Iodine Deficiency in Small Ruminants

Lucienne Downs, New South Wales Government District Veterinarian, Central Tablelands Local Land Services
(Previously published online with New South Wales Government Local Land Services)

A severe deficiency of iodine causes a lack of essential thyroid hormone production and the thyroid gland enlarges. The enlarged thyroid gland is called goiter. The swelling occurs in the throat area and can be as large as an orange. Goiter is mainly a disease of lambs and kids, it rarely occurs in calves. Goats have a higher requirement for iodine than other livestock.

Causes of Iodine Deficiency

  • It mostly occurs due to insufficient intake of iodine from the pasture.
  • Iodine deficiency may also be caused by goitrogens – substances within the feed which inhibit the utilization of dietary iodine. Goitrogens have been detected in some legumes and forage crops, but are considered unlikely to be a significant cause of goiter.

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Nutrient Value of Wheat Straw

Dr. Laura Lindsey, Associate Professor, Soybean and Small Grains Specialist
Lee Beers, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Trumbull County
Ed Lentz, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Handcock County

Before removing straw from the field, it’s important farmers understand the nutrient value. This is especially important now with high N, P, and K fertilizer prices. The nutrient value of wheat straw is influenced by several factors including weather, variety, and cultural practices. Thus, the most accurate values require sending a sample of the straw to an analytical laboratory. However, “book values” can be used to estimate the nutrient values of wheat straw. In previous newsletters, we reported that typically a ton of wheat straw would provide approximately 11 pounds of N, 3 pounds of P2O5, and 20 pounds of K2O. According to June 2022 fertilizer prices and nutrient removal “book values”, one ton of wheat straw would remove N, P, K valuing approximately $30.31. Continue reading

How Do Sulfates in Water Affect Livestock Health?

Robin Salverson, South Dakota State University Extension Cow/Calf Field Specialist
(Previously published with South Dakota State University Extension: November 18, 2021)

Water sources that are often assumed to be safe, such as spring fed reservoirs and clear appearing water, can still be high in salts/sulfates. The visual appearance of water should not be used to determine if the water is good or bad. The only way to know if water is suitable for livestock is through testing.

Health Considerations
Poor-quality water will cause an animal to drink less. As a result, they also consume less forage and feed, which leads to weight loss, decreased milk production, and lower fertility.

Sporadic cases of polio can be Continue reading

Reading Your Feed and Forage Analysis Reports

Anita Heeg, Feed Ingredients and Byproducts Specialist, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs
(Previously published online in Progressive Forage: February, 28, 2022)

Over the last 25 years, animal production has improved significantly to have more milk and meat production per animal. To support our ability to feed and manage modern animals, technology to better analyze feed ingredients has also changed to keep up with production.

Feeds are more thoroughly analyzed today than they were before, allowing feeds to be utilized to their full potential. Although the layout of reports may be different between laboratories, the various parameters required for nutritionists are included in most feed analysis reports. In the subsequent paragraphs, I will describe the type of information found in a feed analysis and what it means.

Every report will include the dry matter of the feedstuff. The reason for obtaining the dry matter is because moisture dilutes the concentrations of the nutrients present, and it is standard practice to evaluate the feed and balance rations using a dry matter basis.

Crude protein (CP) is a term well-known among producers and is calculated based on the nitrogen content of the feedstuff. Without looking at the type of protein it is made up of, it doesn’t tell us more than Continue reading

Feeding Small Ruminants Based on Age and Stage of Production

In times of economic stress, reducing feed costs through least cost formulations or improving current feeding regiments will greatly benefit the success of your operation. For those looking to improve their nutritional program, Philip Berg with the Pipestone sheep management program reviews the energy and protein requirements of ewes during various stages of production. Philip also reviews alternative feeding strategies that may allow for you to capitalize on the benefits of your current system or point out areas in which could use some improvement. There is something for everyone to learn in this piece – enjoy!

Importance of Nutrition Management to Avoid Acidosis

Jeff Held, South Dakota State University Sheep Extension Specialist
(Previously published online with South Dakota State University Extension: November 18, 2021)

As lambing continues and we begin to introduce lambs to feed, keeping a watchful eye over the flock will be critical for feeding success. For those that have experienced acidosis you know that it can happen in a blink of an eye. Once visual signs are noted its often too late for corrective treatment. With the current prices of lambs in todays market, we can not afford to lose any lambs due to mismanagement. Whether you have fed lambs for 50 years or never before, this quick read from Jeff Held with South Dakota State University will be well worth the read as it could save a lamb or two. Enjoy!

About Acidosis
Acidosis (also known as lactic acidosis, grain overload, over-eating or grain poisoning) is a metabolic condition that most commonly occurs with lambs offered grain based diets, but can affect mature sheep. Over-consumption of grain causes excess production of lactic acid in the rumen resulting in pH levels falling below the threshold to maintain microbial bacteria populations and normal rumen function. Since acidosis is not an infectious or contagious disease, it is one of the easier conditions to control since it is dependent on nutrition management decisions.

Causes and Symptoms
Nutrition management related to starch intake from feed grains is the primary cause of Continue reading

Winter Feeding Guidelines for Sheep and Goats

Rory Lewandowski, Retired OSU Extension Educator ANR

The number of sheep and goats, especially sheep, has grown in recent years in Ohio. Several of these flocks and herds are pasture-based enterprises and the sheep and goats have limited access to an indoor barn or shed. Both sheep and goats are capable of adjusting to winter temperatures by maintaining a wool fleece or growing a thick, insulating hair coat in the case of goats and hair sheep. In fact, these animals most often prefer to be outside on a winter day, even if they have access to a barn or shed. The caveat to this statement is that the ration must meet the nutritional requirements balanced to the production stage. The energy content of the ration must increase when winter weather results in a temperature condition below the animal’s lower critical temperature. In addition, animals should have access to a shelter to protect from winter winds and resulting wind chill and hair coat animals should have access to protection from rain/sleet, or wet snow events.

Sheep and goats, like all livestock, have a temperature range in which the animal is most comfortable, and provides optimum conditions for body maintenance, and health. The lower boundary of that temperature range is termed the lower critical temperature (LCT). That LCT is dependent upon the animals insulating hair coat and weather conditions. When weather conditions result in temperatures below the LCT, the animal’s metabolism must Continue reading

Water Effects on Livestock Performance

Mark Landefeld, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Monroe County
Jeff Bettinger, Lead District Conservationist, Natural Resources Conservation Service

Limitation of water intake reduces animal performance quicker and more dramatically than any other nutrient deficiency (Boyles). Water constitutes approximately 60% – 70% of an animal’s live weight and consuming water is more important than consuming food (Faries, Sweeten & Reagor, 1997). Domesticated animals can live about 60 days without food but only about 7 days without water. Livestock should be given all the water they can drink because animals that do not drink enough water may suffer stress or dehydration.

Signs of dehydration or lack of water are tightening of the skin, loss of weight and drying of mucous membranes and eyes. Stress accompanying lack of water intake may need special considerations. Newly arrived animals may refuse water at first due to differences in palatability. One should allow them to become accustomed to a new water supply by mixing water from old and new sources. If this is not possible, then intake should be monitored to be sure no signs of dehydration occur until animals show adjustment to the new water source.

Water requirements are influenced by physiological and environmental conditions Continue reading

Optimizing Reproductive Efficiency in Sheep Production with Strategic Nutritional Management

This hour long webinar seems to be quite timely both due to the fact that fall breeding is well under way across the nation as well as many here in the Midwest are fully emerged in fall lambing. Nutrition is key when discussing the benefits and hardships of livestock production. For those that will be joining us for Ohio Sheep Day this Saturday, October 2, I encourage you to take some time to listen to Dr. Richard Ehrhardt as he discusses how to maximize nutritional management to improve reproductive efficiency. At Ohio Sheep Day, we will be discussing alternative forage and feeding options that can be implemented on farm to achieve these needs. We look forward to seeing you then!

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!