Multi-Species Grazing as an Alternative to Pasture Spraying

James Doyle, Extension Natural Resource Management Field Specialist, South Dakota State University
(Previously published by South Dakota State University Extension: August 6, 2020)

(Image Source: Rocky Lemus, Progressive Forage)

Broadacre spraying of pastures is intended to reduce undesirable plants and increase grasses for livestock. This practice often results in unintended consequences including damage and reduction of native forbs and reduced profitability. One approach to managing perceived “weedy” plants that can offset those negative outcomes is incorporating different species of livestock into a grazing operation.

All species of livestock have different dietary preferences, and producers can harness this to help manage their plant communities in an ecologically and economically sustainable manner. Small ruminants, in particular sheep and goats, are the most common livestock species that are added alongside a cattle enterprise.

All species of livestock have different preferences when it comes to selecting the species of plants they consume, as demonstrated in the image above.

Continue reading

Spider Syndrome in the Sheep Flock

Gerald Q. Fitch, Extension Sheep Specialist, Oklahoma State University
(Previously published with Oklahoma State University Extension: March, 2017)

(Image Source: Thompson and Dittmer, 2008)

Spider Syndrome is a genetic problem, common in the Suffolk breed and becoming more common in the Hampshire breed. Spider syndrome has been compared to dwarfism in beef cattle. It has been prevalent since the 1950s. Spider syndrome has also been diagnosed in commercial flocks that keep brockle-faced lambs back as replacement ewes. Those ewes are coming from Suffolk or Hampshire rams that carry the syndrome. Researchers feel certain that spider syndrome is caused by a simple, autosomal, recessive gene. If a producer has a flock of carrier ewes and breeds them to a carrier ram, one-fourth of his or her lamb crop could have spider syndrome!!!

Diagnosis
Spider lambs are affected in one of two ways: 1) lambs are abnormal at birth and will probably never be able to stand, or 2) lambs appear normal at birth, but develop into a spider lamb at two weeks to six weeks of age.

Spider lambs usually Continue reading

3 Constituents Beyond Protein and RFV

Rebecca Kern, Animal Scientist, Ward Laboratories Inc.
(Previously published in Progressive Forage: August 4, 2020)

Often, I consult with livestock producers testing forage for their animals. Inevitably there are two numbers on the report they are most concerned with, protein and relative feed value (RFV). Protein is an important value to understand if the forage meets animal requirements, and RFV is a useful index to quickly compare or rank forages.

However, examination of directly measured constituents can help producers understand the characteristics of that forage as it pertains to feeding livestock. So, here are three other constituents to consider when evaluating a forage for livestock feed.

1. Acid detergent fiber (ADF)
This is the least digestible portion of the feed, made up of Continue reading

Small Ruminant Enterprise Budgeting

Susan Schoenian, Sheep & Goat Specialist, University of Maryland Small Ruminant Extension Program
(Previously published on the Maryland Small Ruminant Page)

The following is a short excerpt from Susan Schoenian’s article titled “Economics of Raising Sheep and Goats.” Here, Susan breaks down the basics of a small ruminant enterprise budget. Along with this text, Susan has also provided links to sample budgets at the end of this article that were created at the University of Maryland that focus sheep and goat seedstock (purebred and show wether) production, raising feeder lambs and kids, as well as wool sheep enterprises. Even if you are already a part of one of these businesses, it never hurts to pencil your own operating budget out.

Enterprise budget:
An enterprise budget lists the income and expenses and expected profit (or loss) for a specific agricultural enterprise. It represents one year’s worth of production and expresses profit on a per unit basis. In the case of sheep and goats, profit is expressed per female (ewe or doe). Continue reading

Why are Meat Goats Profitable?

Among our small ruminant enterprises, goats continue to maintain a strong foothold in the marketplace today. Goats, known for their browsing grazing behavior, are beneficial in mixed grazing strategies as they will consume unwanted browse, brush, and weeds that other ruminant species leave behind. In this short presentation, Dr. Reid Redden from Texas A&M highlights these benefits and much more when describing these animals as a value added species to your current operation.

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

Marketing Your Forages

A big shout out to Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Noble County for her help in the development of this weeks newsletter! It takes a team to keep this page active and going. We are certainly thankful to have an amazing group that supports our small ruminant industry! Please enjoy this piece from Christine as she walks us through the process of appraising and marketing our forages.

Opportunities Raising Feeder Lambs

Lyle A. Roe, Sheep and Lamb Marketing Assistant, Equity Cooperative Livestock Sales Association
(Previously published as a Extension white paper: University of Wisconsin)

As with any business, successful sheep operations routinely take time to inventory their resources and opportunities. This information can then be used to make changes (if warranted) in their operation to meet market demands. This may be done in a formal process but is more likely to be a continual process.

The sheep industry is changing. Sheep numbers in most of the United States are decreasing. Many flocks are being dissolved or decreased in size. This is especially true in the western states. One of the resulting effects has been a decrease in the availability of feeder lambs, making it harder for lamb feeders to purchase the number of feeder lambs they need.

This opens up the opportunity for sheep producers in Wisconsin to produce feeder lambs for sale to lamb feeders. Other factors making this possible are: Continue reading

COVID-19 Impact on Ohio Sheep Producers

Tim Barnes, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Marion County

(Image Source: Kunc and Harvest Public Media)

Lambs are just one of the many agricultural commodities that have been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. There is never a good time for a pandemic to strike, but COVID-19 hit the sheep industry at the traditional best market price. Spring lambs are a family favorite for traditional Easter meals (April 12), Orthodox Easter (April 23), the Muslin feasts of Ramadan (April 23 to May 23), some Jewish sects for Passover (April 8-16), and the secular May 10 Mother’s Day celebration.

America’s biggest market for fresh lamb is in the area from Baltimore to Boston. Major East Coast packers relay on the close location of Ohio producers (Ohio has the 5th most producers in the US) to provide a steady source of fresh lamb. The “white tablecloth restaurants” and the other segments of the food service industry account for greater than 50% of the United State’s lamb consumption. As demand builds back to pre-pandemic levels, Ohio lambs will Continue reading

Lamb Management During Poor Marketing Conditions

Shelby Filley, Oregon State University, Regional Livestock and Forage
(Previously published on the Oregon State University Extension page: August, 2019)

Situation and Outlook
Some years the market for feeder and slaughter lamb prices isn’t very strong. Detailed information can be found in market reports. Follow prices on these websites:

By looking at the seasonal price index on feeders and slaughter lambs you can follow past trends in prices. However, there is no indication that these trends will hold true or that there will be any improvement in prices in the immediate future.

Things to Consider
The following information is not a list of recommendations for what you should do, but rather it is a

Continue reading

Ag-note: Vaccinating with CDT

Kelvin Moore, Sade Payne, Elizabeth Spahr, OSU Animal Science Undergraduate Students
Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

CDT Vaccine: When, How, and Why
** Follow the link above to view the Ag-note.

(Image Source: Valleyvet.com)

With all that is happening in our world today,  it may be easy to over look some of the day-to-day management practices on-farm and think that they may be able to wait just a few more days or not at all. As we are aware, the best precautionary steps in avoiding any disease is to vaccinate. Therefore, this week we have decided to re-visit an Ag-note posted a few years back from OSU students Kelvin Moore, Sade Payne, and Elizabeth Spahr to highlight the importance of a sound vaccination program using the CDT vaccine. Continue reading

Minimizing Genetic Defects in Sheep

New Mexico State University Extension
(Previously published on the NMSU Extension web page)

As we dive head first into the 2020 lambing season, be sure to keep a close eye on your lamb crop. I know what you may be thinking, everyone already does this and I hope that is true. Keeping lambs healthy, warm, fed, and alert are key to a successful lambing season. However, you also need to take into account and record any type of defects. As noted below, these defects may not be life threatening, but a defect in the genetics of your flock is not worth the hassle. Once a genetic defect is found, be sure to record this information in your lambing records so you can properly deal with this issue when it comes to culling the appropriate animals from your flock.

Fortunately, sheep have few inherited defects that reduce their survival or producing ability. A discussion of the major genetic defects follows.

Jaw defects
Jaw defects are present in almost all breeds of sheep and are associated with failure of the incisor teeth to properly meet the dental pad. A jaw is

Continue reading

Small Ruminant Housing: Proper Airflow is Important

Chelsea Hill, Livestock/4-H Educator, Penn State Extension
(Previously published on the Penn State Extension web page: December 5, 2018)

(Image Source: Penn State Extension)

When winter and cold weather arrive goats and sheep spend more time indoors. With this change in management comes needed attention to airflow and adequate ventilation of animal housing.

During different parts of the year producers have many creative and practical solutions to animal housing. Living in Pennsylvania, winter is the focal point for producers to pay maximum attention to housing details. During this time is when animals are moved to a more confined housing situation, with limited access to a dry lot for exercise. In consideration of that fact, it’s important to not only consider if there is enough floor space, bunk space, feeding space, and lighting, but also if there will be adequate ventilation. Continue reading

Lamb Industry Requires Further Change, says American Lamb Summit

American Lamb Board
(Previously published in the ASI Weekly Newsletter – September 6, 2019)

Outcomes from the inaugural American Lamb Summit were clear: all segments of the industry need to further improve lamb quality to keep and attract new customers and become more efficient to recapture market share from imported lamb. Yet, it was just as clear that production technologies and product research put industry success within grasp.

“I have never been so enthusiastic about our industry’s opportunities, but we just can’t allow ourselves to be complacent or accept status quo,” said Dale Thorne, American Lamb Board chairman, a sheep producer and feeder from Michigan. Thorne stressed, “the end-game is profitability for all aspects of our industry.” Continue reading

Proper Handling of Livestock Vaccines

Melanie Barkley, Livestock Extension Educator, Penn State Extension
(previously published on the Penn State Extension, Animals and Livestock page)

(Image Source: Susan Schoenian – Sheep 201)

Looking at a group of healthy sheep peacefully grazing while their lambs bounce around the pasture can be a very satisfying experience.

Proper handling of vaccines will help to insure that ewes remain healthy and produce healthy and vigorous lambs.

However, healthy animals don’t just happen, they take time and care. One step to keeping animals healthy involves vaccinating them to protect against disease. In order to accomplish good protection against disease, it is important to handle vaccines properly. Continue reading

What Data are you Collecting? The Value of NSIP in Commercial Production

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

Data collection. Seems pretty simple right? Most of you are probably reading this and thinking, “we already collect data on our flock, what else could he be talking about?” As any good shepherd would do, you are probably recording the basic information such as sex, birth date, birth type, dam, sire, and individual identification on each newborn in your flock. Some of you may even be collecting birth and weaning weights to gather a better understand on the performance of your flock in the short term. However, I will venture to say Continue reading

eShepherd – The Future of Grazing Livestock

Marcus Tainsh, Pesel & Carr (on behalf of Agersens)
Amber Robinson, The Ohio State University
Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

Agersens to work with The Ohio State University to to test eShepherd in the U.S. beef, dairy, and small ruminant industries.

Agersens and The Ohio State University have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that paves the way for the two organizations to implement research trials to determine the efficacy and economics of the eShepherd system for local conditions.

eShepherd is a smart collar system for livestock, enabling producers to create “virtual fences” and use their smart device to remotely fence, move, and monitor their livestock around the clock from anywhere in the world. Continue reading

Scottish Sheep Production Through an American Lens

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

For those of you that followed us on Facebook (OSU Sheep Team) last week, you may have noticed that our postings were a bit different than usual. Over spring break I had the great opportunity to help lead the study abroad trip, Scotland Ruminants. Over the course of our eight day trip, 36 undergraduate Animal Sciences students and 3 advisors toured Scotland’s countryside learning everything from veterinary school opportunities at the University of Glasgow to ruminant production systems in Scotland which included the sheep, goat, beef, dairy, and for our pseudo ruminant friends, alpacas along with much more!

If I were to talk about each part of the trip, you may be reading this for a while. So, with that, I’d like to take a few minutes to compare and contrast Scotland’s sheep industry to ours here in the States. While at the university of Glasgow, Continue reading

Buying Rams, What are You Really Getting?

Rodney Kott, Extension Sheep Specialist, Montana State University
(Previously published on the Montana State University Animal and Range Sciences Extension Service page)

For those of you with lambs in the barn, are you happy with your lamb crop so far? Did you happen to use a new breeding ram this year? If so, what type of selection criteria did you use to select this ram? As we begin to think about the next breeding season, Rodney Kott provides us with some food for thought to use in selecting our next breeding ram.

Buying rams… Are we really getting what we see, or are we just getting a new coat of paint?

Commercial sheep producers sell their grass and labor in the form of lamb and wool. The value of saleable product produced on a given land area is a function of the quantity and quality of lamb and wool. Production efficiency and ewe profitability can be maximized by Continue reading

Caseous Lymphadenitis (CL) in Sheep and Goats

Dr. Maria Leite-Browning, DVM, Extension Animal Scientist, Alabama A&M University
(Previously published as a Fact Sheet with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System)

Introduction
Caseous Lymphadenitis (CL) is a chronically infectious disease of sheep and goats that is caused by the bacterium Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis. Prevalent on all continents throughout the world, CL causes ulcerative lymphadenitis in horses and superficial abscesses in bovines, swine, rabbits, deer, laboratory animals, and humans. This zoonotic disease (a disease transmitted from animals to humans) is usually underestimated because CL is not a reportable disease in many countries, including the United States.

Some economic losses due to CL are Continue reading

Raising Lambs and Kids Artificially

Susan Schoenian, Sheep & Goat Specialist, University of Maryland Small Ruminant Extension Program
(Previously published on the Maryland Small Ruminant Page)

(Image Source: Biotic Industries)

One of the outcomes of having a high lambing/kidding percentage (greater than 200%) is that you may end up with some lambs/kids that you have to raise artificially. While some ewes/does will be able to raise triplets (even quads), sometimes it may be necessary (or wise) to remove lambs/kids from large litters in order to obtain more satisfactory weight gains.

There are different opinions as to which offspring should be removed for artificial rearing. Traditionally, it was recommended that Continue reading

Can Restricting Feed Intake Benefit your Lamb Feeding Program?

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

With lambing season upon us, many are concentrated on getting lambs on the ground and getting them off to a good start. Although this is an extremely important step in the continual management of your flock, we must also be thinking one-step ahead. By this I mean, what will be your feeding strategy after your lambs are weaned a few months from now. Some producers may decide to sell their lambs as feeders directly after weaning, but for those that decide to retain their lambs and feed them out, how will your lambs be fed? What will your diet be composed of and will you be providing the diet at ad-libitum or at a restricted intake? Thinking about this, have you ever considered how the feeding strategy you choose could affect the feed efficiency and performance of your growing lambs? If you haven’t, no worries. Thankfully, Murphy and others (1994) did just this to Continue reading

Feeding Fat to Pregnant Ewes

Dr. Ale Relling, Assistant Professor, Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University

Should we feed fats to pregnant ewes?

This question is being posed in order to summarize what was presented on December 1, 2018 at the Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium on feeding fats to pregnant ewes. Before I enter into the details of the results and economic implications, I would like to clarify two things. First, we must consider ruminant physiology and applicability, noting that the sources of fats/lipids used are commercially available products. Second, the goal of all studies were not to improve or change ewe physiology, but to evaluate the effect of feeding fats during gestation and the impact that they had on the offspring. Continue reading

Ag-note: Vaccinating with CDT

Kelvin Moore, Sade Payne, Elizabeth Spahr, OSU Animal Science Undergraduate Students
Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

CDT Vaccine: When, How, and Why
** Follow the link above to view the Ag-note.

(Image Source: Valleyvet.com)

With lambing season right around the corner, shepherds need to start preparing now. In this weeks Ag-note, OSU students Kelvin Moore, Sade Payne, and Elizabeth Spahr highlight the importance of a sound vaccination program using the CDT vaccine.

The CDT vaccine is yet another management tool found in the shepherd’s toolbox that is used to protect small ruminants against clostridium perfringens types C and D as well as clostridium tetani (tetanus). Appropriate use of this vaccine is a safe, cheap, and an effective method used to control for clostridial diseases in your flock. Continue reading

Grazing Damaged Corn and Corn Residue

Dr. Jeff McCutcheon, OSU Extension Educator, Southeast Regional Director

Pulling this article from our achieves this week, it seems to be extremely timely and beneficial as mother nature has made it challenging to harvest crops this fall in a timely manner. As we progress later into the harvest season, stalk quality will decrease which could lead to more down corn in our fields. From a cropping standpoint, this is an issue as some of the downed crop may not be salvageable. Luckily not all is lost if we are able to incorporate a strategic grazing plan.

To survive the current feed economy livestock producers need to graze their livestock as long as they can.  Every day livestock are meeting their nutritional needs through grazing they are being fed as economically as possible.  Typically cattle producers utilize corn and corn residue as a feed source but, in Ohio, sheep producers need to consider grazing Continue reading

Livestock Building Rental Considerations

Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Wayne County

Recently I have received some questions about rental of livestock buildings, specifically dairy facilities. Typically, callers want to know a charge per square foot or a rental rate based on a per head basis or, for a dairy facility, based on number of free stalls. The reality is that there is no one right or correct answer. There are some basic methods or approaches that generate a dollar figure. However, view that number as a starting point in a rental negotiation. There are additional factors that affect the final rental rate. Those factors include the age and condition of the building, location of the building, the functionality or obsolescence of the building, the demand for rental of this type of building and the character and personality of the parties involved in the rental agreement. Continue reading

Using Cover Crops as Forages

Wyatt Miller, University of Missouri Extension Agronomy Specialist
(Previously published in Missouri Ruralist, September 25, 2018)

Planting cover crops for forage?

Answer these five questions first.

Not all farms are fit for planting cover crops for forage.

Forage and hay supply is low, and the problem is unlikely to be resolved this year even with favorable weather. While there are several options available, grazing or harvesting cover crops could be an alternative feed option for some producers.

If you have not planted cover crops, there are several factors to consider before selecting a forage cover crop: Continue reading

Buying Hay the Smart Way

Kassidy Buse, Hay and Forage Grower summer editorial intern
(Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: September 18, 2018)

Purchasing hay, as simple as it seems, can be rather tricky. Knowing what and how much you need as well as trying to compare multiple feedstuffs on a level playing field can sometimes make hay buying a challenge.

“When hay supply is abundant, prices are lower and ranchers may not see the benefit in taking the time to price hay based on quality,” explains Adele Harty, extension cow/calf field specialist with South Dakota State University (SDSU), in an iGrow livestock newsletter. “Taking time to do this in a year with ample supply will help one be comfortable with the process when supplies are short.”

She provides the following four steps to Continue reading

Top 7 Factors for Quality Hay

Mike Rankin, Hay and Forage Grower managing editor
(Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: June 26, 2018)

One of the many things that David Letterman gets remembered for is his Top 10 lists.

These lists included such things as the Top 10 Signs Your Kid Had a Bad First Day at School, the Top 10 Numbers Between One and 10, and the Top 10 Dog Excuses for Losing the Dog Show (No. 3 – Didn’t know that was the judge’s leg).

Lists, especially those that are ranked, are great for generating a plethora of discussion and arguments — just ask two passionate baseball fans to list the top 10 players during the past 50 years. It’s likely both will end their day in an emergency room.

Agree or not, lists do invoke thought and reflection.

With that in mind, here’s Dennis Hancock’s “Top 7 Factors that Affect Hay Forage Quality.” The University of Georgia Extension forage specialist enumerated the list during a recent Alabama Forage Focus webinar. The factors are listed in order of perceived importance. Continue reading

Ag-note: Comparison of Grazing Systems

DeVaughn Davis, Nathaniel Kinney, Kristy Payne, Dalton Shipley, OSU Animal Science Undergraduate Students
Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

Comparison of Continuous vs. Management Intensive Grazing
** Follow the link above to view the Ag-note.

Another school year has passed and I am happy to say that I have completed my third year of being involved in AS 4004, Small Ruminant Production at The Ohio State University. This year Dr. Liz Parker and myself co-instructed this course and worked diligently to expose our students to every aspect of the small ruminant industry, including extension outreach and producer education. As a part of the course curriculum, students were challenged to compose an Ag-note (educational poster) to highlight a specific topic that is related to sheep or goat production, management, and husbandry. As viewers, you will see these unique postings appear periodically and will be noted in the title as “Ag-note.”

For our first Ag-note, OSU students DeVaughn Davis, Nathaniel Kinney, Kristy Payne, and Dalton Shipley share an economic perspective on the comparison of continuous versus management intensive grazing. Continue reading

Sheep Records: The Key to Profitability

Melanie Barkley, Livestock Extension Educator, Penn State Extension
(previously published on the Penn State Extension, Animals and Livestock page)

As a follow up to one of last weeks articles, Sheep Selection Tools, a good set of production records will serve as help tool in managing a profitable flock as well as assist you in making appropriate management decisions.

A key to profitability of any livestock operation is a good set of records.

Choosing what type of records to keep for your sheep operation initially starts with looking at what influences profitability of the flock. Once you decide what affects the profitability, then you can start collecting the records that help you make better informed decisions. These decisions might include tasks such as how to select the best performing sheep in your flock, how to identify sheep that should be culled, or how to identify expenses that could be decreased. Continue reading

Protect Sheep and Goats with CDT Vaccine

Peggy Coffeen, Dairy/Livestock Editor

This week we have another achieved article resurfacing from just few years ago. In this article, Dr. Eric Gordon, a member of the OSU Sheep Team, outlines the importance of a proper vaccination program. Be sure to check out this quick piece to learn more about the benefits of vaccinating your herd or flock with CDT.

Failing to arm sheep and goats disease protection is a bit like heading into a tackle football game with no helmets or pads. Less protection means greater risk. Vaccines are an important component in suiting up small ruminants to hit the field – or pasture. At minimum, sheep and goats of all ages and stages should be protected from clostridial diseases. Continue reading

Graze on Cool-Season Annuals – Thoughts for your 2018 Grazing Year

Curt Arens, Farm Progress field editor
(previously published in Nebraska Farmer: February 7, 2018)

Oats, barley, triticale, and spring wheat all make for good grazing and hay crops when they are spring-seeded.

For a seed cost of between $25 and $31 per acre, livestock producers can gain valuable grazing days or hay by planting cool-season annuals in the spring or fall. All kinds of annuals can be planted in the spring, according to Nebraska Extension educator emeritus, Dennis Bauer.

Speaking at a Beef Profit Tips meeting in Center, Neb., recently, Bauer said oats, spring triticale, spring beardless barley, Italian or annual ryegrass, field peas, and other legumes all make good grazing or hay options.

Continue reading

Hay Testing for Efficient Winter Feeding

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Educator, Noble County

As the new year begins, most Ohio graziers are probably feeding a good portion of hay as a part of their animals’ daily ration. Even if there is a supply of stockpiled forage available, we tend to make hay available just in case they need a little extra. It is likely that grain is also part of that daily ration. Well, how do you know how much hay, grain, and pasture they need? No one wants to leave their animals hungry. In addition, we do not want to waste time or money with unnecessary feeding. Figuring out the balance can seem like a guessing game, but the place to start is with a hay test.

Testing the hay you are feeding is well worth the price of sample analysis. Collecting a sample is not complicated and typically, results are available Continue reading

Even with Forages, the End of the Year is the Time to Plan!

Chris Penrose, OSU Extension Educator, Morgan County
(Previously published in the Winter issue of The Ohio Cattleman)

The month of December is a great time to plan. We still have the opportunity to make changes to the 2017 year and plan for 2018. When I think of 2017, especially as it relates to forages, two things come to mind for me. First, what worked and what went wrong? Next, is there anything that can be done to improve the operation for this and next year?

What worked and what went wrong?
Continue reading

Label Language Continues to Confuse Consumers

Garth Ruff, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Henry County

I have always been curious about what goes through a person’s mind while shopping at the grocery store. In the past couple of weeks, I have read several articles regarding consumer surveys, gauging consumer wants and purchasing habits when at the grocery store. I shared one such article in my weekly online newsletter titled, Informed Consumers Won’t Pay More For ‘Natural’. In this experiment researchers at Arizona State University polled 663 beef eaters about their willingness to pay for steak labeled with different attributes: one of which being natural. Half of the participants were provided with the definition of natural and half were not.

In summary, those who were provided the definition of Continue reading

Grazing Wind Damaged Corn Residue

Dr. Jeff McCutcheon, OSU Extension Educator, Southeast Regional Director

Although this information has been posted in the past, as harvest has come and gone, this opportunity may serve as a viable option for those looking for a cheap feed source to graze the mature ewe flock on. This strategy allows farmers to optimize on losses associated with harvest as well as serve as a means to save on winter feedings.

To survive the current feed economy livestock producers need to graze their livestock as long as they can.  Every day livestock are meeting their nutritional needs through grazing they are being fed as economically as possible.  Typically cattle producers utilize corn residue as a feed source but, in Ohio, sheep producers need to consider grazing Continue reading

Shearing the Flock: When are you Shearing?

North Dakota State University
(Published in The Shepherd’s Guide – Supplement to The Shepherd Magazine)

Shearing sheep prior to lambing improves flock productivity. Shepherds have some simple ways to capitalize on one of the best lamb and wool markets the American sheep industry has seen. One of them is shearing sheep. It can have tremendous impacts on flock productivity, according to Reid Redden, North Dakota State University Extension Service sheep specialist. He recommends sheep producers have their sheep shorn 30 to 45 days before anticipated lambing for several reasons, including: Continue reading

NRCS can Help Develop Water Systems in Pasture Management

Clif Little, OSU Extension Educator, Guernsey County
(Originally published in Ohio Farmer – October 23, 2017)

(Image Source: Underwood Conservation District, White Salmon, Washington)

Planned paddocks, good fencing, improved forages, grazing management, pasture fertility, and livestock genetics are all important elements when maximizing a grazing system. Water distribution, however, is arguably one of the most important elements of pasture-based livestock systems.

In southern and eastern Ohio, spring systems are the most often developed water sources. Springs can provide adequate, low-cost, low-maintenance water systems. Water quality and quantity are major considerations when developing a spring. The first question to answer concerning spring development: Continue reading

Don’t Guess, Forage Test!

Al Gahler, OSU Extension Educator, Sandusky County
(originally published in the Ohio Cattleman, late fall 2017 issue)

Regardless of livestock species, it is important to test your forages. When in doubt, test them out!

Across most of Ohio, 2017 has been a challenging crop year, especially for those in the hay production business. In 2016, while most producers did not have significant yields, quality was tremendous due to the dry weather which allowed for highly manageable cutting intervals and easy dry down. Since the end of June, however, 2017 has been just the opposite, with mother nature forcing many bales to be made at higher than optimal moisture levels, and cutting intervals measured in months rather than days.

With adequate moisture throughout most of the state for much of the summer, this equates to substantial yields, which in turn for the beef producer, means hay is readily available at reasonable prices. However, for the astute cattleman that either makes his/her own hay or knows the nature of the business, this also means high quality hay may just be the proverbial needle in the haystack, and for the most part, as the old adage goes, you get what you pay for.

While there are many options to manage the situation, including Continue reading

Winter Feeding Systems, Which is the Best for You?

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

The effects of winter feeding systems in gestating sheep on ewe and lamb pre-weaning performance.

As the breeding season comes to an end and winter approaches, it is important to consider how pregnant ewes will be managed as lambing season approaches.

There are several options available to producers for winter feeding strategies such as stockpiling forages on pasture, stored hay, grains, and recently the use of byproducts. Winter feeding can be a challenge as providing enough energy to meet the maintenance requirement of the gestating ewe and growth of the fetus becomes difficult.

Image Source: University of Kentucky, College of Agriculture, Department of Animal Sciences

In order to determine the effects of Continue reading

Webinar: Replacement Ewe Selection and Culling of Underperforming Ewes

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

Last Tuesday evening, Susan Schoenian, Sheep and Goat Specialist from the University of Maryland Extension, presented a webinar entitled: Replacement Ewe Selection and Culling of Underperforming Ewes. The webinar was sponsored by the Let’s Grow Committee of the American Sheep Industry Association.

Susan has been with Maryland extension since 1988 and is a sheep producer herself. Susan emphasizes that it is the ewe that makes the money on an operation and therefore it is critical to assess the selection and culling criteria of your flock. Selection of the highest quality females is important in securing a progressive flock. She also expresses that any ewe that fails to raise a lamb (i.e. failure to conceive or does not raise the lamb) should be culled from the flock regardless of her status. To listen to Susan’s seminar, please follow the link provided below.

Replacement Ewe Selection and Culling Underperforming Ewes

Protect Sheep and Goats with CDT Vaccine

Peggy Coffeen, Dairy/Livestock Editor

Failing to arm sheep and goats disease protection is a bit like heading into a tackle football game with no helmets or pads. Less protection means greater risk. Vaccines are an important component in suiting up small ruminants to hit the field – or pasture. At minimum, sheep and goats of all ages and stages should be protected from clostridial diseases.

Dr. Eric Gordon, DVM, The Ohio State University, believes that clostridial diseases are Continue reading

Diagnostic Sample Submissions for Animals

Dr. Bill Shulaw, OSU Extension Veterinarian

Lambing, kidding, and calving seasons are well underway and the typical questions about abortions, calf scours, and other problems have been asked. This week I was asked if I would provide some general guidelines about obtaining help with disease diagnosis.

First of all, getting at least a tentative diagnosis is crucial to formulating appropriate and cost-effective treatment, control, or prevention plans. Sometimes this isn’t easy or simple, but it should start with your local veterinarian. Most veterinarians can provide at least some diagnostic services that might Continue reading

To Finish or Sell at Weaning

Clif Little, OSU Extension Educator, Guernsey County

The economics of selling lambs at weaning or finishing them out is heavily influenced by the cost of feed. Assuming at your facility, you have the option of selling lightweight weaned lambs or finishing them, let us compare the two scenarios.

Feed prices may vary considerably and a recent check with local dealers revealed a range in cost for 14-16 % crude protein grower/finisher feed of $136.40 – $207.00 per ton. Prices will vary throughout the area and it is possible to custom blend your own recipe even cheaper. However, Continue reading

Grazing Corn Residue

Dr. Jeff McCutcheon, OSU Extension Educator, Morrow County

To survive the current feed economy livestock producers need to graze their livestock as long as they can.  Every day livestock are meeting their nutritional needs through grazing they are being fed as economically as possible.  Typically cattle producers utilize corn residue as a feed source but, Continue reading

Breeding Season Preparation

Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Educator, Athens County

Reproductive performance is an important factor in determining profitability in the sheep flock. Most breeds of sheep have seasonal breeding patterns and the majority of flocks in Ohio are spring lambing. In this scenario, the peak fertility of the ewe is from late September through November. The breeding season will extend Continue reading

HSUS Paints Bulls-eye on Ohio

Elizabeth Harsh, Executive Director of Ohio Cattlemen’s Association

In recent months the leadership of Ohio Agriculture has been facing the reality that the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has painted a bulls-eye on our Buckeye State. The group has publicly stated it would like to make Ohio its next victory, seeking to initiate and pass provisions similar to those that passed with a two-thirds majority in California as Proposition 2.

At a meeting they requested with Ohio Ag groups in February, HSUS representatives said Continue reading

Fall Grazing Management

Dr. Jeff McCutcheon, OSU Extension Educator, Knox County

Fall is one of the most crucial time periods for our cool season pastures. The most important activity a livestock producer should be doing to help the pastures survive winter and remain productive next year is to avoid over-grazing.

Why is fall a critical time for our cool season perennial forages? Continue reading

Monitor Lamb/Kid Worm Burden

Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Educator, Athens County

July through September are critical times to closely monitor the internal parasite burden of lambs and kids. Preferably monitoring would start in June. The internal parasite of principal concern during the summer months is Haemonchus contortus, the barber pole worm. Lambs and kids grazing on pastures that are contaminated with large numbers of infective Haemonchus contortus larvae can go downhill very rapidly in July and August. It would not be uncommon that within a 7-10 day period Continue reading

Options for Fall and Winter Grazing

Dr. Jeff McCutcheon, OSU Extension Educator, Knox County

In Ohio it is possible to graze year round. Of course grazing in winter does take planning. Summer is the best time to plan for fall and winter grazing. Why? Because many of our options have tasks associated with them in summer. By planning ahead it is possible in Ohio to have adequate Continue reading

Oats, Planted Late, Continue to be Our Most Dependable Forage?!?!

Curt Stivison, Fairfield SWCD Engineering Technician
Stan Smith, OSU Extension Program Assistant, Fairfield County

Most know that for the past seven years, we’ve spent much time in Fairfield County investigating the virtues of oats as an annual forage when they are planted during mid to late summer, or even into early fall. While we’ve harvested from 2 to 5 tons, and consistently realized average yields of 3+ tons of dry matter from oats planted in July and August after a harvested wheat crop, it’s also apparent that yield and quality can vary greatly as planting date, nitrogen fertilization, and perhaps even oat varieties differ from each field planted.

For those looking to grow a cost-effective alternative forage crop Continue reading

Pasture Measurement

Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Educator Athens County

Pasture measurement allows a grazier to determine an estimate of how much forage dry matter (DM) is available in a pasture paddock. Once forage DM is estimated, then the grazier can figure out how many animals can be grazed in that paddock for a given period of time. This is something that experienced graziers gain an eye for over time with practice. For beginning graziers, pasture measurement Continue reading

Managing Starvation/Hypothermia

Dr. Bill Shulaw, OSU Extension Veterinarian

The starvation/hypothermia complex usually comes about when multiple contributing factors are present and not just the simple occurrence of cold weather. Some of these include failure of the ewe to care for the lamb, difficult birth resulting in a weak lamb, bacterial mastitis in the ewe, “hard bag” in the ewe caused by Continue reading

Grazing Wind Damaged Corn Residue

Dr. Jeff McCutcheon, OSU Extension Educator, Morrow County

To survive the current feed economy livestock producers need to graze their livestock as long as they can.  Every day livestock are meeting their nutritional needs through grazing they are being fed as economically as possible.  Typically cattle producers utilize corn residue as a feed source but, in Ohio, sheep producers need to consider grazing Continue reading

Pasture Establishment/Renovation Economics

Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Educator, Athens County

Increased fertilizer, fuel, and equipment costs have made stored forages an expensive commodity. The forage produced in pastures has likewise increased in value. Good pasture management offers the opportunity to lower sheep production costs by utilizing the animal to fertilize and harvest the forage. Often pasture management discussions center around rotational grazing principles. In this article I want to consider another aspect of pasture management. Do your pastures contain the species mix and varieties that will Continue reading

Culling the Sheep Flock

Roger High, OSU Ohio Sheep Extension Program Specialist

With increasing production costs, livestock producers really need to evaluate each animal and decide whether that animal is really a productive animal or an animal that is “just on the payroll” and not really contributing the profitability of the program. Marginal producing ewes and rams should not be maintained in the flock!

Culling is one of the tools that should be implemented to increase the efficiency of the sheep flock. But what criteria should a producer use to base their culling decision? The following are guidelines Continue reading