Sheep Water Requirements and Quality Testing

Jaelyn Whaley, South Dakota State University Extension Sheep Field Specialist
(Previously published online with South Dakota State University Extension: February 09, 2024)

Water intake is critical in ensuring animal health, performance and mitigating heat stress. In general, sheep will drink 1.0 to 1.5 gallons of water for every 4 pounds of dry matter (DM) consumed. Sheep need access to fresh, clean water with adequate space to ensure proper intake. Unclean or poor-quality water can negatively affect consumption, subsequently decreasing productivity, health and growth.

Understanding Water Requirements
Water requirements for ewes are listed in Table 1. Actual water consumption will vary with changes in temperature and humidity. Additionally, water requirement changes with stage of production, as pregnant, lactating and ewes raising multiples have the greatest water requirements. It is generally recommended that ewes raising twins or more require double the amount of water to support fetal growth and lactation (NRC, 2007).

Water is considered the most-important nutrient, because of the vast number of biological functions that rely on water. Growth, development and reproduction may be inhibited by not providing enough fluid water to a flock. Continue reading Sheep Water Requirements and Quality Testing

Managing Heat Stress in Sheep and Goats

David Brown, Field Specialist in Livestock, University of Missouri Extension
(Previously published online with the University of Missouri Extension: September 6, 2023)

Many animals die from extreme heat and humidity each year.

“Extreme heat is stressful to livestock, including sheep and goats,” said David Brown, University of Missouri small ruminant specialist. “It is very dangerous if the onset of heat is sudden and animals do not have ample time to adapt.” The heat index gives a more accurate measure of heat stress than temperature alone because it combines temperature and humidity.

“The record-breaking heat has had a direct impact on sheep and goats,” said Brown. “Heat stress affects

Continue reading Managing Heat Stress in Sheep and Goats

The Basics of Vaccinating Sheep and Goats

Rachel L. Gibbs, Graduate Student, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Department of Animal Science
Dustin T. Yates, Associate Professor, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Department of Animal Science
(Previously published online with Nebraska Extension: G2339 · Index: Animal Agriculture, Sheep: January, 2022)

Developing a vaccination program that improves animals’ immunity for common diseases will increase the health, productivity, and value of sheep flocks and goat herds.

Like all livestock, sheep and goats are susceptible to a number of different infectious diseases. Although the risk of an outbreak for any specific disease depends on the time of year, age and location of the herd/flock, and nature of the production system, it is fair to assume that livestock are at constant risk from one or more diseases throughout their lifespan. Thus, developing and implementing a sound vaccination program that best fits their situation and with input from their local veterinarian allows producers to better manage herd/flock health by helping to prevent large outbreaks of infectious diseases that are often expensive and difficult to control. This NebGuide provides producers with fundamental information summarized from extensive research efforts about sheep and goat vaccines, as well as the diseases they help prevent. There is broad variability in production schemes throughout Nebraska, and this article is meant to serve as a reference for developing vaccination programs that are best suited for specific schemes. For more information regarding how vaccines work and the type of immunity they provide, please refer to Understanding Vaccines (G1445) at In addition, local veterinarians can provide guidance for choosing vaccines that are best suited for specific production systems.

When developing a vaccination program, it is essential to consider the questions “which vaccine(s)?,” “which animals?,” and “when?” The answers to these questions are often related to the stage of production. As illustrated in Figure 1, traditional programs typically include vaccinations at three main time points: (1) prior to breeding; (2) prior to or at the time of lambing/kidding; and (3) at weaning (in offspring). Young animals and first-time breeders may require additional doses of certain vaccines for maximum protection. When this is the case, such information will be explicit on the vaccine label.

Figure 1. The three main time points at which vaccines are delivered in typical sheep and goat vaccination programs.

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Start Your Scouting and Preparation for Tick and Fly Season Now

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

(Image Source: Abrar Ul Haq Wani Professor (Assistant) at Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University)

As I write this article, it is ninety degrees outside in the first week of May! It is time to start thinking about how we can keep our grazing animals safe from the various arthropods that can cause medical problems, production losses, and economic impact. We have always made plans for fly control over the summer, but it is time we consider adding tick control into our prevention and treatment plans as well. I wrote an update on Longhorned ticks and Theileria in the March 7th All About Grazing section, “What to watch for with Longhorned Ticks and Theileria in Ohio in 2024” but here is a quick refresher.

As of the beginning of 2024 we had positively identified ALHT in 11 counties in Ohio including Continue reading Start Your Scouting and Preparation for Tick and Fly Season Now

Pneumonia – Sheep And Goats

Australian Livestock Export Corporation Limited
Meat and Livestock Australia
(Previously published online with the LiveCorp and MLA Veterinary Handbook Disease Finder)

(Image Source: Anexa Veterinary Services, NZ)

Pneumonia refers to inflammation of the lungs. It may be accompanied by inflammation of the larger airways (bronchioles) and referred to as bronchopneumonia, or by inflammation of the pleura (outer surface of the lung, adjacent to the chest wall) and referred to as pleuropneumonia. Pneumonia in sheep and goats is often caused by infectious agents, particularly by a combination of bacteria and viruses.

In sheep and goats, the important infectious agents associated with pneumonia include:

  • Viruses – Parainfluenza virus type-3 (PI-3), adenovirus, respiratory syncytial virus and caprine arthritis and encephalitis (CAE) virus (goats).
  • Bacteria – Manehimia haemolytica, Pasteurella multocida, Haemophilus sp., Chlamydia sp., Salmonella sp., and Mycoplasma sp.

Non-infectious causes of pneumonia include Continue reading Pneumonia – Sheep And Goats

Yellow Flowers of Concern

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Noble County

Fields along the floodplain have been turning yellow over the past couple weeks as cressleaf groundsel is bolting and flowering. From a distance, a haze of yellow floats above the field. Upon closer inspection, you will find collections of daisy-like flowers on slender stems waving their sunny faces in the breeze. While it sounds sort of dreamy and whimsical, this plant (also known as butterweed) can cause livestock poisonings in harvested or grazed forages. All parts of the plant are considered toxic in both fresh and dried states.

Cressleaf groundsel is a member of the aster family and displays yellow daisy-like blooms in the springtime on upright hollow stems that have a purple hue. These plants are Continue reading Yellow Flowers of Concern