Lamb and Goat Production Seminar: Facility Design

Although a bit lengthy, this video highlighting concepts for improved feeding systems and converting existing structures to house small ruminants by Mike Caskey from Southern Arkansas University is worth the listen. If there is a topic that you are more interested in, feel free to select that section within the video using the Youtube app. Trust me, there are some note worth pieces shared here. Enjoy!

Fasting Sheep Before Shearing

American Sheep Industry
(Previously published in the Sheep Industry News: February 2022)

Whatever your thoughts on fasting sheep, there’s no doubt your shearer will thank you for keeping the flock off feed and water before shearing. More importantly, your sheep will thank you, too. While there are various views on fasting, the benefits to sheep and shearer are significant, and backed by research.

The ASI Code of Practice for the Preparation of Wool Clips and even ASI’s Sheep Production Handbook don’t go into much detail about why fasting is important, but both call for sheep to be penned anywhere from 4-12 hours before shearing. And both recommend keeping sheep off feed and water while penned before shearing.

So, why is it important? First and foremost, for the health and safety of both the sheep and the shearer. If the gut of the sheep is full, it can add significant weight to the sheep, placing additional downward pressure on the sheep’s organs when in the shearing position causing discomfort and stress to the sheep. In turn, this often causes the sheep to not only be uncomfortable, but to kick and struggle more, leading to even more stress to the sheep.

Also, if sheep Continue reading

Indoor Housing Systems for Sheep and Goats

Dr. Brady Campbell, Assistant Professor, State Small Ruminant Extension Specialist

“What type of barn do I need to raise XXX ewes/does indoors?” This question and many others similar to it have been common place over the past year and for good reason. Take a look at the market price for any type of sheep or goat on the auction block today. Feeder lambs, fat lambs, and finished kids are bringing record prices and have continued to sustain these values well beyond the holiday season. These unique opportunities present our industry with some interesting challenges as higher feeder lamb prices make it difficult to buy and feed lambs for the finished market. It also makes it difficult to hold onto a group of replacement females when you could capitalize on the profits of the slaughter market. Additionally, cull ewes prices are up which makes culling this year easier than ever. However, what hasn’t been immediately considered is the effect of culling a large number of ewes. My question is – will this decision further complicate supply chain issues in the near future? With this background, its no wonder why my leading question is of great interest to producers from across the nation. Raising small ruminants indoors improves overall animal management, thus leading to improved efficiency resulting in more lambs and kids available for market. Continue reading

Secure Sheep and Wool Supply Plan – What Producers Need to Know

Center for Food Security and Public Health, Iowa State University

Swine producers are nervously watching the outbreaks of African Swine Fever (ASF) that are happening around the world. Did you know there is a disease just as devastating that can impact sheep? It is called foot and mouth disease (FMD).

Luckily, the United States (U.S) has not had a case of FMD since 1929. However, with global travel and trade, the risk of FMD introduction to the U.S. exists. An FMD outbreak could cost the industry $15 to $100 billion U.S. dollars. The U.S. sheep industry has benefited from an expansion in lamb exports and more than half of our wool is exported. One case of FMD in the U.S. and our export market would be shut down. The American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) values preparedness. The ASI funded the development of the Secure Sheep and Wool Supply (SSWS) Plan ( to help producers protect their flocks from FMD. Recently, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) partnered with the ASI to fund outreach materials and efforts to increase FMD awareness of producers and other stakeholders. Continue reading