Indoor Housing Systems for Sheep and Goats

Dr. Brady Campbell, Assistant Professor, State Small Ruminant Extension Specialist

“What type of barn do I need to raise XXX ewes/does indoors?” This question and many others similar to it have been common place over the past year and for good reason. Take a look at the market price for any type of sheep or goat on the auction block today. Feeder lambs, fat lambs, and finished kids are bringing record prices and have continued to sustain these values well beyond the holiday season. These unique opportunities present our industry with some interesting challenges as higher feeder lamb prices make it difficult to buy and feed lambs for the finished market. It also makes it difficult to hold onto a group of replacement females when you could capitalize on the profits of the slaughter market. Additionally, cull ewes prices are up which makes culling this year easier than ever. However, what hasn’t been immediately considered is the effect of culling a large number of ewes. My question is – will this decision further complicate supply chain issues in the near future? With this background, its no wonder why my leading question is of great interest to producers from across the nation. Raising small ruminants indoors improves overall animal management, thus leading to improved efficiency resulting in more lambs and kids available for market. Continue reading

Winter Management Timeline and Strategies for Sheep and Goats

Presented by the University of Idaho and Utah State University, this 2-hour webinar covers management strategies for sheep and goats both pre- and post parturition. Understanding that 2-hours can be a chunk of time to view all this information, the presenters have provided excellent slide titles that allow for producers to seek out the information that they are specifically in need of. Whether you raise, sheep, goats, or both, this complete and comprehensive presentation is well worth the investment of time. Enjoy!

Reduce Labor at Lambing Time

Supported by the American Sheep Industry Let’s Grow Program, instructors from Pipestone Lamb and Wool Program provide their insight on identifying keys factors that may reduce labor during the lambing season. Labor saving suggestions revolve around watering, feeding, and bedding systems in addition to barn layouts to improve animal flow throughout the system.

Lambing and Kidding Emergencies

Haley Zynda, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Wayne County

Dystocia, weak lambs and kids, hypothermia (if you have the pleasure of lambing in January and February like we do in the Midwest), and agalactia all classify as lambing and kidding emergencies in my book and probably yours, too. With lambing season perhaps already started for some and right around the corner for others, it’s time to prepare for the “lamb-pede” soon to hit your barns.

Dystocia is the issue producers are most likely concerned about. If unattended, dystocia can result in dead lambs, and in the worst cases, dead ewes. Dystocia can present in a variety of ways, especially if the mother is carrying twins like we so hope she does! My counterpart in Delaware County, Jacci Smith, has a great video of demonstrations on how to handle different dystocia presentations, and can be found on YouTube titled “Lambing and Kidding Simulators” on the OSU Extension Delaware County page. Jacci created Continue reading

Winter Management Tips for Sheep and Goats

Michael Metzger, Michigan State University Extension Educator
(Previously published on MSU Extension, Sheep & Goat: December 14, 2018 and December 19, 2018)

As cold weather approaches, it is important to consider the comfort of the sheep and goats we care for.

Winter can be a stressful time for livestock. As owners, we need to help to reduce that stress by providing proper care, feeding, and management practices. Adjusting management practices will help to ensure that sheep under your care will thrive through the cold winter months.

Sheep should be given some kind of shelter even if it is just a tree line or wind block. Shelters can include barns or three sided shed. Shelters should have adequate ventilation so that moisture does not build up and cause respiratory problems for the sheep. Hair sheep and wool breeds that have been recently shorn require more shelter than animals with longer wool. Ewes that are lambing during the cold winter months should be housed in a barn and check regularly. Newborns must be dried quickly after birth as hypothermia can set in quickly. Avoid damp, dark, or drafty barns, and wet muddy areas in or around buildings. Young lambs are able to withstand cold temperatures quite well, but drafts and dampness can lead to losses from baby lamb pneumonia. Heat lamps can be used to help keep lambs warm, although care must be taken to prevent electrocutions and/or barn fires.

Sheep require Continue reading

Valuing Bedded-pack Manure

Glen Arnold, OSU Extension Manure Nutrient Management Specialist, The Ohio State University

(Image Source: Ohio’s Country Journal)

Due to the increase in fertilizer prices, there is renewed interest in the nutrient value of manure. This article will discuss bedded-pack manures that involve straw, sawdust, or wood chips to absorb moisture. The nutrients and organic matter in pen-pack manure are an excellent addition to farm fields.

The most common types of bedded manure are beef, dairy, and sheep or goats. Small ruminant bedded pack manure contains the most nutrients per ton followed by beef manure and dairy manure.

Pen-pack manure contains the macro nutrients nitrogen, phosphorus, and potash along with a host of micronutrients. The nutrient content can vary depending on species, feed products fed, and the amounts of straw or sawdust used for bedding. The farm’s manure handling and storage practices also impact the nutrient content of manure. Manure stored under roof will Continue reading

Lactation Preparations for Small Ruminants

With many producers in the state of Ohio 4-8 weeks away from the beginning of their lambing or kidding seasons, we thought it would be timely to discuss the process of evaluating sound udders and how to prepare your stock for lactation. In Webinar #1 of the 2021 OSU Small Ruminant Webinar Series, Brady Campbell presented on the importance of colostrum and milk production. This ten minute segment focuses on preparing and managing females for the highly demanding time of lactation including nutrition and health management to ensure lambs and kids are off to the best start possible.

Forage Focus: Holiday Leftovers for Livestock

In this episode of Forage Focus, host Christine Gelley reviews how to use holiday leftovers for livestock. From food scraps to greenery, there are right ways and wrong ways to recycle parts of your holiday celebrations for the benefit of the animals in your care. Learn more about items that could be safety shared with pastured livestock and companion animals as treats and habitat enrichment.