats disease protection is a bit like heading into a tackle football game with no helmets or pads. Less protection means greater risk. Vaccines are an important component in suiting up small ruminants to hit the field – or pasture. At minimum, sheep and goats of all ages and stages should be protected from clostridial diseases. Continue reading

Graze on Cool-Season Annuals – Thoughts for your 2018 Grazing Year

Curt Arens, Farm Progress field editor
(previously published in Nebraska Farmer: February 7, 2018)

Oats, barley, triticale, and spring wheat all make for good grazing and hay crops when they are spring-seeded.

For a seed cost of between $25 and $31 per acre, livestock producers can gain valuable grazing days or hay by planting cool-season annuals in the spring or fall. All kinds of annuals can be planted in the spring, according to Nebraska Extension educator emeritus, Dennis Bauer.

Speaking at a Beef Profit Tips meeting in Center, Neb., recently, Bauer said oats, spring triticale, spring beardless barley, Italian or annual ryegrass, field peas, and other legumes all make good grazing or hay options.

Continue reading

Forage News, Frostbite, and Fescue Foot

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Noble County

(Image Source: Dr. David Bohnert, Oregon State University. An example of fescue foot injury on cattle.)

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend the American Forage and Grassland Council Annual Conference with some of our other Ohio Extension Educators. It was a wonderful experience to learn from others and share what we have learned with forage producers and professionals across the country.

Two sessions that I sat in on for the benefit of my local producers were “Managing Clovers in the 21st Century” and “Understanding and Mitigating Fescue Toxicosis.” Continue reading

Management Considerations to Lower Lamb Mortalities

Dr. Bill Shulaw, OSU Extension Veterinarian

Once again, we have dug back into the achieves to provide an article by Dr. Bill Shulaw that outlines management strategies that can be implemented in order to decrease lamb losses associated with improper management and disease control that may be prevalent during the first few weeks of life. Whether you have raised sheep for a year or 50 years, reviewing this article would benefit all shepherds as it outlines simple control and management strategies that can certainly benefit any operation.

There are many factors that affect lamb survival. Serious shepherds should consult the Sheep Production Handbook, produced by the American Sheep Industry Association (www.sheepusa.org), for a more complete discussion of the various conditions and infectious diseases which impact lamb survival. However, Continue reading

Frost Seeding – Making Mother Nature Work for You

Chris Penrose, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Morgan County
Gary Wilson, Retired OSU Extension Educator ANR, Hancock County

(Image Source: On Pasture – Frost Seeding Red Clover in Hay Fields and Pastures)

This is the time of year when farmers will want to think about re-seeding their pasture and hay fields. This method of seeding is called “frost seeding” which is where you apply seed to the ground and the freezing and thawing of the soil in February and early march will provide seed to soil contact allowing germination of the seed. There is a little more risk of the seed not germinating than with a “traditional” seeding, but the cost and time is a lot less.

The secret is to have exposed soil. If you have exposed soil, even in your yard, simply sprinkle seed on the soil and let the frosts work it in. If the ground is thawed, you can Continue reading

Do Sheep and Goats get Cold?

Erika Lyon, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Jefferson and Harrison Counties

(Image Source: Our Ohio Magazine, Ohio Farm Bureau – Meating of the Minds)

During this time of year, the hills of eastern Ohio are covered in snow, frozen waterfalls, and massive icicles. Most of us enjoy spending these cold winter days indoors next to the fireplace or with the furnace working overtime. So with their thick wool coats, are sheep actually keeping as warm as you think? What about goats that do not have those nice thick coats? Are they just used to the cold? During the winter, extreme temperatures, precipitation and wind can create Continue reading

Moving Forward with Clovers

Mike Rankin, Hay and Forage Grower managing editor
(previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: January 23, 2018)

(Image Source: Mike Rankin, Hay and Forage Grower)

In the various humid regions across the United States, clover species bring a commonality to the miles of separation. Their adaptability to a variety of soils and growing conditions makes them a foundational component in many forage systems. Yet, most forage experts would say that they remain vastly unappreciated and underutilized.

But are they? Continue reading

Five Pasture Improvements to Begin in January

Dean Kreager, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Licking County
(previously published in Farm and Dairy, January 4, 2018)

New Year’s Day has come and gone, as have some of our New Year’s resolutions: eat less junk food, go to the gym more often, lose weight, and the list goes on.

I hope our pasture management goals for the year last longer. As I contemplate the projects I have completed and those that are still on the list for another year, I think about how I can get more production from my pasture or how I can feed more animals on the same amount of land.

Today, I will stick with the “5 Things” theme in this issue and will touch on five areas of pasture management you can Continue reading

Can Producers Make their Ewes Lamb During the Day?

Kathy Voth, ‘On Pasture’ Editor and Contributor
(previously published in On Pasture, January 18, 2018)

How to make lambing, kidding, and calving happen during daylight hours?

Here’s a way to make your upcoming calving, lambing and kidding season a little less stressful: feed your pregnant stock every evening, right around dusk. They’ll spend the night ruminating and wait to give birth until morning.

That’s the advice shared in this video (included below) by Glenn Selk, Oklahoma State University (OSU) Extension Cattle Specialist. The “Konefal Method” is named after a Canadian rancher, Gus Konefal, who discovered that changing his feeding time led to more calves being born during daylight hours. Researchers at the Kansas State Experiment Station followed up with a five year study to give us all a better idea of what we could expect from a change to evening feeding.

Their results are similar to other studies. Continue reading

Mastitis: An Issue Not to be Taken Lightly

Michele Marques, PhD student from the Animal Bioscience Program, Federal Rural University of Pernambuco – Brazil
Guilherme Moura, PhD student from the Animal Bioscience Program, Federal Rural University of Pernambuco – Brazil
Luciana da Costa, DVM, MSc, PhD, OSU Assitant Professor, Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine (da-costa.2@osu.edu)

Mastitis in Small Ruminants:

What is mastitis?
Mastitis in goats and sheep, similar to cows, is defined as inflammation of the mammary gland and can occurs due several factors, which may be infectious or not and may present in clinical or subclinical form. In clinical mastitis, it is possible to observe the signs of inflammation, such as: Continue reading

2018 Southeast Ohio Sheep & Goat School

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Noble County

The Ohio State University Eastern Agricultural Research Station will host the 2018 Southeast Ohio Sheep and Goat School beginning February 15, 2018. This six session series will span from February to November featuring presentations by state specialists and regional experts. From “Sheep & Goats 101” to “Finishing”, there is sure to be something for every sheep and goat producer’s interest. Most classes will run from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. and be held at the The Ohio State University Eastern Agricultural Research Station (EARS):

16870 Twp. Rd. 126 Caldwell, Ohio 43724

A meal will be included. The cost for the course is $100 for all six sessions or $25 per session. Registration is requested by February 1, 2018. For more details, please check out the attached flyer.

Any further questions should be directed to Christine Gelley at Noble County Extension (740) 732-5681 or gelley.2@osu.edu.

How can Delayed Weaning Benefit your Operation?

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

At what age do you wean your lambs? This is a question that I have asked producers many times. I have heard ages ranging from 35-130 days of age with the most common answer being 60 days of age. This is the most common weaning age for producers in the eastern United States. When I ask producers why they wean their lambs at 60 days of age or younger, most respond with “that’s the way we have always done it here on the farm, so why change now?”

From a researcher’s perspective, this is not a valid answer. Weaning before the natural weaning age (between 100-180 days of age depending upon sheep breed) is stressful. Weaning stress can lead to decreases in animal performance as demonstrated by decreased weight gain. Weaning stress can also result in decreased animal health as shown by decreases in immune system function that can lead to an increased susceptibility to disease and infection. However, if we were Continue reading

Should I Add More Legumes to My Pasture?

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Noble County

At a glance:

Including legumes in grass pastures has the potential to increase the overall nutritive value of the pasture and decrease the need for supplemental nitrogen fertilizer. Read on to find out if you should add more legumes to your pasture.

What is so special about legumes?

There is something special about legumes that sets them apart from our other forages. They have the ability to foster mutually beneficial relationships with soil bacteria that convert organic nitrogen, which is an unavailable form for plants to utilize, into inorganic nitrogen, making it available for plant uptake. The bacteria Continue reading

What Accounts for Variability in Grain Protein Levels in Corn?

Alexander Lindsey, OSU Assistant Professor, Horticulture and Crop Science
Stan Smith, OSU Extension Program Assistant, Fairfield County
Peter Thomison, OSU Extension, Corn Specialist
(previously published in the C.O.R.N. Newsletter 2018-01)

(Image Source: C.O.R.N. Newsletter)

We’ve recently heard comments and questions concerning the varying levels of grain protein levels being found in shelled corn. Some feed companies have reported seeing many samples in the upper 6% and lower 7% protein range this year but there are reports of levels that are nearly 9%. Some feed mill operations are using 7% as the default value based on this year and last year’s levels. However, in the past, higher grain protein levels (% +2) have been cited for corn. Are the reports of low levels in 2016 and 2017 an anomaly? What could be accounting for these varying protein levels in corn?

Environmental conditions (esp. those affecting soil moisture), cultural practices (nitrogen fertilization, plant population, drainage) and hybrids genetics all influence grain protein. Production factors and favorable growing conditions that Continue reading

2017 Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium Presentations

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

As requested by popular demand, below is a listing of the presentations from the 2017 Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium. Presentations from the two day event can be viewed in PDF format by simply clicking on the title of the presentation. For those that have further questions on the presentations themselves, feel free to email me at: campbell.1279@osu.edu and I will help address your questions. Continue reading

Hay Testing for Efficient Winter Feeding

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Educator, Noble County

As the new year begins, most Ohio graziers are probably feeding a good portion of hay as a part of their animals’ daily ration. Even if there is a supply of stockpiled forage available, we tend to make hay available just in case they need a little extra. It is likely that grain is also part of that daily ration. Well, how do you know how much hay, grain, and pasture they need? No one wants to leave their animals hungry. In addition, we do not want to waste time or money with unnecessary feeding. Figuring out the balance can seem like a guessing game, but the place to start is with a hay test.

Testing the hay you are feeding is well worth the price of sample analysis. Collecting a sample is not complicated and typically, results are available Continue reading

How do Finishing Diet Combinations Affect Lamb Performance and Tissue Growth?

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

For those shepherds in the state of Ohio that retain their lambs and finish to a market weight, a high concentrate finishing diet is commonly used. High concentrate diets are favored by producers as these types of diets allow producers to raise their lambs indoors away from predators, at a low cost when grain prices are low, and allow their lambs to reach a market ready weight at an earlier time point when compared to forage fed lambs. However, in today’s market, the production of grass-fed meat products receives a premium. Therefore, in order to capitalize on these premiums, some producers may choose to produce grass fed or pasture raised lamb.

When switching to alternative backgrounding and finishing diets, it is important to understand Continue reading

Best Bets for Frost Seeding

Hay and Forage Grower
(previously published in Hay and Forage Grower, January 2, 2018)

(Image Source: Hay and Forage Grower)

Broadcast seeding in late winter, or frost seeding, is a
widely used strategy to bolster pasture productivity or add new species to the forage mix.

Though not as reliable as seeding with a drill, frost seeding has still been proven as effective and budget friendly. Its success is contingent upon freeze-thaw cycles that enhance seed-soil contact.

“Species for successful frost seeding into pastures need to have Continue reading

Let Forages Guide Grazing Management

Dan Lima
(Previously published in Farm and Dairy, December 21, 2017)

Pasture fields, unlike many annual crop fields, are typically comprised of multiple species of grasses, legumes, and forbs.

Some might even consider the word “forbs” and “weeds” to be interchangeable. Either way, pasture growth will usually translate to livestock gain when properly managed.

Chemical analysis for weedy forbs like redroot pigweed, lambsquarter, ragweed, dandelion, white cockle, and even immature Jerusalem artichoke have a comparative nutritional value to