Common Hazards Associated with Sheep and Goat Feed

Chalise Brown, University of Florida Extension
Diwakar Vyas, Research Assistant Professor, Ruminant Nutrition, University of Florida/IFAS Department of Animal Sciences
Jason M. Scheffler, research assistant professor of muscle biology, University of Florida/IFAS Department of Animal Sciences
(Previously published online with the University of Florida IFAS Extension: December 22, 2020)

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was signed into law in January of 2011. FSMA attempts to shift the focus of food safety from reacting to foodborne outbreaks to preventing them from occurring. The law stipulates that complying facilities that manufacture, process, pack, or hold food (hereafter referred to as feed) or feed ingredients for animals must implement Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls, or HARPC (FDA 2018a; Scheffler and Carr 2016). Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls have similarities to the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) that are commonly used in foods for humans, such as meat, seafood, and juice, but may be unfamiliar to facilities producing feed for livestock. For more information on compliance requirements and the general structure of an animal food safety plan, consult EDIS document AN330, The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Preventive Controls for Animal Food.

The first step in writing a food safety plan is to conduct a hazard analysis. Hazards are divided into Continue reading

Don’t Bet on Wet Hay

Mike Rankin, Hay and Forage Grower Managing Editor
(Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: August 8, 2023)

It seems drought has dominated the agricultural news feed for several years. Extended dry weather can dramatically reduce hay yields, but wet weather or simply baling hay that is too high in moisture can destroy a hay crop.

In a recent University of Nebraska BeefWatch newsletter, Extension Educators Hannah Smith, Ben Beckman, and Connor Biehler outlined some of the concerns and remedies for hay that is too high in moisture.

Top on the list of concerns is hay combustion. When hay is baled above 20% moisture, microbes begin to break down plant tissue, and mold starts to form. This same biological activity creates heat and the possibility of combustion.

“Bale combustion can begin at Continue reading

Will You Have Enough Hay for the Winter?

Chris Penrose, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Morgan County

The early dry weather allowed most of us to get our first cutting hay in a timely manner, and now we are into second-cutting hay. This is the time of the year that I like to remind everyone that it is a great time to assess if you have enough hay for the winter, as well as to consider if there are other things that can be done to assure adequate feed for livestock this winter.

If you are going to have plenty of hay, can you graze some of those hay fields after second cutting? It is always cheaper to graze than to make hay. If you don’t need the fields to graze, can you make some extra to sell if you need the income? If you are short on hay, can you get enough in subsequent cuttings? If not, have you recently soil tested your fields? Improving fertility will help improve yields for the rest of the season.

How are your pastures holding up? So far Continue reading

Options for Short Season Summer Fall Forages

Dr. Mark Sulc, retired OSU Extension Forage Specialist
Dr. Bill Weiss, retired Dairy Nutritionist, The Ohio State University
Jason Hartschuh, OSU Dairy Management and Precision Livestock, Field Specialist

Short-season forages planted in late summer can be sources of highly digestible fiber in ruminant livestock rations. There are several excellent forage options that can be considered for no-till or conventional tillage plantings in the late summer or early fall planting window. These forages can be a planned component of the overall forage production plan. They can be utilized on land that would otherwise sit idle until next spring, such as following wheat or an early corn silage harvest.

Oat or Spring Triticale silage
These cereal forages can be planted for silage beginning the last week of July and into early September. Dry matter yields of 1.5 to 3 tons per acre (about 5 to 5.5 tons at 30 to 35% DM) of chopped silage or Baleage are possible if planted in late July to early August. Harvesting between late boot, or early heading, will optimize quality. Yields will be lower for plantings made in early September, in which case late autumn grazing would be a more viable option. Our research utilizing oats planted on September 1st versus September 15th showed about a one-ton difference in yield. Continue reading

A Pain in the Ash Kind of Year

Mike Rankin, Hay and Forage Grower Managing Editor (Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: June 27, 2023)

Dry weather — to varying degrees — has beset a large swath of the U.S. during the beginning of the 2023 haymaking season. In the Midwest, I have never seen so much first-cutting hay get baled instead of chopped. Further, the hay was baled in a timely manner with quality limited only by the ability to retain leaves.

An extreme lack of rainy days poses a double-edged sword. On the one hand, haymaking is undeterred by weather; on the other, regrowth is restricted by the lack of moisture. Another less obvious downside to dry soil conditions is . . . well . . . dry soil conditions or dust, which more easily finds its way into harvested forage.

It’s well known that the growing environment can impact the quality of forage. Cool temperatures generally are Continue reading

Ruminant Nutrition: Forage Quality

As the old saying goes, “you’ve got to make hay when the sun shines!” Looking at the weather forecast this week, I’ve been told that many forage producers are taking advantage of this long stretch of good weather that is becoming a rarity in May. Therefore, this weeks posting will provide a series of videos that I hope you will be able to watch while waiting in the field or on your lunch break. Remember, as livestock producers, we are chasing forage quality in hopes of reducing the needs for concentrate feeds. This short video provided by Penn State Extension explains the trade off between forage quality and quantity and how these feedstuffs are utilized by the ruminant system. Enjoy and if you are in the field this week, be safe!

Feeding Practices in Sheep

Dr. David G. Pugh, DVM, MS, MAg, DACT, DACVN, DACVM, Auburn University
(Previously published online with the Merck Manual – Veterinary Manual: October, 2022)

Feeding Farm Sheep
Sheep make excellent use of high-quality roughage stored either as hay or low-moisture, grass-legume silage, or occasionally chopped green feed. Good-quality hay or stored forage is a highly productive feed; poor-quality forage, no matter how much is available, is suitable only for maintenance. Hay quality is determined primarily by the following:

  1. its composition, (e.g., a mixture of grasses and legumes such as brome/alfalfa or bluegrass/clover)
  2. the stage of maturity when cut (e.g., the grass before heading and alfalfa before one-tenth bloom)
  3. method and speed of harvesting due to loss of leaf, bleaching by sun, and leaching by rain
  4. spoilage and loss during storage and feeding

In general, the same factors influence the quality of Continue reading

Parturient Paresis in Sheep and Goats (Milk Fever, Hypocalcemia, Lambing Sickness)

By George Fthenakis , DVM, MSc, PhD, DECAR, DECSRHM, University of Thessaly, Greece
(Previously published in the Merck Manual – Veterinary Manual: October, 2022)

Parturient paresis in pregnant and lactating ewes and does is a disturbance of metabolism characterized by acute-onset hypocalcemia and rapid development of hyperexcitability and ataxia, progressing to depression, recumbency, coma, and death. Unlike parturient paresis in dairy cattle, which primarily occurs within a few days of calving, the condition in ewes and does usually occurs before and less commonly after parturition. This condition may be underdiagnosed in some situations.

Etiology of parturient paresis in sheep and goats
Parturient paresis is due to a decrease in calcium intake under conditions of increased calcium requirements, usually during late gestation. This results in a low serum calcium concentration, particularly in animals pregnant with multiple fetuses. Some cases are complicated by concurrent pregnancy toxemia. Ewes that are both hypocalcemic and hyperketonemic may not be able to Continue reading

Feeding Lambs – Frequently Asked Questions

Susan Hosford, Business Development Specialist, Camrose
Dr. Susan Markus, Ag – Info Centre, Alberta Agriculture & Food
(Previously published online by: Alberta Sheep, 2007)

Alberta lambs are typically born sometime between January and May. Depending on the market they will move into, feeding them grain at some point to maximize gain likely can’t be avoided whether it is a creep ration for young lambs, or a growing or finishing ration to grow lambs to market weight.

Many of the premium lamb markets require that lambs be grain finished. Grass finishing is in demand for some specialty markets. With high quality pasture and good health management (de-worming and coccidiosis control) lambs can be finished on pasture, but it is more difficult to manage growth rate, fat finish, and marketing date when finishing lambs on pasture.

Creep feeding is most profitable when lamb prices are high and feed costs are low. However, when pasture conditions are affected by drought, grasshoppers, or overgrazing, creep feeding lambs is used to achieve growth and finish on market lambs. This is particularly needed when the ewes are trying to raise multiple lambs on poor pasture. Three to four weeks after lambing even the best milking ewes begin to produce less milk. To continue to grow lambs need good feed. If pasture is poor or in short supply the creep is used to fill the nutritional needs of the growing lambs. Creep
feeding is also used to manipulate growth when trying to meet a particular market period.

What kind of ration used in the creep and how much of it the lambs consume varies greatly, what are guidelines? Continue reading