Electric Fencing for Sheep

Gerlad Q. Fitch, Extension Sheep Specialist, Oklahoma State University
(Previously published by Oklahoma State University Extension: February, 2017)

The use of electric fencing for sheep is relatively new in the United States. Several other countries have used electric fencing with great success for several decades now. Electric fencing is more economical than standard barbed wire or hog wire fencing. Electric fencing also allows for temporary fencing to subdivide pastures, which can increase the stocking rate and forage utilization and decrease parasite problems through rotational grazing.

Why has electric fencing not caught on in the United States? The main reason is the past failures producers have experienced due to utilizing poor quality fence chargers and not understanding the basics of electric fencing. The basic principles of fence construction, grounding, and current flow must be understood to ensure correct fence design with minimal maintenance and maximum current flow.

Fence Chargers and Grounding
The major mistake that is made in electric fencing is Continue reading

Tips to Help Prevent Winter Barn Fires

Jason Hartschuh, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Crawford County
(Previously published in Farm and Dairy: November 14, 2019)

(Image Source: Farm and Dairy)

As I dig in the closet to find a few more clothes to stay warm when I go to the barn, it proves winter is rolling in fast and I had better get the barns ready.

Usually, when I think about getting barns ready for winter it is making sure I can keep drafts off the calves. There is one other big thing to think about and inspect as you prepare for winter, are there any fire hazards in your barn?

Heaters
The first fire hazard that comes to mind is the six different barn heaters we run in the winter. During the summer, we shut the gas off to all these heaters to prevent a fire, especially since many of these heaters have a standing pilot light.

When it comes time to Continue reading

Improving Newborn Lamb Survival

Melanie Barkley, Livestock Extension Educator, Penn State Extension
(previously published with Penn State Extension: March 17, 2016)

Livestock market prices are very good right now and I can’t think of a better time to be more concerned about newborn lamb survival.

Even if we are talking about only five lambs, at 75 pounds per lamb and at least $2.00 a pound market value, we are looking at an overall value of $750. This can be even more when we factor in the value of breeding stock. So, let’s look at a few ways we can ensure that lambs survive past birth.

Nutrition plays a critical role in the survivability of lambs both prior to and during lambing. Sufficient nutrient levels are needed for fetal development. This includes growth of the lamb, fat reserves at birth, and vigor once that lamb is born. Nutrition also has an effect on the quality and quantity of colostrum and we all know the importance of lambs receiving colostrum as soon as possible after birth. Ewes should have adequate amounts of feed, feed that provides the correct amount of protein and energy, and a good mineral supplement to keep them healthy and allow them to produce healthy lambs that are adequate in size. Continue reading

The Do’s and Don’ts of Fencing

Regardless of the livestock species you are raising, a well kept fence is key to grazing management success. As many producers push summer grazing to the limits, hungry and curious small ruminants are bound to find problems, or in their case, opportunities to seek more feed. Join OSU Extension Educator Dr. Ted Wiseman as he discusses the key components of a hardy fence.

So Lush, So Green, and Oh So Poisonous

Keith Johnson, Extension Forage Specialist, Purdue University

(Image Source: Over-Boer’D Farm – Japanese Yew removed from a goat at necropsy)

For those that follow agricultural education, Extension, and livestock pages on social media, I am sure that within the last month you have saw a post shared from Over-Boer’D Farm who suddenly lost 39 goats due to Japanese Yew poisoning. With summer in full swing and outdoor household chores on the to-do lists, landscaping is sure to be one of those tasks. As a rule of thumb to avoid health issues with livestock, lawn and flowerbed waste should be composted or thrown out rather than be fed to livestock. This weeks short article comes to us from Keith Johnson, Extension Forage Specialist at Purdue University as he further shares the importance of when in doubt, throw it out. Enjoy!

It’s that time of year when the yew (pronounced like the letter “U”) is likely in need of a trim to look best as a landscaping plant. Yews have been used as a common landscaping shrub or small tree for decades. They have closely Continue reading

USDA Factsheet: Scrapie Animal Identification for Sheep and Goats

United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
Factsheet: December, 2020 / Official ID types for Sheep and Goats

National Scrapie Eradication Program: Animal Identification and Recordkeeping Guide for Sheep and Goats

(Image Source: USDA – Examples of Official USDA Sheep and Goat Scrapie Tags)

Scrapie is a fatal, degenerative disease affecting the central nervous system of sheep and goats. There is no cure or treatment for scrapie. The National Scrapie Eradication Program, coordinated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), has reduced the prevalence of scrapie in adult sheep sampled at slaughter by more than 99%. However, the cooperation of sheep and goat producers is needed to find and eliminate the last few cases in the United States.

Producers are required to follow federal and state regulations for officially identifying their sheep and goats. Producers must also keep herd records, showing what new animals were added and what animals left the herd/flock. This guide helps producers follow the regulations.

How to Get Official Eartags Continue reading

Poisonous Plants to Livestock

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

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

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

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

7 Ways to Maximize Manure as Fertilizer

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

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

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

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

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

2021 Small Ruminant Webinar Series: Commercial Sheep Culling Criteria

In Webinar #3 of the 2021 OSU Small Ruminant Webinar Series, Dalton Huhn, Research Assistant at the OSU Eastern Agricultural Research Station, gives viewers an overview of the culling criteria used to maintain the flock at the research farm.

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

Lamb Creep Area Design

In Webinar #1 of the 2021 OSU Small Ruminant Webinar Series, Tim Barnes presented on the development, design, and importance of providing a creep feed area for young lambs and kids. This is an important management tool that can be used to maximize lamb and kid growth. Location, feeder design, entry gate options, and ventilation are considerations for commercial or purebred flocks. For those interested in following the remainder of our 2021 OSU Small Ruminant Webinar Series, be sure to register here.

Care of Newborn Kids

Dr. U. Karki, Cooperative Extension Program, Tuskegee University
(Previously published with eXtension – Goats: August 14, 2019)

Survival and increased performance of newborn kids significantly improves goat producers’ likelihood of success in the goat industry. The objective of good care and management of newborn kids is to minimize death and enhance health and performance. In most situations, does take care of their kids and minimal attention may be required by owners. Does with good mothering ability — the capability to care and raise kids successfully — and experience clean their kids by licking immediately after kids are born. Does bleat time to time to communicate and get the kids’ attention. Kids in good health and condition stand up, seek teats, and suckle within half an hour or so after birth. These actions of does and kids develop a maternal bond. Early development of a maternal bond is crucial for the survival and growth of newborn kids. Does keep their kids nearby and protect them from other animals in the herd. Does nourish their kids by producing and feeding colostrum and milk. Well-fed does provide sufficient Continue reading