The Beauty of Baleage

Mike Rankin, Hay and Forage Grower managing editor
(Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: September 28, 2021)

Baleage or Failage? When feeding small ruminants, baleage management and quality have to be just right!

Baleage. Can it be fed to small ruminants? Yes, yes it can! For those that are curious about how to implement this feeding strategy into your operation, be sure to check out this quick piece from the folks at Hay & Forage Grower as well as joining us at Ohio Sheep Day this Saturday, October 2! Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.

Somewhere between the territories of making dry hay and chopping haylage is the land of baleage. Its acreage is expanding at a rate that would gain compliments from the former Macedonian king and conqueror of all things land, Alexander the Great. Of course, Alex is no longer with us to offer such kudos or much of anything else, for that matter.

As one prominent beef seedstock producer told me a few years back, “Baleage is a game changer for the beef industry.” But baleage making is not limited to beef production. Dairy producers and many custom harvesters [including those that feed sheep and goats] are also members of the Baleage Fan Club. Continue reading

General Sheep Health and Management

Thomas R. Thedford, Extension Veterinarian, Oklahoma State University
Bill Crutcher, Purebred Flock Manager, Oklahoma State University
Joe Hughes, Extension 4-H Livestock, Oklahoma State University
Gerald Fitch, Extension Sheep Specialist Specialist, Oklahoma State University
(Previously published online with Oklahoma State University Extension: February, 2017)

The key to any successful livestock health and management program is planning. The guidelines in this fact sheet were developed for your use with this concept in mind. All matters concerning disease prevention and diagnosis should involve your veterinarian. If health problems exist, a postmortem examination can be conducted and tissues selected for submittal to a diagnostic laboratory as an aid in securing a diagnosis. The veterinarian can also advise you about specific vaccination programs for your area.

Ram Management Continue reading

How to Detect Poisonous Weeds in Your Pasture

Tony Nye, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Clinton County

(Goat demonstrating signs of cyanide toxicity)

On many livestock operations, pastures are a very important part of the production process. Every year, I get questions regarding weeds that have been found in and around pastures. The common questions include “What kind of weed is this?” and “Is this weed poisonous to my livestock?”

Several plants that were not intended to be in the pasture and hay fields sometimes find their way there. Some of these plants are potentially toxic to livestock and are still toxic after being baled into hay.

The toxic compounds in plants are usually a defense mechanism against predation and have a distinct, unpleasant odor or a bitter taste and are not preferred by grazing livestock.

Consumption of these unpalatable plants will increase under some circumstances, primarily if Continue reading

Feed for Profit: Mineral Supplementation

Dale Engstrom, M.Sc., P.Ag, Alberta, Canada
(Previously published in Sheep Canada Magazine: May 6, 2014)

I am often asked about using free-choice loose and block minerals. Are they needed? Do they do a good job of providing essential nutrients to sheep? Are they cost effective?

Let’s start by reviewing what minerals are. Minerals fit into two classes: major (or macro) minerals and trace (or micro) minerals.

Major minerals are those that are measured in feedstuffs and reported in requirement tables as percentages (parts per hundred). For example: alfalfa hay may contain calcium in the amount of 1.6% of the dry matter, and a mineral supplement may contain 16% calcium.

Trace minerals are measured or required and reported in Continue reading

Grazing Corn Stalks with the Ewe Flock

Dan Morrical, Extension Sheep Specialist, Iowa State University
Joseph Rook, Extension and Agriculture Experiment Station, Michigan State University
(Previously published with MSU College of Veterinary Medicine – Sheep publication: December 10, 2008)

Ewes can utilize corn stalks for most, if not all of their daily nutrients if:

  1. quantities of stalks are adequate
  2. weather conditions allow grazing
  3. fencing is available
  4. weathering causes minimal deterioration of quality
  5. you have enough sheep to fully utilize crop residue.

The major concern with introducing ewes to harvested corn fields is grain overload with rumen acidosis and overeating disease. Acidosis resulting from grain overload can be minimized by gradually introducing ewes to corn stalk fields. When ewes are initially turned into stalk fields they should have restricted daily access of one to two hours on stalks. Offering ewes a small amount (~0.5 lb.) of corn for three to seven days before grazing will also help to minimize problems with grain. Vaccination against Continue reading

Planting Fall Cover Crops

Sarah Noggle, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Paulding County
Rachel Cochran, OSU Water Quality Extension Associate, Paulding County

We are now approaching the time of year to think about planting fall cover crops. Cover crops can serve many purposes, ranging from erosion control to nutrient sequestration. Depending on the type and species of cover crop, benefits range from providing a Nitrogen source, scavenging nutrients to decrease leaching potential, acting as a soil builder, preventing erosion, fighting weeds, acting as a forage, conserving soil moisture, and enhancing wildlife habitats.

Benefits of certain types of cover crops:

Legumes:

  • Can be used as a Nitrogen source due to their ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen into the soil
  • Many have good or excellent forage value, such as many clover species, alfalfa, and winter pea Continue reading

Control of Sheep Pests

Ralph E. Williams, Extension Entomologist, Purdue University
(Previously published online as a white paper with Purdue Extension, Purdue University)

(Image Source: Purdue Extension, Purdue University)

Sheep Keds and Sheep Lice
Sheep Keds
The sheep ked (Melophagus ovinus), often called the sheep “tick”, is a common pest of sheep. It looks somewhat like a tick but is actually a wingless fly, grayish-brown in color and 1/4 inch long. Its entire life cycle is spent on the host, except when accidentally dislodged; and it will readily crawl from one animal to another.

Sheep keds live 6-8 months, during which time the female produces about 15 young at the rate of approximately one a week. Breeding is continuous, although slower in winter; and there are several generations each year. Unlike most insects, the female gives birth to fullgrown maggots, one at a time, which are attached to wool strands about the neck, inside the thighs and along the belly. Within a few hours after birth, the larval skin turns brown and forms a hard puparium. Fully developed keds Continue reading

Minerals and Vitamins for Sheep

Dr. Scott Greiner, Extension Animal Scientist – Sheep, Virginia Tech
Mark L. Wahlberg, Extension Animal Scientist, Virginia Tech
(Previously published on the Virginia Cooperative Extension web page)

(Liebig’s Barrel – Liebig’s Law of the Minimum)

Proper animal nutrition means giving the animals the proper amount of all nutrients necessary for optimum production. This involves knowledge of the nutrients themselves, factors that affect the requirements of animals, and the feeds used to deliver those nutrients. Cost is always a consideration for profit-motivated producers. This interplay of factors can become very intricate, but it need not be.

For the ewe flock, proper nutrition involves giving animals all the good quality forage they want, and supplementing that with nutrients that may be deficient. So the basics of Continue reading

Silage – Part 2: Making More Sense Than Ever for Sheep Production

Richard Ehrhardt, Michigan State University Extension Specialist, Small Ruminants
(Previously published on MSU Extension, Sheep & Goat: May 20, 2015)

Forms of silage
There are primarily two types of silage products fed to sheep: baled silage and precision-cut silage. Baled silage is simply large bales, round or square, baled when the forage is wilted and covered with stretch wrap plastic. As previously mentioned in Silage – Part 1, this means waiting much less than dry hay, only until the forage is around 40-60 percent moisture – under ideal drying conditions, this is often means cutting in the morning and baling at night. Silage makes it possible. Continue reading

USDA Announces Details of Direct Assistance to Farmers through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program

USDA Press
(Previously published on USDA Media Press Release page: May 19, 2020)

Farmers and Ranchers to Receive Direct Support for Losses Related to COVID-19

(Image Source: National Center for Appropriate Technology)

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced details of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), which will provide up to $16 billion in direct payments to deliver relief to America’s farmers and ranchers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to this direct support to farmers and ranchers, USDA’s Farmers to Families Food Box program is partnering with regional and local distributors, whose workforces have been significantly impacted by the closure of many restaurants, hotels, and other food service entities, to purchase $3 billion in fresh produce, dairy, and meat and deliver boxes to Americans in need. Continue reading

Tactics to Win the Battle Against Foot Rot

Richard Ehrhardt, Michigan State University Extension Specialist, Small Ruminants
(Previously published on MSU Extension, Sheep & Goat: January 28, 2020)

This article discusses the difference between foot rot and foot scald and how to prevent and treat it.

Foot rot is arguably the costliest disease in the sheep and goat industry in high rainfall areas of the USA (>30 inches per year) and has contributed greatly to the view that sheep and goat production are labor intensive. Animals become severely lame when infected and cannot graze easily or get to the feed bunk. This results in poor growth, poor conception and greatly increased risk for metabolic diseases such as pregnancy toxemia. Foot rot-free status provides producers options to sell replacement breeding stock for high value. Conditions for successful eradication improve as the soil dries during the summer and early fall. Eradication efforts also require a significant labor investment, so one should be sure to plan for this for the program to succeed. Continue reading

Pasteurella and Mannheimia Pneumonias in Sheep and Goats

Philip R. Scott , BVM&S, MPhil, DVM&S, DSHP, DECBHM, FHEA, FRCVS, University of Edinburgh
(Previously published online with the Merck Manual – Veterinary Manual)

(Image Source: National Animal Disease Information Source)

With the abrupt change in weather we have experienced lately, issues especially with pneumonia are expected to occur. Although you may only experience a case or two on your operation throughout the year, it is important to understand the signs of this disease as well as the preventative measures that you can take in order to avoid or treat the issue when needed.

Bronchopneumonia caused by Pasteurella multocida or Mannheimia haemolytica has a cranioventral lung distribution and affects sheep and goats of all ages worldwide. It can be particularly devastating in young animals around weaning. It is a common cause of morbidity and mortality in

Continue reading