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.
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 →
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 →
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.
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 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 →
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.
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 →
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 →
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.
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 →
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.
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 →
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 →
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 →
(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 →
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 →
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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 →
Dr. Cassandra Plummer, DVM, Small Ruminant Veterinarian, Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine
This week we have another article pulled from the archives. Although its original publication date was nearly 10 years ago, this piece does a great job outlining the importance of colostrum. For those that are nearing lambing, be sure to update yourself on the appropriate handling methods regarding the use of donor animal and frozen colostrum.
As we find breeding season winding to a close it is time to start making preparations for lambing season to begin. When preparing for lambing, one thing to consider is your plan for colostrum management. How are you going to get colostrum into your lambs? What if a ewe doesn’t have colostrum? How will you handle orphan lambs or bottle lambs? All of these things need to be considered prior to the start of lambing.
This piece from Dr. Shulaw was previously posted on the web page about 8 years ago. However, it contains a lot of valuable information as many producers here in the state of Ohio transition into the winter lambing season. Check out this article to refresh yourself on the dangers of the starvation/hypothermia complex. Understanding this complex will help you as a producer better prepare yourself for potential issues during this lambing season.
The starvation/hypothermia complex usually comes about when multiple contributing factors are present and not just the simple occurrence of cold weather. Some of these include failure of the ewe to care for the lamb, difficult birth resulting in a weak lamb, bacterial mastitis in the ewe, “hard bag” in the ewe caused by ovine progressive pneumonia (OPP) virus, and several infectious causes of abortions which also may result in live, but weak, lambs. Most producers will be confronted with the occasional hypothermic lamb. Continue reading →
Video credit: Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine
For those that are interested in the basics of parasitic resistance and a quick overview of how to manage parasites on-farm, view the video below. This is a great resource for all producers raising grazing livestock.
Ohio Department of Agriculture (News Release from 8-22-17)
The first confirmed case of epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) was recently confirmed in both white-tailed deer and cattle in Ohio. The virus was diagnosed by the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s (ODA) Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (ADDL).
The positive diagnoses were from a cow from Jefferson County and a wild white-tailed deer buck from Lorain County. The discovery is not unusual, Continue reading →
Dr. Cassandra Plummer, DVM, Small Ruminant Veterinarian, Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine
As we find breeding season winding to a close it is time to start making preparations for lambing season to begin. When preparing for lambing, one thing to consider is your plan for colostrum management. How are you going to get colostrum into your lambs? What if a ewe doesn’t have colostrum? How will you handle orphan lambs or bottle lambs? All of these things need Continue reading →
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.
Dr. Eric Gordon, DVM, The Ohio State University, believes that clostridial diseases are Continue reading →
Green grass is beginning to peek through the brown plant residues on many Ohio pastures. If our weather pattern is typical this spring, we will soon be enjoying warmer, but wetter, weather. Although we will welcome the flush of new forage that this weather will bring, this is the major transmission season for one of the most common of sheep diseases: 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 Continue reading →
Lambing, kidding, and calving seasons are well underway and the typical questions about abortions, calf scours, and other problems have been asked. This week I was asked if I would provide some general guidelines about obtaining help with disease diagnosis.
First of all, getting at least a tentative diagnosis is crucial to formulating appropriate and cost-effective treatment, control, or prevention plans. Sometimes this isn’t easy or simple, but it should start with your local veterinarian. Most veterinarians can provide at least some diagnostic services that might Continue reading →
Clif Little, OSU Extension Educator, Guernsey and Noble Counties
Recent storms downed many trees throughout Ohio and some of these pose a threat to livestock. Poisoning is most common when grazing is scarce, such as periods of dry weather coupled with thunderstorms that down trees during the mid to late summer months.
Listed below are some of the most common poisonous trees found in Ohio pastures. Continue reading →
Roger High, OSU Ohio State Sheep Extension Specialist
While most plants are beneficial, some are hazardous to animal and human life. Ohio has about 100 toxic plants and some of these are responsible for deaths of domestic livestock every year. The number of cases of toxicosis (plant poisoning) in livestock far outweighs those reported for humans. Accurate statistics are not available, but it is estimated that several thousand animals die annually in the U.S. from plant toxicosis.
With houses springing up everywhere in Ohio, the rural/urban interface is dramatically increasing. Many farm neighbors are unfamiliar Continue reading →
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, if a pregnancy is carried to term, most losses occur Continue reading →
The starvation/hypothermia complex usually comes about when multiple contributing factors are present and not just the simple occurrence of cold weather. Some of these include failure of the ewe to care for the lamb, difficult birth resulting in a weak lamb, bacterial mastitis in the ewe, “hard bag” in the ewe caused by Continue reading →
Becky Talley, Sheep Industry News Associate Editor
In February of last year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) officially announced the discovery of a Nor98-like scrapie case in a ewe from a flock in Wyoming. This was the first case of scrapie consistent with Nor98 discovered in the United States.
Since then, four more cases have been discovered that originated from flocks in Colorado, Indiana, Minnesota and California. These cases are not related to either the first one in Wyoming or to each other.