Sheep Mineral Nutrition

With pastures full of lush, green forage, depending upon the quality and quantity of forage available, producers tend to discount the need for supplementation when managing ewes and does before the next breeding cycle. Unfortunately, with this being said, the importance of a complete mineral program is often forgotten. Join Dr. Francis Fluharty, current Department Head and Professor at the University of Georgia and emeritus professor in the Department of Animal Sciences at The Ohio State University as he reviews the basic principles and importance of providing a comprehensive mineral program on a yearly basis within our small ruminant systems.

Feed Processing, Digestive Upset, and Observations During Feeding

During the 2020 Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium, Dr. Francis Fluharty from the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at the University of Georgia and Emeritus Professor in the Department of Animal Sciences at The Ohio State University addressed how to manage your feeding regimen, including feed processing, digestive upset, and observing animal behavior. Dr. Fluharty further discusses which feed sources should to be processed and those that don’t. With the price of corn and hay in the market today, trust me, this 30 minute discussion will be well worth your time. Let the spring feeding begin!

Nutrition and Feeding Systems for Lamb Finishing

Christoph Wand – Beef Cattle, Sheep and Goat Nutritionist/OMAF
(Previously published on Ontario, Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs: August, 2014)

The purpose of market lamb feeding is to cost-effectively produce a product of marketable quality and quantity. Keeping this objective in mind will help you make good business and animal management decisions.

The rumen, the largest of the four stomach compartments in ruminant animals, is a fermentation organ, not an acidic stomach. This means digestion depends on the microbes that live inside the rumen. Maintaining the health of this environment is therefore critically important when you are finishing lambs.

Nutrients
Sheep and lambs need several nutrients and nutrient classes for optimum growth. They are listed below in order of importance. Continue reading

2021 Small Ruminant Webinar Series: Nutrition with Dr. Relling – Fiber Sources for Gestating Ewes

In Webinar #2 of the 2021 OSU Small Ruminant Webinar Series, Dr. Alejandro Relling reviews the objectives and methods of an ongoing research project evaluating alternative fiber sources for gestating ewes. For those interested in following the remainder of our 2021 OSU Small Ruminant Webinar Series, be sure to register here.

2021 Small Ruminant Webinar Series: Nutrition with Dr. Relling – Fiber Sources for Growing Lambs

In Webinar #2 of the 2021 OSU Small Ruminant Webinar Series, Dr. Alejandro Relling reviews the objectives and methods of an ongoing research project evaluating alternative fiber sources for growing lambs. As forage prices increase, alternative sources of fiber may be considered for lamb finishing diets as a means to decrease the cost of production. For those interested in following the remainder of our 2021 OSU Small Ruminant Webinar Series, be sure to register here.

Critical Nutrition Inputs for Ewe Nutrition

Dr. Dan Morrical, Extension Sheep Specialist, Iowa State University
(Excerpt previously published during the 2017 Virginia Shepherd’s Symposium)

Introduction:
Sheep nutrition and feeding is extremely critical to the success or failure of the ewe flock enterprise. As shepherds our task is to provide balanced rations to meet the ewe’s nutrient requirements on the least costly basis. Feed costs account for half the cost of producing lamb and wool. Therefore, cost control must always be foremost in the shepherd’s mind. Sheep enterprises face a greater challenge in meeting needs of the flock because of the large within flock and between flock variations. This paper reflects the general guidelines for feeding ewes; however, each operation must adapt and modify these guidelines for their specific operation.

Nutrient Requirements:
The amount of nutrients the sheep require is affected by several factors. These include ewe age and weight along with Continue reading

Supplement Energy to Ewes in Late Gestation

Dr. Benjamin Wenner, Assistant Professor, Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University

As we approach the winter lambing season in Ohio, producers have a variety of approaches to feeding pregnant ewes. Those who believe underfeeding their ewe will decrease fetal size are partially correct (as addressed in the ASIA Sheep Production Handbook, 2002), but the likelihood of decreasing dystocia with underfeeding is nearly nil. In a 2007 review of lambing data, late gestation energy supplementation could account for increasing fetal weight by roughly ½ lb. (Gardner et al., 2007). Certainly, there are many other factors leading to dystocia that deserve consideration before a ½ lb. increase in lamb birth weight garners attention. Twinning alone can reduce birth weights (despite increasing ewe conceptus weight and energy requirement) and thus practices to achieve greater fertility in your breeding flock are a wiser pursuit than trying to nutritionally limit birth weights during gestation. Continue reading

Watch Vomitoxin Levels in Feed

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

High vomitoxin levels are leading to the rejection of some corn at grain elevators this year. Vomitoxin detected in corn so far is enough that at some elevators, trucks are not permitted to leave scales until a vomitoxin quick test is completed. One central Ohio elevator has been rejecting corn at 5 ppm, with estimates of 10% of corn being rejected this season. The average level of vomitoxin in corn passing through central Ohio elevators is estimated at 2 ppm. What exactly does this mean for livestock owners who use this corn as a source of feed?

Vomitoxin, or deoxynivalenol (DON), is a secondary metabolite or mycotoxin produced by Fusarium molds that can cause health and productivity issues in livestock. The common source of DON in corn is the species F. graminearum, which is also occurs in other small grains such as wheat, barley and oats. Some livestock species, such as swine, are more sensitive to DON, while ruminants can typically transform the toxin into a less toxic product as it passes through their digestive tract (due to their rumen microbes). However, age and Continue reading

Nutrition for Lambing

Shelby Filley, Oregon State University, Regional Livestock and Forage
(Previously published on the Oregon State University Extension page: April, 2018)

Do you have your ewes nutritionally prepared for lambing and lactation? If not, that’s okay! There is still plenty of time to get this important task accomplished. Learn to put a nutrition plan in place early in the season so you can decrease problems with your ewes later.

Two phases of the ewe’s biological cycle need special dietary consideration when it comes to lambing:

  • The first phase is the last four to six weeks of pregnancy, when 70% of fetal lamb growth occurs. In this late gestation period, ewes require significantly more dietary energy and protein than earlier in pregnancy. A good plane of nutrition here will help ensure that strong, healthy lambs are more easily delivered and have a good start in life. Ewes in poor nutritional condition are more susceptible to pregnancy toxemia, and may have weaker, lighter birth weight lambs to the point that lamb survival rate drops.
  • The second phase of the ewe’s biological cycle for nutritional consideration is during lactation, especially during the first six to eight weeks after lambing when milk production is high. This is the time when the ewe has the greatest nutrient requirements for energy and protein.

Continue reading

Nutritional Requirements of Sheep: Minerals and Vitamins

Dr. David G. Pugh, DVM, MS, MAg, DACT, DACVN, DACVM, Auburn University
(Previously published online with the Merck Manual – Veterinary Manual: January, 2014)

Minerals:
Sheep require the major minerals sodium, chlorine, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sulfur, potassium, and trace minerals, including cobalt, copper, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, zinc, and selenium. Trace mineralized salt provides an economical way to prevent deficiencies of sodium, chlorine, iodine, manganese, cobalt, copper, iron, and zinc. Selenium should be included in rations, mineral mixtures, or other supplements in deficient areas. Sheep diets usually contain sufficient potassium, iron, magnesium, sulfur, and manganese. Of the trace minerals, iodine, cobalt, and copper status in ewes are best assessed via analysis of liver biopsy tissue. Zinc adequacy can be assessed from the careful collection of nonhemolyzed blood placed in trace element–free collection tubes. Selenium status is easily assessed by collection of whole, preferably heparinized, blood.

Salt:
In the USA, except on certain alkaline areas of the western range and along the seacoast, sheep should be provided with Continue reading

ASI Feature: Proper Feeding of Ewes During Breeding and Pregnancy

As we prepare for the breeding season, it is important to consider the Body Condition Score of your flock as well as their nutritional needs before, during, and after breeding. Feeding for the breeding season doesn’t stop once the ewes are bred. It is important to provide gestating ewes with an optimum feeding regiment, whether that be in the form of grain, pasture, or a combination of both to ensure a successful breeding season.