Flushing Small Ruminants for a Higher Ovulation Rate

Michael Metzger, Michigan State University Extension Educator
(Previously published on MSU Extension, Sheep & Goat: August 6, 2018)

(Image Source: Sheep 101.info)

Increasing the level of nutrition for does and ewes 2-3 weeks prior to and 3 weeks into the breeding season can improve kid/lamb crop in some instances.

When managing a goat/sheep herd farmers are always looking for ways to improve their herd, increase production and raise profitability. One way that a farmer can accomplish this is to implement flushing into their breeding practices. Flushing is a temporary but purposeful increase in the level of nutrition around breeding time. This is done to boost ovulation, conception and embryo implantation rates. Flushing may also increase the proportion of females that exhibit estrus. Flushing can increase lambing and kidding rates by 10-20 percent. This is important because a flock’s lambing/kidding rate is one of the primary factors influencing profitability. Flushing works best in

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The Management Continuum

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

(Pipestone Sheep Management Wheel)

According to Websters dictionary, management is defined as the conducting or supervising of something (such as a business) whereas continuum is a coherent whole characterized as a collection, sequence, or progression of values or elements varying by minute degrees. In thinking about the management continuum of a small ruminant enterprise, producers and shepherds alike must ensure progression of each task through precision management. As producers, our role as the owner or animal care taker never ends. Daily chores may seem repetitive and daunting, but as our flocks and herds progress through the stages of production, specific tasks must be completed along the way in order to ensure that we provide for our animals to perform at their optimum.

The management continuum is used to outline each phase of production and highlight key tasks that should be considered. Previously,

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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.

The Threat of Asian Longhorned Tick Continues

Dr. Tim McDermott, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Franklin County
(Previously published in Farm and Dairy: July 23, 2020)

(Image Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Previously highlighted on the OSU Sheep Team last week, my colleague Erika Lyon wrote a great article that discussed the invasive Asian Longhorned Tick. I want to give an update on where that tick is now, where its new host range is located, and what potential disease problems to look out for.

Major concern:
The Asian longhorned tick is native to East Asia as well as Australia and New Zealand. It had not previously been found in the United States prior to its discovery on a farm in New Jersey in the fall of 2017. This tick is a major concern as it reproduces via parthenogenesis, which means thatthe female does not need a male in order to reproduce, she can start laying eggs, which are genetic clones, that can overwhelm the host in very large numbers.

It has been found on

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Start Checking Your Livestock for the Asian Longhorned Tick

Erika Lyon, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Jefferson and Harrison Counties
(Previously published in Farm and Dairy: January 24, 2019)

(Image Source: Farm and Dairy)

You may have heard about a new(ish) tick to the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control recently published a news release on the spread of the Asian longhorned tick (Haemaphysalis longicornis), which is now found in eight states: Connecticut, New Jersey, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, New York, Pennsylvania, and Arkansas, and it is right next door to Ohio.

Researchers suspect this tick has been in New Jersey since 2013 even though it was first confirmed on sheep in the U.S. over a year ago. Much about this tick is unknown — it is the first new tick found in the U.S. in roughly 80 years. Unfortunately, since this tick has yet to be studied in its new environments, much is unknown about its ability to transmit disease and how well these populations are able to survive the winter.

What we do know is Continue reading

Risky Weeds in Risky Times

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Noble County

Farming is truly risky business. Every moment of every day on the farm holds inherent risk. The main duties of the farm manager in any sector are to identify, evaluate, and mitigate risk. All the little steps of risk mitigation add up to make a big difference that we can’t always see, but can still save us time, money, and distress in the future.

One of the risks forage managers face on a regular basis is the threat of persistent weeds. Weeds are an issue that compound over time if not addressed soon after detection. Choosing to make the investment in weed prevention and control early can help prevent exponential population growth that is increasingly difficult to manage.

Any plant in the wrong place can be considered a weed, but Continue reading

Pasture Management in Dry Weather

Dr. David Barker, Professor – Horticulture and Crop Science, The Ohio State University

Dry weather in recent weeks throughout Ohio has raised several questions about how pastures should be managed during drought. Although the experts don’t all agree if this period of dry weather meets the definition of a drought (yet), there is no doubt that pasture growth will slow to zero. How should we be grazing our pastures in mid-summer?

Avoid over-grazing
Unfortunately, without rain or irrigation pastures will not grow, and close grazing will exaggerate this effect. Leaf removal by grazing (or mowing) results in a roughly similar proportion of root death. During moist conditions, roots can recover quite quickly, however, grazing during drought will reduce water uptake due to root loss. As a general rule of thumb, grazing below 2 or 3 inches will accelerate drought effects on pastures, and also, slow recovery once rain does come. Of course, optimum grazing height and management varies with Continue reading

Replacing “Junk” Forage with “Quality” Forage

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Noble County

Do these comments sound familiar to you?:

  • “I really need to do something with that junk pasture this year.”
  • “The bales off that hayfield are junk. I’m going to reseed it.”

Issues with “junk forage” can include low yields, weed encroachment, and low-quality feed value. Forage growers tend to lament over junk forage two of the four seasons of the year. One is the summer, when their hay equipment is running, their animals are grazing, and the forage is right in front of their eyes. The other is winter, when forage is in short supply, quality issues are leading to low animal productivity, and when pastures look more like mud spas. The time to make progress on correcting the factors that lead to Continue reading

What to Consider Before Adopting Multi-species Grazing

Rob Cook, Planned Consultation Manager and Pasture and Range Consultant
(Previously published on Noble Research Institute: October 1, 2017)

(Image Source: Cornell University)

Grazing land managers who graze multiple livestock species in the same animal groups or on the same acres of land see ecological as well as economic benefits that could improve the sustainability of their operations. Multi-species grazing can be used to more effectively utilize all of the browse and forage in pastures, target weeds and brush, and reduce parasite loads across pastures. These benefits could also lead to increased revenues or decreased costs.

Regardless, using multiple species to capture these benefits is not always sunny days. Including additional species on the ranch will add

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On-farm Benefits of using EID (Electronic Identification)

Victoria Agriculture
(Previously published online with Agriculture Victoria)

(Image Source: Shearwell)

Accurate identification of sheep
A Sheep Electronic Identification (EID) system uses an electronic ear tag or device, marking each animal with its own, individual identifying number. There are many potential flock and cost management benefits of EID for producers to utilize on the farm.

The EID tag or device contains a microchip that can be read electronically in a fraction of a second by producers who have a suitable reader (panel or handheld). With electronic reading, transcription errors can be eliminated saving both time and labor in the yards [and barns] whilst increasing the accuracy of your information.

Individual animal management
Within a flock there is a substantial variation in the characteristics that influence an animal’s production level. Identifying and Continue reading

Oats as a Late Summer Forage Crop

Jason Hartschuh, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Crawford County
Al Gahler, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Sandusky County
(Previously published in The Ohio Farmer: May 19, 2020)

Oats make an excellent double crop after wheat.

Oats is traditionally planted as the first crop in early April as a grain crop or an early season forage. One of the beauties of oats is its versatility in planting date. Oats can also be planted in the summer as an early fall forage for harvest or grazing.

Summer oats has a wide planting window but performs much better with an application of nitrogen and may benefit from a fungicide application to improve quality. During the summer of 2019 we conducted a study to examine the planting of oats from July 15th through early September to examine tonnage and forage quality. Through this trial we examined planting date, yield, forage quality and an application of foliar fungicide to control oats crown rust.

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Avoid Heat Stress in Your Sheep and Goats

Michael Metzger, Michigan State University Extension Educator
(Previously published on MSU Extension, Sheep & Goat: June 29, 2012)

Make sure your sheep and goats have access to plenty of clean fresh water on hot, humid days.

Extreme heat is stressful to livestock, as well as people. High temperatures are even more problematic in states like Michigan, because high temperatures are also often accompanied by high humidity. The heat index (temperature plus humidity) is a more accurate measure of heat stress than temperature alone. Continue reading

Ag-note: Toxic Plants and Small Ruminants – Wild Cherry

Autum Ballard, Madison Findley, Emily Gaglione, and Cassandra Randolph, OSU Animal Science Undergraduate Students
Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

Toxic Plants and Small Ruminants: Wild Cherry
** Follow the link above to view the Ag-note.

(Image Source: Indiana Timber and Veneer, LLC)

As we wrap up one of our last Animal Sciences undergraduate student Ag-notes for the page, students Autum Ballard, Madison Findley, Emily Gaglione, and Cassandra Randolph have chosen to highlight a toxic plant that is known to be an issue in livestock pastures, especially during the peak of summer among high wind systems – Wild Cherry trees. Wild Cherry, a tree commonly found in Ohio woodlands, can cause severe health issues in livestock when plant material is consumed by livestock after the plant has been stressed. Continue reading

Making Good Hay in a Bad Year

Mindy Ward, Editor, Missouri Ruralist – Farm Progress
(Previously published in Missouri Ruralist: June 9, 2020)

Wrapping large round bales with higher moisture and plastic may help get hay off the field faster.

It seems as though rainy springs are becoming more of a haymaking tradition than an exception. Year in and year out, farmers fight to find the four or five consecutive days to let it dry, leaving some baling wet forage.

Tim Schnakenberg, University of Missouri Extension field specialist in agronomy, says the baleage harvest system is a good option for farmers because many of today’s round balers are designed to handle wetter forages, and they can be cost-effective.

“When we look at conventional silage systems,” he says, “we find that Continue reading

Prevent Parasites Through Grazing Management

Melanie Barkley, Livestock Extension Educator, Penn State Extension
(previously published with Penn State Extension: May 31, 2017)

Grazing management and genetic selection can help your flock minimize the impact of parasites.

Parasites continue to plague many sheep and goat producers throughout the grazing season. Internal parasites decrease growth rates and in high levels can even cause death. However, sheep and goat producers can follow several practices to minimize the impacts to their flock or herd. These practices center on grazing management, but can also include genetic selection principles.

Livestock pass internal parasite eggs in their manure. These eggs then hatch and go through several larval stages until they reach an infective stage. This can take as little as six days to go from egg to infective stage. Therefore, producers can use grazing rotations to Continue reading

Grazing Summer Annuals

Brad Schick, University of Nebraska Extension
(Previously published Drovers Newsletter: June 26, 2018)

Grazing summer annual grasses can be a great addition to an operation when annuals are chosen correctly and grazing plans are used.

Grazing summer annual grasses is a great way to add flexibility to an operation, but in order to make it worth your time and money some management decisions are required. Your goals and your location will determine what type of summer annual you should plant. This article will address:

1. Type of annual and planting date
2. Timing of grazing
3. Prussic acid and nitrates Continue reading

ASI Feature: Proper Feeding of Ewes During Breeding and Pregnancy

As we prepare for the breeding season, it is important to consider the Body Condition Score of your flock as well as their nutritional needs before, during, and after breeding. Feeding for the breeding season doesn’t stop once the ewes are bred. It is important to provide gestating ewes with an optimum feeding regiment, whether that be in the form of grain, pasture, or a combination of both to ensure a successful breeding season.

Control of Multiflora Rose in Pastures

Dean Kreager, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Licking County
(Previously published in Farm and Dairy: May 7, 2020)

(Image Source: AgWeb)

There is one pasture project that never seems to go away. That is controlling the multiflora rose. The plant was first introduced into the United States in 1866 to be used as a rootstock for grafting roses. About 70 years later the U.S. Soil Conservation Service promoted the use of multiflora rose as a “living fence” and a means of erosion control. The adaptability of this plant allowed it to get out of control. Over the years this plant has made the list of noxious weeds in many states and is taking over many pastures in this part of the country. The battle to gain control is difficult and maintenance is continual.

The leaves and thorns on this plant make it easy to identify as a rose. Left on its own, this plant can quickly form dense thickets over 6 feet high. The white flowers it produces in May to June lead to seeds that birds are more than happy to spread throughout pastures. One multiflora rose can produce up to Continue reading

Preparing the Flock for the Breeding Season

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

If you can believe it, we are already in the first week of June! The reality of breeding season is real for some of our breeders here in the state of Ohio. Others may be several months out, however, regardless of when you will begin the breeding season on your operation it is important to be prepared. Breeding season is more than just joining ewes and rams together, it takes months of preparation prior to this to ensure a successful season. Although this article has some age, it still remains to be a nice checklist on how to manage your rams and ewes prior to the breeding season.

Rams:
High temperatures can be detrimental to ram fertility, reducing pregnancy rates and lambing percentages. Heat stress occurs when the scrotum is not able to reduce the temperature of the testicles below normal body temperature. Although heat stressed rams may Continue reading

Silage – Part 1: 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 10, 2015)

(Image Source: Michigan State University)

A closer look at adding silage to your sheep feeding program.

Have you ever considered making and feeding silage? This is a common question Michigan State University Extension ask producers when reviewing their forage plans, so let’s take a closer look at silage feeding systems to help you consider if it could be a good fit for your farm. I have been feeding silage for about 15 years, and it is clear to me that my particular program would not work without silage as a centerpiece of my feeding program.

Note in the picture how the plastic is left on the bottom of the bale to retard spoilage in this simple feeding system. This high-quality forage was made from a predominantly grass pasture, harvested at the right time and carefully processed to insure quality. Baled silage is Continue reading

Potential for Toxic Nitrate Levels in Forages

Dr. Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist, The Ohio State University
(Previously published in the C.O.R.N. Newsletter 2020-13)

The recent cold and cloudy weather has raised the concern for higher nitrate levels in forages that could potentially be toxic to animals consuming those forages. It is true that any stress condition that slows plant growth and metabolism can increase the risk of higher plant nitrate levels. This article discusses factors to consider, especially given the recent cold weather we have been experiencing in Ohio and surrounding regions.

Plants readily take up nitrates from the soil, even under colder conditions, and especially since we have plentiful soil moisture to facilitate uptake. Once in the plant, nitrate is converted to nitrite, then ammonia, and finally into amino acids and plant protein. Any environmental stress that Continue reading

An In-Depth Look at Ivermectin

Susan Schoenian, Sheep & Goat Specialist, University of Maryland Small Ruminant Extension Program
(Previously published in Wild and Wooly – Spring 2020)

(Image Source: Valley Vet Supply)

Recently, several media outlets reported the success of an in vitro study conducted in Australia regarding the antiviral effects of ivermectin on the virus that causes COVID-19. An in vitro study is performed outside the living organism, such as in a petri dish; where- as, an in vivo study is conducted in a living organism. A treatment may work in vitro but not in vivo or it may work in both or neither.

Ivermectin has shown in vitro activity against the zika virus, but its effect Continue reading

Best Management Practices for De-worming Sheep and Goats

With warmer weather projected in the near forecast and pastures beginning to become full and lush, many producers have or will soon be turning their stock out onto pasture. It is critically important that we monitor the health and well-being of our animals on a daily basis. For those that may need treatment due to parasitic infection, it is important to understand which de-worming products to use at the appropriate time and how to correctly incorporate them into your management system.

Mortality Composting for Small Ruminant Producers

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

(Image Source: MSU Extension)

This article discusses the benefits of composting small ruminants and how to do it.

Unfortunately, mortality is a reality of any livestock operation.  But is it possible to turn this loss into some form of gain? The answer is yes! “The Bodies of Dead Animals Act” (BODA); Act 239 of 1982 and as amended is Michigan law that stipulates legal means of mortality management. Under BODA, there are six alternatives to disposal including: burial, incineration, rendering, landfill, composting, and anaerobic digestion. Composting is Continue reading

Grasses are Talking: Are You Listening?

Mike Rankin, Hay and Forage Grower managing editor
(Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: May 5, 2020)

Alfalfa may be known as the “Queen of Forages,” but there’s no disputing the fact that grasses are grown more widely across the U.S. and provide the backbone of the greater forage industry.

Grass utilization and prominence varies with region:

  •  Large fields of timothy for export in the Northwest
  • Vast expanses of native grasses in the Great Plains
  • Acres of bermudagrass in the South
  • Mixed cool-season grass pastures in the Midwest
  • Millions of acres of tall fescue through the mid-South
  • Alfalfa-grass mixtures in the Northeast
  • And the list goes on

Although different species of grasses have unique characteristics, as a group they are generally Continue reading

How Late Can I Plant Forages?

Dr. Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist, The Ohio State University
(Previously published in the C.O.R.N. Newsletter 2020-12)

The Ohio Agronomy Guide states that most cool-season perennial forages should be planted by the first of May. While some of you reading this article were able to plant forages by now, many of us (myself included) once again were not able to meet that deadline due to wet weather. So how hard and fast is the May 1 deadline, especially in a cold spring like we have experienced? Don’t we have a little more time to plant forages? I hate to say this, but the answer is neither simple nor clear cut.

The planting deadlines in the Ohio Agronomy Guide are based on data and years of experience of what is best management practice. The risk of stand establishment problems increases as we move further and further past the published deadlines. Tell me it will not turn hot and dry in early to mid-June and that weeds won’t emerge and grow like gangbusters with all the moisture we’ve had, then I’ll tell you that forage plantings can still be successful. Unfortunately, the law of Continue reading

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

Hay Making and the Balancing Act . . . Quality vs. Quantity!

Stan Smith, OSU Extension PA, Fairfield County
(Previously published in the Spring 2020 issue of The Ohio Cattleman)

With age comes experience, and with experience eventually comes some of those things that you can only shake your head at. This is the time of year when I usually begin to hear one of my favorites, “I don’t like to get in hurry with that first cutting . . . we don’t want it rained on, and I like to let it grow a little longer so we get more. Besides, even if made a little late, it’s still got to be better than snowballs!

If nothing else, the last two springs have taught us this one thing. Not all first cutting forage is better than snowballs. In fact, the inability to make hay in a timely fashion has cost Midwest operators lots in terms of hay quality that’s resulted in loss of body condition, breed back issues, poor quality colostrum, and ultimately poor animal health and performance. If there was ever a time to carefully balance hay quality issues with the quantity of hay needed, weather permitting, this must be it! In fact, with some aggressive planning and a little cooperation from Mother Nature, perhaps we can have both quality and quantity this year. Following are 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

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Wet Years have Favored Weeds

Melissa Bravo, agronomic and livestock management consultant
Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: April 21, 2020)

Here we go again. Another mild winter of heave and thaw with little snow cover to protect the shallow roots and crowns of improved forage crops.

Without that snow barrier, species such as alfalfa and timothy — the most susceptible of our non-native forages — are subject to winter injury, which thins stands. This leaves less competition for weeds to establish and flourish.

Learning some skills to evaluate stand composition before you harvest first-cutting hay can add to profitability, but you must first be able to identify problem hayfield and pasture weeds.

During the dead of winter, most fields look uniformly brown. Then, as temperatures begin to warm, they look uniformly green. The problem is that sometimes “green” may consist of more than just desired forage species. Weeds can contribute to yield, but they also can Continue reading

What to Do About Mold in Feed

Erika Lyon, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Jefferson and Harrison Counties
(Previously published online with Ohio Farmer: April 7, 2020)

Now that we are getting into the summer months, moldy feed might not be on your mind right now, especially if your livestock are grazing. But now is a great time to be cognizant of the conditions that lead to moldy feed in the winter months. The conditions that forages are grown and harvested in can determine the risk of mold developing later in storage.

First, let’s talk about what mold is. When we say something appears “moldy,” it usually has a dusty or fuzzy appearance or seems off-color. Maybe it produces a certain moldy odor. While many microbes might be referenced when we say mold, it is usually one group of microbes that is Continue reading

Grass Tetany Could be Looming for Cattle and Sheep

Dr. Ted Wiseman, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Perry County
(Previously published online with Farm and Dairy: February 11, 2016)

(Image Source: West et al., 2002 – Massey University)

Are your pastures ready for spring and your livestock ready for pasture?

As fast as this year seems to be going, pastures will be greening up and it will be time to start grazing again. Although we haven’t had much of a winter so far, and I hope I am not jinxing us by mentioning it here.

Spring arrives soon
Soon it will be time to start preparing our livestock for lush green pastures. Last year was a tough year for getting stored forages harvested, especially first cutting hay.

Supplement energy
Some hay analysis I have seen this past year would suggest that

Continue reading

Establishing New Forage Stands

Dr. Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist, The Ohio State University
(Previously published in the C.O.R.N. Newsletter 2020-08)

Early spring provides one of the two preferred times to seed perennial cool-season forages, the other being late summer. Two primary difficulties with spring plantings are finding a good window of opportunity when soils are dry enough. The outlook for this spring is for planting opportunities to be few and short. As planting is delayed, the risk increases because of more competition from weeds and summer heat when seedlings are small and vulnerable to drying out. An accompanying article on preparing for planting along with the following 10 steps will help improve your chances for successful forage establishment in the spring. Continue reading

Why Didn’t My Vaccine Work this Year?

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

(Image Source: NADIS)

I’m sure that many of you are familiar with the old adage of “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.” In general, this piece of advice can be misleading as change is needed and certainly essential when trying to improve the efficiency of your operation. However, when it comes to vaccination programs on your farm, this piece of advice fits perfectly. Vaccines are administered as a means to control an underlying issue within your flock or herd. It is recommended to not vaccinate for a specific disease unless you currently or suspect that you will have issues. This is in part due to the nature of the vaccines. Vaccines contain the organism in which create disease. This organism is modified so that the host is able to mount an effective immune response without becoming ill from the disease. As a result, producers willingly give their flock or herd a specific disease; but if your operation does not have issues with it, it is not recommended that you give the vaccine if it is not needed. However, there is one exception is this rule. It is highly recommended that each operation vaccinate with CD&T. The CD&T vaccine is used to protect against Clostridium perfringens types C and D (overeating disease) as well as clostridium tetani (tetanus). For those interested in learning more about this vaccine, check out this Ag-note: Vaccinating with CDT.

Now you maybe thinking, why are we still talking about CD&T? This past spring I have received more questions than ever regarding sick and/or compromised lambs. By sick lambs, I’m not talking about those that have a couch or elevated temperature, I’m talking about those lambs that seem to be acting abnormally. According to the producers, all vaccination protocols that are commonly followed on-farm where adhered to. So, what went wrong this year? 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

Forage Species Selection and Alternatives for Ohio

With several of us on quarantine, you may have a bit more time on your hands to think about how you will renovate your pastures this year or perhaps work on that new hay seeding that you have been putting off for the past few years. Regardless of your situation, developing a comprehensive understanding of forage species is key for optimal forage establishment and on-farm utilization. Although this recording is a bit dated, it still contains a lot of useful information in terms of forage specie types and their uses. Enjoy!

Sheep Update: Creep Feeding Lambs

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

(Image Source: Ketcham’s Sheep Equipment)

Creep feeding young lambs while still nursing the ewe can provide valuable supplemental weight gain. This added weight gain has the most economic value for lambs managed in an intensive, early weaning production system where lambs will be maintained in a dry-lot. Conversely, for lambs that will be developed on pasture throughout the spring and summer, creep feeding would be of less value due to the relative expense of this early weight gain. Creep feeding also is beneficial for flocks with a high number of multiple births, or flocks with ewes having limited milk production.

Young lambs may be started on creep feed as early as 10 days of age. Although significant amounts of feed are normally not consumed until 3-4 weeks of age, providing access to creep feed at an early age allows lambs to develop a habit of eating dry feed, and helps Continue reading

Grass Cover Crops; Bargain Feed or Bedding?

Jason Hartschuh, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Crawford County and Stan Smith, OSU Extension PA, Fairfield County
(Previously published on Ohio Farmer: February 27, 2020)

(Image Source: NRCS-USDA)

With somewhere around 1.5 million acres that were not planted last spring to the intended crops of corn or soybeans due to the extraordinary weather, today, Ohio farmers likely have more acres of cereal rye planted for cover than at any time in previous history. At the same time, cattlemen and livestock owners are facing forage shortages that rival the drought of 2012. Adding insult to injury, the inventory of straw bedding is similarly very short, and will likely remain so until at least mid-summer.

With the opportunity for newly harvested forages still 2 or 3 months away, and straw even further out, perhaps it’s time to take a look at the opportunity for realizing either feed or bedding from cereal rye, or maybe even one of our other biennial grass crops. Continue reading

Benefits of Accelerated Sheep Production

Last week we highlighted the topic of rearing lambs artificially and how this may be more common than one may think in highly prolific and accelerated systems. This week we thought that it would be beneficial to introduce some of these accelerated lambing systems. Sponsored by the American Sheep Industry’s Let’s Grow program, Dr. Richard Ehrhardt with Michigan State University tours four accelerated flocks across the nation and discusses the benefits and challenges of these systems. Be sure to check this quick clip out!

Be Careful on When to Start Grazing

Chris Penrose, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Morgan County

Be careful on when to start grazing: you may not want to rush it and we may need to fix it.

One goal I have had with livestock grazing over the years is to start as soon as I can. I have my  spring calving cows on stockpiled grass now and they are calving on a nice sod. It is my hope that I will not have to feed them any more hay. Many years this works and some years it does not. On my farm, grass has started to grow.

If March continues like the way it is going, I suggest we don’t rush things as we have a couple issues that could be going on. First, growth is a little slow this spring, and second, many pastures have sustained abnormal damage this winter from the wet conditions we are still having. If you have fields that were 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

Good Choices on Rams Now Translates to Good Flock Production Later

James Thompson, Sheep Specialist (retired), Oregon State University
(Previously published on with the Oregon State University Extension Service)

There is no room for snap judgments when selecting breeding sheep. Next year’s lamb crop depends on our choices now. Take the time and the gas to drive around and look at prospects. Always keep your improvement plan in mind; choose only rams and ewes that will move you toward your goal. The ram contributes 80% – 90% of the genetic improvement to the flock. A good ram does not cost—it pays. An outstanding sire can’t be purchased for market price, and you can’t expect outstanding lambs from a scrub ram. Keep the following in mind as you look at prospects: Continue reading

Pasture Species Selection for Sheep

Dan Undersander, Extension Forage Agronomist, University of Wisconsin
(Previously published on the University of Wisconsin-Madison Extension page)

Pasture and hay forage crops generally fall into four categories:

  1. Legumes
  2. Cool Season Grasses
  3. Warm Season Grasses
  4. Alternative/annual forages

The last category includes many perennials crops, such as rape, kale, comfrey, and all annual forage crops, such as sudangrass, sorghum, and various millets. None of these should be considered for sheep pasture other than in emergency situations.

Warm season grasses are generally Continue reading

Scabby (Sore) Mouth (Orf) – A Disease of Sheep and Goats

Nicky Stone, Tony Brightling, and Susan Bibby, Agriculture Victoria
(Previously published online with Agriculture Victoria)

With an abnormally warm winter, we have heard several reports of producers experiencing serve issues with sore mouth already this year. For those that have not experienced these issues, be sure to join the authors above as they outline the mode of infection and provide some insight on how to control for this disease.

Scabby mouth (contagious ecthyma, orf) is a highly contagious, viral disease of sheep, goats, and occasionally humans. This disease is a potential problem of live sheep exports [and confinement type operations] due to the close confinement of animals and the feeding of sheep with pellets and hay that cause minor abrasions to the mouth and lips. Continue reading

Forage Focus: Fungal Growth in Stored Forages

In this months episode of Forage Focus, join host Christine Gelley and guest Erika Lyon as they discuss the topic of fungal growth, which can lead to animal health issues revolving around mold in stored forages. With this episode being approximately 50 minutes in length, we have provided an outline with specific time stamps below the video that can be used to find exactly what you may be looking for. Enjoy!

Continue reading

7 Common Fencing Mistakes

Alaina Burt, Editor, Beef Magazine
(Previously published in Beef Magazine: March 24, 2015)

Have your pastures began to green up with the recent warm temperatures and as a result have decide to turn your animals out onto pasture? When is the last time that you checked the fence line along the tree or property line? Do you use some form of electric fence to keep livestock in and wildlife out? As we begin to plan for the 2020 grazing season, the quality of your fence will play a huge role in the success of your grazing season.

Here are seven of the most common errors in livestock fencing, and how to avoid them.

Continue reading

Small Ruminant Vaccine Program Considerations

Kevin Pelzer DVM MPVM, Diplomate of ACVPM, Virginia/Maryland Regional College Of Veterinary Medicine
(Previously published online: Pelzer Proceedings)

Small Ruminant Vaccine Programs
Prepartum vaccines
Does and ewes should be vaccinated 3-4 weeks prior to the time of parturition in order to provide colostral immunity to the neonates

  1. Clostridium perfringens type C and D
    • Vaccine will cross protect against Cl. perfringens type B
    • Vaccine prevents hemorrhagic enteritis and overeating disease
  2. Clostridium tetani
    • Protects neonates from tetanus
    • Especially important if horses have been/are on the premise
    • Neonates at risk because of tail docking, castration, and dehorning
      • Note: The Cl. perfringens C and D and tetanus come in a combination vaccine
  3. Parainfluenza 3
    • Protects against parainfluenza 3, a viral disease that predisposes neonate to pneumonia
    • The product contains both PI3 and Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis Virus
    • The product is given intranasally, 1/2 of the cattle dose – 1 ml in one nostril
    • Reduces the shedding of PI3 by dams and provides good colostral immunity to neonates

Optional vaccine

Continue reading

Making and Maintaining Quality Baleage

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

It almost seems like a broken record. We have continually talked about the excessive amount of poor quality hay made last year and the issues surrounding how to incorporate it as a viable feed source in livestock diets. Here in Ohio, we have yet to have had an actual winter and the rain continues to fall. This weather pattern may be the new norm, thus we must learn how to adapt to these challenges. So, the question becomes, how will producers make quality first cutting hay that maintains a high feed value in the future?

The greatest challenge with making dry hay is Continue reading

Parasite Management Starts with Genetics

Gail Keck
(Previously published in Ohio Farmer: February 24, 2020)

Ohio producer uses data to increase his sheep flock’s resistance to internal parasites.

For sheep producers with flocks on pasture, controlling internal parasites can be expensive and time-consuming, but the cost of not controlling the parasites can be even greater, in reduced performance and death losses. While it won’t eliminate the need to monitor and deworm entirely, building a flock with greater genetic resistance can help reduce losses and treatment expenses.

John Anderson, who raises Polypay sheep seedstock near Shreve,in Wayne County, Ohio, has been selectively breeding for parasite resistance for 10 years, and he’s seeing the benefits in his own flock and in the breeding stock he sells.

Continue reading

Larval Survival of Barber’s Pole Worm

Wormboss
(Previously published on Wormboss, Tests and Tools, Management Tools, Grazing Management)

(Image Source: Deb Maxwell)

Problem:
Many producers are unaware how long is required to prepare low worm-risk paddocks, although surveys show most are in favor of using them.

Solution:
Understanding the few conditions under which worm larvae will die is vital in creating low worm-risk paddocks.

Benefit:
Knowing the ‘required time’ for your property to create low worm-risk paddocks.

Under what conditions do worm larvae die?
A common misconception, based on having fewer worm issues in winter, is that frosts kill worm larvae on the paddock. This is a myth.

Continue reading

Is Creep Feeding Lambs a Profitable Undertaking?

Donald G. Ely and Endre Fink, Animal and Food Sciences, University of Kentucky
(Previously published online as a University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service white paper)

(Image Source: Premier1Supplies)

Creep feeding is a technique of providing feed to nursing lambs to supplement the milk they consume. Creep-fed lambs grow faster than noncreep-feds and are more aggressive in nursing ewes. This aggression stimulates greater ewe milk production which, in turn, increases creep feed intake because these lambs will be bigger at a given age.

Typically, the creep diet is a grain protein supplement mixture and is made available in an area constructed so lambs can enter, but ewes cannot. Some situations when it may be economical to creep feed are described below. Continue reading

How to Frost Seed to Add Legumes to your Pastures

Genevieve Slocum, Kings Agriseeds
(Previously published in On Pasture: February 10, 2020)

(Image Source: On Pasture)

Folks have been asking about this recently. From January 2017, Genevieve’s tips can help you adjust your winter grazing now for frost-seeding for a better pasture this summer.

Frost-seeding is one form of over-seeding, in which you can use legumes to economically and quickly thicken a pasture or a perennial hayfield in late winter. Though no-till drilling has more guarantee of success, frost seeding is an easy operation while you have time in the off season, and if managed correctly and timed properly, has good likelihood of success. Spraying, tillage, and lost grazing time does not factor into the costs as it typically does with a pasture reseeding. Clover eventually Continue reading

Ag-note: Use of Guard Llamas in an Integrated Predator Control System

Natassaja Boham, Makenzie Doherty, and Jordan Johnson, OSU Animal Science Undergraduate Students
Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

Use of Guard Llamas in an Integrated Predator Control System
** Follow the link above to view the Ag-note.

In our latest Ag-note, Animal Sciences students Natassaja Boham, Makenzie Doherty, and Jordan Johnson highlight a unique ruminants species (pseudo ruminant that is) that can be used in any livestock operation as a means to control for predators. As Ohio legislation begins to reassess the status of the coyote in terms of being a fur-bearing animal and as a result producers may be limited in how they may be able to trap these predators, producers may be forced to find alternative means to manage this controversial wildlife livestock interaction. Continue reading

Grafting Lambs: An Opportunity to Increase Flock Productivity

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

This article discusses how to successfully graft lambs unto another ewe.

(Image Source: Michigan State University)

Introduction
Grafting is the process of assessing milk/colostrum production in ewes and matching lambs to supply. Grafting lambs is an effective means of efficiently raising “extra” or “bonus” lambs and maximizing flock productivity. It is also a vastly underutilized technique for many reasons. One is simply lack of know-how. Another is lack of milk/colostrum in ewes due to chronic disease such as ovine progressive pneumonia (OPP) and/or because of undernutrition. In addition, the opportunities for matching graftee lambs to surrogate ewes can be Continue reading

Weaning Primer

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

Weaning is when the milk is removed from the diet of a young mammal. Usually – but not always – it coincides with separation of the young from their dam. Weaning age varies greatly in sheep and goats, from as early as 14 days to natural weaning, at more than four months of age. Lambs have been successfully weaned as early as 14 days; kids as early as 28 days. Early weaning is usually defined as weaning prior to 90 days of age; 60 days is most common. Late weaning is anything after that.

Wean by weight
It is generally better to wean based on weight rather than age. A general recommendation is Continue reading

Critical Control Points for Lamb Survival

Richard Ehrhardt, Michigan State University Extension Specialist, Small Ruminants
(Previously published on MSU Extension, Sheep & Goat: January 27, 2020)

This article talks about when newborn mortality occurs and how to prevent it.

Introduction
“What is a reasonable mortality rate for lambs?” This is a question frequently asked by many producers. However, the answer is not straightforward, as it depends on many factors including lambing rate, management practices and production system. Producers commonly ask this question to determine if they have a problem, but looking at overall lamb mortality without considering the farm’s production figures and its specific patterns of loss is not very useful. A better approach would be to begin by identifying the pattern of loss and their magnitude. These patterns may show some variation from year to year, but it is common that farm-specific patterns emerge.  Some losses can be greatly reduced with Continue reading

Are Genetics the Key to Dealing with Fescue Toxicosis?

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Noble County

One of the sessions that I attended during the American Forage and Grassland Council at the beginning of 2020 explored the possibility of identifying genetic markers in cattle for tolerance of the endophytic fungus that lives within the KY-31 tall fescue forage, which is the most prominent pasture grass in our region. This endophyte provides survival benefits to the plant, but causes vascular constriction in the animals that can cause mild to severe symptoms and overall reduced productivity. For decades forage managers and scientists have been working on ways to mitigate the impacts of this endophyte on livestock production. Most successes have come from the forage management side rather than the livestock side. We suggest Continue reading

Lambing Time Management

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

Lambing Management:
Frequent visits to the lambing barn
Dystocia has been shown to be a significant cause of lamb mortality. Losses due to stillbirths and dystocia can be reduced by frequent visits to the lambing barn and timely assistance of ewes. Pregnant ewes should be checked every 3-4 hours. If ewes are checked at 11 p.m. or midnight, it is not necessary to check again before 5 or 6 a.m. Ewes that will lamb between these times usually show signs at the late night observation. The lambing area should be dry and well bedded, and sources of cold drafts that will chill newborn lambs should be eliminated. It is not necessary to have a heated lambing barn- a dry, draft-free area is most important. The lambing process can vary considerably between ewes. Ewes in labor should Continue reading

Macro and Micro Nutrients

James Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services
(Previously published on Ohio’s Country Journal: January 22, 2020)

(Image Source: Greenhouse Canada)

A basic understanding of soil fertility is important for high crop production. All crops require seventeen essential nutrients for proper growth and development, the specific amount of each nutrient depends upon the crop. The atmosphere provides hydrogen and oxygen and carbon (most comes from the soil first). The rest must come from the soil and the amount available for a plant depends upon many factors such as the soil type, organic matter, pH, drainage, microbes, temperature, and rainfall. Soil nutrients are absorbed by water being pulled through the plant through transpiration and by roots intercepting the nutrient molecules. Continue reading

Using Refugia to Manage Parasites

Veterinary Practice New
(Previously published on the American Consortium for Small Ruminant Parasite Control web page, January 3, 2020)

With 2020 underway, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says it is continuing its ongoing effort to address issues related to antiparasitic resistance in livestock and horses across the country. Among these efforts are two videos on the subject, directed at large animal producers and owners.

Continue reading

Reduce Lamb Loss

Dr. Jeffery Held, Extension Sheep Specialist, South Dakota State University
(Previously published in the United States Lamb Resource Center: Increasing Your Lamb Crop Series)

Image Source: Lisa Surber)

Introduction
Most sheep producers strive to reduce lamb crop mortality associated with late gestation and newborn lambs. Some consistently keep losses between 5%-10%, while others in a similar production system are 15% or greater year after year. Sheep respond to management more than any other domestic specie, which is apparent during the critical periods that effect lamb mortality. Keeping detailed flock records during lambing season can document the sources of lamb mortality.

The most important step to reduce lamb mortality is to evaluate key production records from current and past lambing seasons. The key benchmarks to monitor are: Continue reading

Global Concern: How to Receive More for Your Wool Clip

David Rowe, General Manager, Mid-States Wool Growers

People raise sheep for a variety of reasons. Most people are drawn to a particular breed because they like the way they look, they wish to show this breed or they know someone who raises this breed. All are good reasons to raise a breed, but the question on how to make money has not even been asked? As we know, the primary reason for most people to raise sheep is to produce a successful lamb crop that can be marketed as well as a wool clip that can be sold. Obviously, the hair breeds will only yield a lamb crop but for the purpose of this article, we will focus strictly on breeds of sheep that yield a wool clip and how we can best maximize our return on the wool we have to market. Continue reading

6 Tips to Make the Most of Forage Analysis

Kindra Gordon, writer for the Dakota Farmer
(Previously published on Dakota Farmer, December 30, 2019)

Extension specialists can help you learn more about forage analysis and interpretation.

Color, smell, texture, leafiness and harvest date can all offer clues about forage quality, but “sensory evaluation doesn’t cut it when it comes to feed analysis,” says Janna Block, a North Dakota State University area livestock Extension specialist based at the Hettinger Research Extension Center.

Block believes forage testing is “worth it every year,” but adds, “If you’ve never tested before, this is the year to do it and invest in the analysis.” She explains that with the variable — and wet — conditions of 2019, forage quality is difficult to discern without an analysis. As Continue reading

Management and Nutrition of the Lactating Ewe and Young Lambs

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

Nutrition:
In winter-lambing production systems, the flock is typically managed to provide rapid early growth of lambs for early marketing. Growth rate of lambs from birth to weaning is largely determined by milk production of the ewe, which emphasizes the importance of good nutritional management during this period. Lactation is also a period in which there is opportunity to control feed costs by feeding ewes according to the number of lambs nursing. During lactation, the ewe’s nutritional requirements for both energy and protein are at their highest level. Therefore, the highest quality hays available should be utilized during this time. Alfalfa hay is an excellent feedstuff during lactation due to its relatively high energy and protein density relative to other forages. In most cases, a grain-protein supplement (such as corn-soybean meal) will also need to be fed in addition to the highest quality hay available. The needed protein content of this grain mix will vary depending on 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

Have You Prepared Your Barn for Lambing?

Dr. Gary E. Ricketts, University of Illinois, Department of Animal Sciences Emeritus Professor
(Previously published with University of Illinois Extension, Illinois Livestock Trail, Sheep and Goats: January 29, 1999)

Although this piece was originally published over 20 years ago, it still holds a lot of valuable information. As we enter the new year, lambs will be soon arriving and with the business of life it’s easy to forget some of the basics. No worries though, this piece will be sure to assist!

Having the barn ready before the first lambs arrive is one way to get the lambing season off to a good start. Not all ewes have a 150-day gestation period. There is considerable variation in Continue reading

Reducing Hay Storage and Feeding Losses

Dr. Jessica Williamson, Extension Forage Specialist, Penn State
(Previously published in Feedlot Magazine)

Storage losses of uncovered hay can be upwards of 30%!

On most livestock operations, the greatest operational cost is stored and harvested feed, so it only makes sense that striving to reduce storage and feeding losses of harvested feeds as much as possible can help improve forage quality, quantity, and overall profitability of an operation. Reducing waste, even by a few percent, can have a direct reflection on farm financial status almost immediately. Dry hay has the potential to meet most ruminant livestock nutrient requirements if Continue reading

Lively Lambs and Timely Vaccinations Go Hand in Hand

Dr. J. Bret Taylor, U.S. Sheep Experiment Station USDA, Agricultural Research Service, Dubois, Idaho 83423
(Previously published on the Montana Wool Growers Association webpage)

(Image Source: Sheep 201)

Lambing season is upon us or soon will be! Whether just beginning, in the midst of, or wrapping up lambing, lamb survival is a concern for all of us. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently reported that the average death rate of lambs from birth through weaning to be nearly 11%! Most of these lambs are lost in the first two weeks of life.

Many troublesome diseases plague neonatal (new-born) lambs. One of these diseases is caused by Clostridium perfringens Type C, which results in bloody scours (diarrhea). Another strain of C. perfringens, Type D, rears its ugly head beginning several weeks after birth when the ewe’s milk production is high and/or lambs gain access to concentrate-type feeds (grain-based supplements or diets). Death caused from Continue reading

Is Fescue Toxicosis a Problem in Hay?

Gary Bates, Extension Forage Specialist and Director of the UT Beef and Forage Center, University of Tennessee
(Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: November 25, 2019)

(Image Source: Hay & Forage Grower)

Tall fescue is the dominant forage species used in the eastern United States. Being a cool-season grass, it provides grazing during the spring and fall for many livestock producers around the nation.

The variety Kentucky 31 (KY-31), released in the 1940s, made a tremendous impact on the forage and livestock industry. Most people familiar with KY-31 tall fescue recognize that it has many positive attributes, but there are also a couple of negative issues that come along with the variety.

A good news, bad news endophyte
In the late 1970s and early ‘80s, it was discovered that KY-31 tall fescue is Continue reading

Tips for Stockpile Grazing Timing, Fencing, and Pasture Size

Victor Shelton, Victor Shelton, NRCS State Agronomist/Grazing Specialist
(Previously published in On Pasture: December 9, 2019)

When to Start
If possible and practical, it is best to not start grazing stockpiled forage until it goes dormant. Until it goes dormant, every time that solar panel of leaves is removed, the plant will draw from the reserves in the roots. If you hurt those reserves too much, and you will set back spring growth. If you don’t allow longer rest period in the spring to allow the plant to build back roots and reserves, you can really hurt your forage stand. There are times where grazing can be beneficial, such as for reducing competition early spring for frost seeded legumes. We will consider it dormant at this point. Continue reading

Ag-note: Small Ruminant Welfare: Early Life Stages

Ariel Taylor, Hailey Snyder, Mackenzie Campbell, and Adam Lannutti, OSU Animal Science Undergraduate Students
Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

Small Ruminant Welfare: Early Life Stages 
** Follow the link above to view the Ag-note.

In this weeks Ag-note, Animal Sciences students Ariel Taylor, Hailey Snyder, Mackenzie Campbell, and Adam Lannutti discuss an important topic, small ruminant welfare during the early stages of life. This topic is of high importance, especially as many producers in the state Ohio approach the lambing season. In today’s society, consumers are becoming more and more interested in the manner in which we manage and interact with our livestock and rightfully so. In general, many members of society are several generations removed from the farm and they are searching for ways to further associate themselves with the products in which they purchase. We want to point out that this discussion is not a way to illustrate who is right or wrong, but rather that

Continue reading

Barn Cameras: A Shepherd’s Saving Grace

Jacci Smith, OSU Extension Educator ANR/4-H, Delaware County

Just imagine: It’s the middle of February, minus 4 degrees outside, and 3:00 am. You roll out of bed, put on your coveralls and boots. Open the door to go check that ewe that wasn’t acting quite right at chore time. That bitter cold hits you in the face and boom you are wide-awake. Once you get to the barn, you look around and there is no lambing action. So you trek back to the house, take off your winter gear and try, and fail, to get back to sleep.

This is why the invention of barn cameras was so vital. Lambing season is a time of year that we all need to be on the top of our game. When you are run down without the proper sleep, this might not be the case. Barn cameras can be an amazing tool that shepherds can have if the right steps are taken. Continue reading

Grafting: A Lamb Saving Management Tool

A. Richard Cobb, University of Illinois, Extension Sheep Specialist
(Previously published with University of Illinois Extension, Illinois Livestock Trail, Sheep and Goats: November 7, 2007)

(Image Source: Premier1Supplies)

Grafting (Fostering) is an alternative for producers who do not enjoy raising lambs on artificial milk. The ability to graft, or switch, a lamb from one ewe to another is a management tool that can save many lambs during a lambing season.

Grafting works best when you have a number of ewes lambing at the same time. When grafting, we are asking one ewe to adopt or accept another ewe’s lamb or lambs. Grafting can be done for many reasons. Examples of situations where removal of one or more lambs will benefit the lambs and the ewe are: Continue reading

Do Sheep Always Need Access to a Fluid Water Source?

Richard Ehrhardt, Michigan State University Extension Specialist, Small Ruminants
(Previously published on MSU Extension, Sheep & Goat: December 16, 2016)

Knowing how much water grazing sheep need access to can help, especially during winter management.

Water is certainly an essential nutrient for life, and it is without question that all animals need water to survive and thrive. To be perfectly clear, I am not questioning whether or not sheep need water, but rather asking the question: When do sheep need supplemental, fluid water from a water source? This question has important implications for how sheep are managed, especially during winter.

The following conditions determine how much

Continue reading

We Harvested a lot of Dirt this Year

Michaela King, Hay and Forage Grower summer editorial intern
(Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: November 26, 2019)

(Image Source: Hay & Forage Grower)

This year’s forage analysis reports are showing more than the usual number of high-ash forages, according to Bill Weiss, Ohio State University Extension dairy nutrition specialist.

Typically, cool-season grasses harvested as hay or silage have about 7% – 9% ash, while legumes harvested as hay or silage average 10% – 12% ash. There are some outside factors that affect the mineral concentrations. As plants mature, the mineral concentration will decline, but forages grown in soils with high levels of available potassium often have higher mineral concentrations. Continue reading

Grass Awns can Cause Significant Medical Problems to Animals

Dr. Tim McDermott, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Franklin County

It seems like foxtail grass has taken over every pasture and hay field in Ohio in 2019.  My good friend and Extension colleague, Clif Martin, wrote an excellent article detailing “How to Fight Foxtail in Forages.” I highly recommend you review this article to learn strategies to manage this weed. If his article is not enough to get you motivated, then hopefully this article will. Foxtail is not only a weed competitor and invader of your hay and pasture fields, but it also can cause some significant medical problems for grazing livestock, horses, and companion animals. Take a close look at the picture of a foxtail awn. It is very tiny as you can see in comparison to the dime placed for reference. Note that its shape is similar to a lawn dart, which means that it can only travel in one direction, point first. Depending on what species variety of foxtail grass present, this places the seed heads with Continue reading

Keep Syringes and Needles Clean and Working During Vaccination

Lisa Guenther, Editor, Canadian Cattlemen, The Beef Magazine
(Previously published in the Canadian Cattlemen, The Beef Magazine: November 7, 2019)

Make sure you protect your vaccine’s effectiveness with a few practical steps.

Getting the most out of a vaccine starts with the syringes and needles.

Dr. Cody Creelman, a bovine veterinarian in southern Alberta, recently held a free webinar on ways to make cattle vaccines more effective. Part of his webinar covered how to keep needles and syringes clean and working well.

Creelman recommends Continue reading

Have your Hay, and Eat it, too

Emily Beal, College of Food, Agriculture, and Environmental Sciences, The Ohio State University

Farmers across Ohio are feeling the brunt of last spring’s unprecedented rainfall. Finding hay that is both affordable and sufficiently nutritious has been one roadblock this year for farmers.

And something even more alarming than rising hay prices could be looming over Ohio farmers: A nutritional deficiency could be sneaking into their herd during this record-breaking year in agriculture.

Continue reading

All Antibiotics for Livestock will Soon Require a Vet’s Prescription

Susan Himes, Communications Specialist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service
(Previously published online on AgriLife TODAY: November 11, 2019)

(Image Source: Farmers Weekly)

No longer will producers who need injectable antibiotics for their [livestock] be able to just grab them at their local feed store or order them online.

The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service wants producers to be aware that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is continuing the phasing in of a law that requires a prescription for any antibiotic use in animals raised for human consumption, as well as for all companion animals.

Prescriptions, livestock and your vet
A prescription is already required for most antibiotics delivered to livestock, and the remaining three categories of injectable antibiotics available over-the-counter will soon be joining the list of medically important antimicrobials that require a veterinarian’s prescription. Continue reading

Do Sheep Really Need Hay?

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team
Dr. Ale Relling, Assistant Professor, Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University
Clif Little
, OSU Extension Educator, Guernsey County

This question has been commonplace this year, especially with the inability of many producers to make hay at a reasonable time. However, this isn’t to say that there isn’t hay to be purchased, because there is, but rather that hay of acceptable quality at a reasonable price is nearly non-existent.

With this in mind, we challenge you to think about how generations before us fed low quality hay. It was simple right? Feed more of the lower quality material and allow the animals to choose which parts of the bale are the best. Then once they have eaten what they want, pitch the rest of it on the ground for bedding. This may be true, but what happens when we aren’t feeding enough of the ‘good stuff’? Continue reading

Feeding Baleage to Small Ruminants

Michael Metzger, Michigan State University Extension Educator
(Previously published on MSU Extension, Sheep & Goat: October 16, 2019)

Baleage offers a low cost, high quality forage option for sheep and goats but care must be taken to reduce health risks.

Many small ruminant producers are looking for ways to reduce feed costs for their herd or flock. Hay prices in Michigan are high after the extremely wet spring followed by a hot, dry summer. As owners look to reduce their forage costs, baled silage or “baleage” is one possible choice, but there are several things to consider when evaluating this choice. Continue reading

A Blast from the Past – Sheep Handling

As we made the trip this morning to the Eastern Agricultural Research Station (EARS) in Belle Valley, Ohio to begin our fall grazing project, I found it fitting to share this video. In 1977, the highlighted handling system in this video was one of a kind in the east and many others began to take notice. Its amazing how handling equipment, techniques, and products used over the years have changed, yet at the same time many of the behavioral theories on how to work animals remain the same. At The Ohio State University, we strive to continue educating ourselves and our producers on the newest technology and latest management practices available. With this film dating back 42 years ago, I think its time that we make an additional one. To this day, sheep production continues to maintain a strong foothold in the great Buckeye state and we are grateful to be a part of it.

Small Ruminant Winter Grazing Management

Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Wayne County
Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

In our pasture for profit grazing schools, it is often said that mechanical harvest of stored forages is about three times more expensive as compared to livestock harvest of forage in a managed grazing system. From this perspective, winter grazing offers an opportunity to improve the bottom line of pasture-based livestock production. The keys to making winter grazing successful depend upon planning ahead to make forage available for grazing, know the nutrient content of forages grazed as well as the nutrient requirements of the grazing animal, and some cooperation from Mother Nature along the way.

In general, winter grazing involves using either 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

Key Points on Sheep and Goat ID

United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS)

Owner/Hauler Statements
On March 25, 2019, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) updated its scrapie regulations and program standards through the publication of a Final Rule in the Federal Register and the Scrapie Eradication Program Standards, Volume 1, which included updating identification requirements for goats and certain record keeping requirements for sheep and goats. These rules apply to sheep or goats that are moving or have moved in interstate commerce, that have resided on premises where interstate commerce is conducted, or that are owned by people who engage in interstate commerce. This includes animals moved though markets or other sites where interstate commerce occurs even if the particular animal has not left the state.

Official identification is now required for Continue reading

Sharpen your Shepherding Skills with Bred Ewe Lambs!

Tim Barnes, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Marion County

As we approach the end of the typical breeding season here in Ohio, there is still a group of sheep that shepherds may consider breeding prior to the coming of the new year. Depending upon who you ask, it seems like everyone has their own opinion on breeding ewe lambs. If you recall the article from Susan Schoenian that we shared last year, To Breed or Not to Breed, Susan explains that breeding young stock allow you and your operation to exploit reproductive and genetic potential. In the same breath, do note that breeding young females may also result in some production inefficiencies such as reduced milk production and potentially dystocia issues where it may require more labor from a management standpoint. Of course its nice to breed during the latter portion of the breeding season as this allows for your ewe lambs to be more mature at the time of breeding in addition to lambing these ewes down during the spring when hopefully the weather is more desirable to work in. Regardless of your situation, it may be worth taking a look into breeding your ewe lambs yet this year. Below, Tim Barnes has provided us with a quick list of points to consider when breeding ewe lambs. Continue reading

Feeding Sheep Whole or Processed Grains

Christoph Wand – Beef Cattle, Sheep and Goat Nutritionist/OMAF
(Previously published on Ontario, Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs)

What is the proper way to feed grain – whole or processed?. It depends on many factors such as the age (or weight) of the animal, the grain source and overall diet. Before getting to some usable rules of thumb, here is some background on why processing matters, and some general theory.

What is processing?
‘Processing’ means milling or rolling grain. It is also inferred by cracking, grinding, hammer-milling and so on. Generally, it can be assumed that processing adds about $10 per ton to the diet cost, due to labor, power use and machinery upkeep.

Sheep are ruminant animals; they are designed to Continue reading

Nitrate and Oxalate Poisoning

Karin Neff, Andy Hulting, Mylen Bohle and David Hannaway, Oregon State University Extension Service
(Previously published on the Oregon State University Extension Service web page: Pests, Weeds, and Disease: April 2018)

(Image Source: Michigan State University Extension)

Plants absorb nitrates from the soil and metabolize them to form plant proteins. If plants absorb excess nitrates and are consumed by livestock before they are converted to proteins, nitrate poisoning can occur. Forage crops that are over fertilized before being harvested or grazed can be a common cause of nitrate poisoning. However, excess nitrate accumulation also occurs readily in some common pasture weeds. Nitrate concentration can vary widely among plants and growing conditions. Nitrates are highest in plants in mornings and evenings, and on cool, cloudy days (when plant metabolism is slower). Drought, fertilization and nutrient deficiency can result in nitrate accumulation in plant tissues. Highest concentrations occur generally in stems, rather than leaves, flowers or fruit/seed.

Continue reading

Copper Deficiency in Sheep and Cattle

Government of Western Australia
(Previously published online: Agriculture and Food, Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development)

Yes, you read the title correctly. Contrary to common belief, sheep do have a requirement for copper. Although their requirement for supplemental copper may be lower than other ruminant species, excluding this mineral from the ration of a sheep diet can result in serious health issues.

Copper is an essential trace element for animals needed for body, bone and wool growth, pigmentation, healthy nerve fibers, and white blood cell function.

There are two main causes of copper deficiency in sheep

Continue reading

Be Aware of Late-Season Potential Forage Toxicities

Dr. Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist, The Ohio State University
(Previously published in the C.O.R.N. Newsletter 2019-33)

Livestock owners feeding forage need to keep in mind potential for some forage toxicity issues late this season. Nitrate and prussic acid poisoning potential associated with drought stress or frost are the main concerns to be aware of, and these are primarily an issue with annual forages and several weed species, but nitrates can be an issue even in perennial forages when they are drought stressed. A few legumes species have an increased risk of causing bloat when grazed after a frost. Each of these risks is discussed in this article along with precautions to avoid them.

Nitrate Toxicity
Drought stressed forages can accumulate toxic levels of nitrates. This can occur in Continue reading

Hay Quality Indicators

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Noble County

The drastic swing in temperatures from one day to the next last week should remind us all that it truly is autumn and that winter is coming. The challenges of the 2019 forage production season continue to add up. With drought conditions across the state for the past two months, what was too lush for too long, is now crunchy and brown. Some producers are already feeding hay to their livestock, some are hoping that the forage they have stockpiled for late-fall/winter grazing will pay off. Hopefully it will with a little rain.

We ended 2018 with the lowest stock of stored forages since 2012 and the fourth lowest in the past 70 years. I don’t think 2019 has been much help. Quality forage is in short supply and high demand. Which means all forage has increased in monetary value by the ton. Continue reading

Tips for Selling Sheep and Goats Through Public Livestock Auctions

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

According to a 2001 NAHMS study, 56.8 percent of sheep operators sell their lambs through auction markets/sale barns. This percentage is probably higher in the Eastern U.S., where direct sales to packers and feeders are less common. For example, a 2003 study showed that 73.5 percent of West Virginia sheep producers market their lambs through livestock auctions. The percentages of goats sold at livestock auctions is probably similar, though a higher percentage of goats may be slaughtered on-farm.

There are many advantages to marketing livestock through a public livestock auction, sale barn, or stockyard. It is convenient and easy. There are usually regular weekly sales. Sometimes, there are special graded sales or sales that cater to the increased demand for sheep and goats prior to various religious holidays. 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

Can a Fungus, Aspergillus oryzae, Improve the Performance and Carcass Characteristics of Finished Lambs?

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

In a continually changing society, today’s consumer is much different in the way they make purchasing decisions when compared to their parents, especially when it comes to the meat case. Go ahead, list some examples of the marketing strategies you have seen at your local and chain retail grocery stores. Labels such as organic, pasture raised, and no hormones added are just a few. As an example, I’m sure that many of you are familiar with Certified Angus Beef, but have you heard of their new line – Certified Angus Beef Brand Natural? Natural. A simple word that appeals and resonates with some many people. These beef products follow the same 10 specs that all beef must achieve in order to be marketed as Certified Angus Beef in addition to no antibiotics or added hormones. I understand the concept behind the label, consumers are looking for a wholesome, natural product that is raised in a manner in which we have reduced the use of antibiotics, thus decreasing the potential for the development of antibiotic resistance.

In the same breath, according to a 2017 USDA survey, approximately 12% of American households remain food insecure. This figure increases Continue reading

Out-of-Season Lambing

James Thompson, Oregon State University, Retired Sheep Specialist
(Previously published on the Oregon State University Extension page: August, 2018)

Fall or out-of-season lambing involves breeding ewes in April and May to produce lambs in September and October. The inability of most breeds of sheep to cycle and breed in the spring to early summer is a major constraint for success in this endeavor. Despite this fact there are producers that are successful in getting a high proportion of their ewes to lamb in the fall. Some of the benefits for attempting to have ewes lamb in the fall include:

  1. Forage availability for ewes in early lactation;
  2. Weather conditions are ideal for pasture lambing; and
  3. Lambs born at this time of the year hit market weights when supplies are low and generally sell for a higher price.

Continue reading

Grazing Cover Crops with Small Ruminants

Practical Farmers of Iowa
(Previously shared by Practical Farmers of Iowa: December 7, 2018)

Sheep producers can take advantage of down times between cash crops to provide inexpensive feed options in the form of cover crops. But farmers must decide where these feed options fit in the ewe production cycle. Dr. Richard Ehrhardt will discuss factors farmers should consider, appropriate infrastructure for grazing sheep on cover crops, and the cover crop mixes best suited for sheep. Understanding how to properly use and feed different types of cover crops will be more important than ever before with the continued issues of securing quality stored forages.

Dr. Richard Ehrhardt is the small ruminant extension Specialist at Michigan State University. He has an extensive sheep production background in forages, cover crops and annuals; accelerated production; and nutrition and health. In addition, he and his family operate an accelerated lambing commercial flock.

Multi-species Grazing can Improve Utilization of Pastures

Jodie Pennington, Small Ruminant Educator, Lincoln University, Newton County Extension Center
(Previously published on Extension – Goats, August 14, 2019)

Multi-species grazing is the practice of using two or more livestock species together or separately on the same pasture-land in a specific growing season. With an understanding of the different grazing behaviors of each species, various combinations of animals can be used to more efficiently utilize the forages in a pasture. Different species of livestock prefer different forages and graze them to different heights. Cattle tend to be intermediate grazers. They graze grasses and legumes and bite with their mouth and tongue. Sheep and horses graze closer to the ground than cattle. Sheep and goats eat forbs (brushy plants with a fleshy stem) and leaves better than cattle or horses. Many weeds in a grass pasture are forbs. Cattle and horses tend to graze grasses better than small ruminants such as sheep and goats. Continue reading

2019 Ohio State Fair Carcass Lamb Results

2019 Lamb Carcasses Final
For those directly involved in the livestock business, exhibiting your animals at the county, state, or national level is always an exciting venture. In Ohio, the Ohio State Fair is a great opportunity to allow our youth to showcase their summers hard work by exhibiting their market lamb projects. While winning a purple banners is the goal for most, we must not loose sight of what the ultimate end product will be from our livestock projects. This year, our team was able to capture the carcass results from the Breed Champion Lambs at the Ohio State Fair in real time using this unique video. Remember, regardless of the species, your livestock project goes beyond ring appeal.  For those of you with questions regarding carcass quality and evaluation, feel free to contact us. Enjoy!

Find the Right Cool-season Annual Grass

Michaela King, Hay and Forage Grower summer editorial intern
(Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: August 20, 2019)

They say that repetition is the key to learning. Over the past several months, Extension educators and researchers have discussed and provided many options for producers to increase the amount of high quality forage that can use to feed their livestock with for the upcoming year. Be sure to take a quick look at this short piece as it quickly outlines some of the important basics of some common forages options and soil health considerations.

When Southern warm-season grasses go dormant and become unproductive, there are a wide variety of cool-season annual grasses that can be used to extend grazing periods into the winter and spring months. Continue reading

Water Quality Problems that Affect Livestock Production

Sandy Smith, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Carroll County
(Previously published in Farm & Dairy, August 22, 2019)

(Image Source: Farm & Dairy)

We have all been really concerned with the effects that the unpredictable weather has had on forage production this year.

First, we had so much rain and even flooding that delayed forage growth and quality haymaking. Now we are experiencing areas of semi-drought conditions in some areas.

We all have had places in our counties that it rained 3 inches in one area and three miles down the road, or less as the crow flies, they may only have received a half an inch. Continue reading

Shepherds Can Manage for Cache Valley Virus

Micky Burch, livestock producer
(Previously shared on Premier1Supplies Sheep Guide)

(Image Source: Premier1Supplies)

It seems that in our part of the country—west central Iowa, that is—Cache Valley Virus (CVV) has been most prevalent just in the last couple of years. Until the lambing season of 2011, I’d personally never even heard of CVV. But that spring, many producers across the state seemed to have been hit with the disease to some degree. We were lucky; only one lamb born on our place had to be pulled with the assistance of a veterinarian and an epidural, producing a mummified lamb. Some other folks I know weren’t so lucky and lost a large percentage of their lamb crop to the debilitating disease. Continue reading

Investments for Animal Feeding: Fence vs. Implements

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Noble County

Years like 2019 can test farmers and ranchers to the brink of insanity. People in this profession must be resilient to the unpredictability of weather, markets, and the general chaos of life. All year thus far, we have discussed many ways to adapt our animal feeding programs, pasture systems, and hay production to the far from ideal conditions we are facing.

By now, I hope you have read articles, listened to podcasts, watched videos, talked with your neighbors and your local Ag. Extension educators about what to do next. Crop selection, site management, and soil health have been huge topics addressed regarding cover crops for prevent plant acres, damaged pastures, weeds, poor quality hay, feed shortages, and much more!

But, I’m going to take this article a different direction… Continue reading

Hoof Care—Treatment and Prevention

Susan Schoenian, Sheep & Goat Specialist, University of Maryland Small Ruminant Extension Program
(Previously shared on Premier1Supplies Sheep Guide)

Hoof care is an important aspect of sheep production and management. Hoof diseases can affect the health and welfare of sheep and have a negative effect on productivity. Hooves should be regularly checked for disease and excess growth. Animals which have excessive hoof growth, recurrent hoof problems and/or fail to respond to treatment should be culled.

Hoof trimming
Hoof growth—and thus, the need for hoof trimming—is affected by many factors, including breed and genetics, soil moisture and characteristics, management and nutrition. Sheep grazed on Continue reading

Weed and Brush Control: Myths and Mistakes

Scott Flynn, Field Scientist, Corteva Agriscience
(Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: May 21, 2019)

Weed and brush encroachment into pastures and hayfields can lower the ability to meet nutritional needs of most livestock operations. Over time, most producers eventually reduce animal numbers or supplement herds to compensate for forage loss. Meanwhile, a shortened grazing season and a need for more hay is realized as pastures decline. I often tell producers looking for more grazing acres that the cheapest pasture acres they will ever buy are the ones they gain when weeds and brush are controlled.

Most producers recognize the negative impacts of weeds on forage production and seek to control these invaders. However, Continue reading

How to Feed and Use Poor Quality Hay

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team
Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Wayne County

Realities of hay produced in 2019:
Persistent and frequent rains not only led to delayed planting, but they also foiled the best-laid plans of sheep producers to take a timely first cut hay harvest. As a result, significant acres of first cut hay was baled in late June and even well into July. Overly mature is one way to describe this hay, but whatever the description, most producers recognize this hay is of poor quality. The big question many producers are facing now is how and when to best use this hay? Some have suggested the best use is bedding material. This is a valid consideration, particularly with high straw prices as hay has an absorbency factor (value used to describe the water holding capacity of a material) of 3.0, which is greater than that of wheat straw which sits at 2.1. It is important to note that the initial moisture content of these materials when tested was less than 10%. For those that Continue reading

Late Summer Establishment of Perennial Forages

Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Wayne County
Dr. Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist, The Ohio State University

We are quickly approaching the second good opportunity of the year for establishing perennial forage stands, which is in the month of August. Most of us were not able to establish forages this spring, and many existing stands were damaged by the winter followed by the heavy rainfall this year. It is time to make preparations and be ready to plant perennial forage stands in the next few weeks.

Typically, the main risk with late summer forage seedings is sufficient moisture for seed germination and plant establishment. However, many parts of Ohio have adequate soil moisture from recent rains, and the outlook for the first half of August is for normal precipitation levels. Prepare now and be ready to take advantage of planting ahead of storm fronts as they occur in late July and early August. Continue reading

Preparing Low Worm-risk Paddocks

Wormboss
(Previously published on Wormboss, Tests and Tools, Management Tools, Sheep)

Problem: Continuous re-contamination of the paddocks with worm eggs that develop to larvae is a major cause of ongoing worm problems for sheep or goats.

Solution: Preparing low worm-risk paddocks to prevent animals from becoming heavily infected with worms is a key strategy in effective and profitable worm control.

Benefit: Low worm-risk paddocks for key classes of stock at particular times of the year reduce both production loss and the need for chemical (de-worming) intervention. In turn, fewer [treatments] result in Continue reading

Ram Behavior

Jackie Lee, 2019 DVM Candidate, The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine

(Image Source: Stonehaven Farm)

We have all heard the stories of shepherds who have been injured or even killed by rams unexpectedly. The best way to avoid these situations is to prevent them. Knowing normal ram behavior, what promotes ram aggression and methods to mitigate aggression will facilitate producer safety. As a brief aside, there were very few scientific and text resources that impart advice on ram safety and incident prevention, therefore much of this article is attributed to the personal experiences and opinions of myself as well as my colleagues and mentors.

Rams have many typical behaviors that most producers are Continue reading

Can Veggies Stand in for Poor Hay this Year?

Chris Penrose, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Morgan County

Many of us have harvested hay way past its prime this year, the protein and energy is low, and the fiber is high. There is a way to balance the needs of our ruminants this fall by planting some veggies.

Turnips, rape, kale, rutabagas, and swedes are all examples of some veggies from the brassica family we can plant for livestock for feed this fall with turnips being the most common.

Many studies and producer experiences reinforce that brassicas are a viable option to extend the grazing season, and reduce stored feed costs. They tend to have good protein and energy, and are low in fiber (see how this can make for good feed supplemented with poor quality hay). Continue reading

For Sheep Producers, a Trace of Trace Minerals Worth a Pound of Cure

Whit Stewart, Extension Sheep Specialist, University of Wyoming
(Previously published in Barnyards & Backyards, July 2018)

As summer progresses and forage quality declines, we are quick to think of shortfalls in protein and energy in nutritional management yet tend to overlook micronutrients such as trace minerals. Even though these are required in relatively smaller quantities than protein and energy, they are essential for basic physiological functions and should be prioritized.

Essential macro minerals, including calcium, chloride, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and sulfur make up major components of skeletal and nervous systems and are usually expressed as a percentage of the diet. In contrast, micro minerals, or trace minerals, are required Continue reading

Rain Damage to Hay

Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Wayne County

(Image Source: Staheli West)

It’s turned into another challenging and frustrating year to make hay as above normal rainfall continued through the end of June. I recently read an article in Hay and Forage Grower on-line entitled “Cursing the raindrops”, in which author Mike Rankin addressing this year’s weather patterns said, “Those putting up high-moisture forage have an uphill battle. If you’re in the dry hay business, it’s a Mount Everest situation.” The age-old question for anyone trying to make hay with rain in the forecast is mow sooner rather than later and risk rain on the cut forage, or wait for a weather break and lose quality as the forage continues to mature?

Rain on mowed forage causes a reduction in quality and can result in dry matter (quantity) losses as well. According Continue reading

Supplementation of Pasture-Raised Lambs Increases Animal Performance and Health

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

To capitalize on the niche market of grass-fed lamb products, have you ever considered placing a group of feeder lambs on pasture? The utilization of pastureland and the financial return from grass-fed products makes this type of production system profitable. However, grass-fed lamb production does not come without challenges. According to the USDA, in order for a product to be labeled as grass-fed, the animal must be fed solely forages, with the exclusion of its mother’s milk prior to weaning. From a production standpoint, this can be a difficult as research has shown that lambs finished on pasture take a longer period of time when compared to their counterparts fed grain. Lambs on pasture also face the challenge of parasitic infection. In an effort to decrease the effects of parasites and increase lamb body weight gain on pasture, producers may choose to supplement lambs while on pasture. However, supplementation of grain or grain by-products is not permitted by Continue reading

Planning Ahead: There is Still Time to produce Quality Feed for the Winter

Chris Penrose, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Morgan County

We are starting to get an idea of how much stored feed we will have for the winter and in many circumstances, the quality will be low. Even if our livestock get plenty of hay this winter, the quality may be so low that the hay cannot meet their nutritional needs. There may need to be supplementation. We have a couple options: we can purchase supplements, utilize harvested crop residue, or we still grow some crops for fall and winter supplementation.

One product many producers buy is protein tubs. While the animals really like these products, it does not address their most pressing need: energy. The most commonly used product used to supply energy is corn. Adding some corn or Continue reading

Feeding Moldy Hay can Create Problems in Livestock

Feedstuffs staff
(Previously published on Feedstuffs on June 24, 2019)

(Image Source: Feedstuffs – Oklahoma State University)

Adverse weather conditions during or after baling can allow mold growth, but pastures may also pose contamination risk.

With the abundance of rain that has fallen in the Midwest over the last several weeks, farmers and ranchers are likely dealing with moldy hay and spoiled feed. Moldy or spoiled feed can present a health risk for multiple species, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension equine specialist Kris Hiney said.

“Hay can be unfit for livestock due to excessive moisture while baling or exposure to the elements, such as excessive rain or flooding. Molds present in the feed may contain mycotoxins, which can cause significant health issues,” Hiney said. “While only some molds produce Continue reading

Assessing your Pastures – Both Above and Below the Surface

Tony Nye, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Clinton County

Having issues with your pastures? A soil test is always a great place to start!

Now is the time to start assessing the overall conditions of your pastures to decide what management steps must be taken to continue having a productive pasture for the coming year. Looking at the overall pasture composition becomes an important step to determining if any improvement is necessary.

What is the percent of bare ground exposed? Is it due to heavy traffic, over grazing, poor drainage or poor fertility? What is the amount of grass to legumes throughout the pasture? Do you have a lot of weeds? These are some important questions that we need to ask ourselves as we continue to battle challenging pasture and weather challenges this year. Continue reading

Summer Management of Replacement Ewe Lambs

Dr. Scott P. Greiner, Professor and Extension Animal Scientist, Beef/Sheep, Department of Animal & Poultry Sciences, Virginia Tech
(Previously published with Premier1Supplies)

Successful development,breeding, and lambing of ewe lambs is one of most important tasks of the shepherd. Summer is a critical time for the development of replacement ewe lambs as they make the transition from weaning to members of the breeding flock. Proper management of replacement ewe lambs during this time is critical to their future productivity and profitability.

In most breeding systems, replacement ewe lambs will be generated from within the flock. Therefore, attention to maternal traits in the rams siring potential replacements is critical. Additionally, preference should be given to crossbred ewe lambs. Crossbred animals have two major advantages over straightbred animals: 1) Crossbred animals exhibit heterosis (hybrid vigor), and 2) Crossbred animals combine the strengths of the breeds used to form the cross (breed complementarity). Crossbred females are superior to straightbreds for reproductive performance due to advantages received from heterosis. Crossbred ewes exhibit significant advantages Continue reading

Nutritional Flushing of Small Ruminants – Preparing for Fall Breeding

Washington State University Extension, Animal Agriculture
(Previously published on the WSU Extension Animal Agriculture page)

Introduction
Flushing isn’t just an aspect of indoor plumbing—it’s also part of a well-managed flock’s nutrition and reproduction program. This article will address the why’s and how’s of flushing sheep and goats.

Flushing Defined
What is flushing, anyway? The term describes a temporary but purposeful elevation in the plane of nutrition around breeding time. Its objective is to boost ovulation, conception, and embryo implantation rates. Flushing may also increase the proportion of females that exhibit estrus. Boosting these rates increases lambing and kidding rates by Continue reading

Improve Summer Pastures with Crabgrass

Michaela King, Hay and Forage Grower summer editorial intern
(Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: June 18, 2019)

(Image Source: Noble Research Institute)

After being brought to the forefront by studies done at the Noble Research Institute (Ardmore, OK), crabgrass began gaining favor as a high-quality forage alternative. Many farmers are now considering it for improving summer pastures.

In an Arkansas Dairy e-News article, John Jennings, an extension forage specialist with the University of Arkansas (UA), notes crabgrass is a warm-season annual and, depending on rainfall, produces 2-5 tons of dry matter per acre. Crabgrass hay is typically better quality than Continue reading

Grazing Management – Reducing the Use of Anthelmintics

Wormboss
(Previously published on Wormboss, Tests and Tools, Sheep)

Problem:
Continually high worm burdens in your grazing animals resulting in the need to drench more frequently.

Solution:
Managing the frequency and intensity with which livestock graze pasture reduces the number of infective larvae ingested from the pasture each day.

Benefit:
Effective grazing management will reduce the exposure of vulnerable sheep to larvae on pasture and the need for chemical (drench) intervention and at the same time provide nutrition to allow sheep to better deal with parasites. Continue reading

Diarrhea (Scours) in Small Ruminants

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

(Image Source: National Animal Disease Information Service)

Diarrhea is defined as an increased frequency, fluidity, or volume of fecal excretion. The feces may contain blood or mucous and be smelly. The color of the feces may be abnormal. However, it is not possible to definitively determine the infectious organism by looking at the color, consistency, or odor of the feces. A definitive identification requires a sample for microbiological analysis.

In livestock, diarrhea is called scours. There can be many causes of diarrhea: bacterial, viral, parasites, and diet. Continue reading

Don’t let 2019 be a Barn Burner

Michaela King, Hay and Forage Grower summer editorial intern
(Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: June 11, 2019)

This spring has not been a kind one to farmers; it’s wet, and the forecast continues to call for more rain. Fields are being left unplanted, and hay is losing nutritional value with each passing day.

If current weather patterns continue, this sets up a scenario where hay harvest moisture is pushed to the limit or cut hay gets rained on.

Do you bale wet hay with the risk of it heating and producing mold, or do you continue to let the nutritional value of the crop drop? Continue reading

Use FAMACHA Correctly

Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Wayne County

Pulling from the archives, we found it timely and appropriate to share this piece from our very own Rory Lewandowski as he reviews the benefits of implementing the FAMACHA© eye scoring system in your operation. Here at the university, we began our summer grazing project with 96 lambs, all of which will be FAMACHA© eye scored every 14 days over the course of the study as one of five measurements to track parasitism. Proper use of the of the FAMACHA© eye scoring system will be sure to prove beneficial to you and your flock/herd over the course of this grazing year.

A number of sheep and goat owners have been trained across Ohio in the use of the FAMACHA© eye scoring system, yet problems with internal parasites, in particular, with Haemonchus contortus continue. This is to be expected. 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

Forage Analysis: What Numbers Do I Need

Justin W. Waggoner, Kansas State University
(Previously published in The Stock Exchange News: May 30, 2019)

One the more common questions I receive with regard to analytical testing of forages and other feedstuffs is, “I have the sample, now what do I test for or what analysis package should I select?”

The basic components that nutritionists need to evaluate a feedstuff or develop a ration are dry matter or moisture, crude protein, an estimate of the energy content of the feedstuff — Total Digestible Nutrients (TDN), Net Energy for Maintenance (NEm), Net Energy for gain (NEg), and the macro minerals, Calcium and Phosphorous. These are the most basic numbers that are required, but Continue reading

Feeding Long-fed Lambs: The Effect of Energy Source and Level, and Sex on Growth, Performance, and Carcass Characteristics of Lambs

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

If you recall from last week, Jaborek et al. (2017) investigated how feed source and amount of feed offered per feeding affected lamb growth, performance, and carcass characteristics. In that experiment, lambs were fed to live weights of 130 – 140 lbs. and were fed for approximately for 100 days. This system is representative of the Eastern US sheep production. However, this system does not apply to all producers. For those producers that decide to retain lambs for an extended period of time beyond this typical market size and condition, lets try to understand how the number of days on feed affects lamb growth, performance, and carcass characteristics summarizing a paper by Jaborek et al. (2018) that fed lambs for an additional length of time (218 days on feed total). Continue reading

Feeding Lambs: The Effect of Energy Source and Level, and Sex on Growth, Performance, and Carcass Characteristics of Lambs

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

As the month of May comes to an end, there are two thoughts that come to mind. One, early born lambs raised indoors on grain are approaching market appropriate condition (live body weight and fat cover). Two, according to the Ethnic Holiday Calendar provided by the Maryland Small Ruminant program, Eid ul-Fitr (the Festival of Fasting Breaking for the Muslim faith) begins in two weeks. With this being said, shepherds with available lambs may consider selling their lambs in order to capitalize on the increased market value of lamb as a major ethnic holiday approaches just prior to the summer slump. However, marketing lambs towards this type of niche market can be challenging as some holiday dates continuously change from year to year. Although it is too late for this year to change your diets, feeding program, and management practices, it is important to consider what diet your lambs are being fed in order to achieve these marketing goals for the future. Therefore, in order to understand how sex, feed source, and amount of feed offered per feeding affects lamb growth, performance, and carcass characteristics, this week Jaborek et al. (2017) provides us with the data to do just that. Continue reading

Heat Stress in Small Ruminants

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

Over the past weekend, my family and I spent some time installing a new water line to give us access to more grazing area. As we spent most of both days in the sun, I began to work on 2019’s farmers tan. As I write this up, my arms are still feeling the heat of the weekend. With this being said, I thought that it would be timely to talk about heat stress in our favorite livestock species, sheep and goats. Any time we talk about feeding livestock, we note the importance of fresh, clean water. This is always a given regardless of the time of year. There is also discussion about wool on sheep during the summer months. Wool is actually quite beneficial when it comes to protecting against the hot summer sun. For more on these two topics and others related to heat stress, be sure to check out this weeks discussion provided by Susan Schoenian.

Extreme heat is stressful to livestock, as well as people. High temperatures are even more problematic in states like Maryland, because high temperatures are also often accompanied by high humidity. The heat index (temperature + humidity) is a more accurate measure of heat stress (hyperthermia) than temperature alone. Continue reading

Emergency Forages for Planting Early to Mid-Summer

Dr. Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist, The Ohio State University
Dr. Bill Weiss, Dairy Nutrionist, The Ohio State University

Many forage stands were damaged this past winter, and the wet spring has further deteriorated stands that appeared they might recover. It is now too risky to try to establish perennial forages, with the warmer summer weather at our doorstep. We should wait until August to establish perennial stands. Meanwhile, what options can we consider for growing forage this year?

We are also well past the time when cool-season species like oats, triticale, Italian ryegrass, spring barley can be planted. As we move into late May and early June, we must switch to planting warm-season species. Continue reading

Control Pasture Weeds Now

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Noble County

With the combination of sunny warm days and more than adequate rainfall received so far in May, grasses and legumes in our hayfields are beginning to flower. Which means, according to our knowledge of grass maturity and forage quality, it’s already time to make hay. If the weather will cooperate, that is.

It’s also prime time to control pasture weeds. Thistles, docks, ironweed, asters, poison hemlock, and cockleburs are up and actively growing. Control on these species is most effective when 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

Some Guidelines to Remember when Making and Feeding Haylage

John Cothren, County Extension Director and Extension Agent, Agriculture – Livestock and Field Crops, N.C. Cooperative Extension, Wilkes County Center
(Previously published on North Carolina Cooperative Extension: December 29, 2014)

(Image Source: Hoard’s Dairyman)

With the continued wet conditions we have been experiencing in Ohio, I find it appropriate to discuss how to harvest and manage our forages in different manners in order to maintain forage quality. This week, John Cothren dives into some important guidelines to remember when making and feeding fermented forages.

Silage makes an excellent feed for ruminant animals. However, feeding silage is much different than feeding hay. Silage, Continue reading

Wet Pastures? Do this

Hay and Forage Grower Staff
(Previously published on Hay & Forage Grower: September 4, 2018)

It’s a dilemma that happens to nearly every livestock producer at one point or another: Copious amounts of good forage to graze coupled with soils that have been saturated by unrelenting rainfall.

In such situations, business as usual may result in permanent damage to the paddock and its soils. The problem is exacerbated when summer or winter annuals comprise the forage source. Continue reading

Johne’s Disease in Small Ruminants

Michael Metzger, Michigan State University Extension Educator
(Previously published on MSU Extension, Sheep & Goat: January 3, 2019)

(Image Source: NADIS)

Johne’s is a serious disease that affects small ruminants.

Johne’s disease is a fatal gastrointestinal disease of sheep and goats and other ruminants (including cattle, elk, deer, and bison) that is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP). Also known as paratuberculosis, this infection is contagious, which means it can spread in your flock or herd. Young animals are more susceptible to the disease than adults. It is primarily spread by the fecal-oral route but may also be transmitted across the placenta and through milk and colostrum of infected ewes and does. The most consistent clinical sign in sheep and goats is Continue reading

Establishing New Forage Stands

Dr. Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist, The Ohio State University

This month provides one of the two preferred times to seed perennial cool-season forages, the other being late summer. Two primary difficulties with spring plantings are finding a good window of opportunity when soils are dry enough before it gets too late and managing weed infestations that are usually more difficult with spring plantings. The following 10 steps will help improve your chances for successful forage establishment in the spring. Continue reading

What are Your Bedding Options?

Jason Hartschuh, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Crawford County

Wheat fields are finally turning green. As we do stand evaluations, many producers are weighing poor stands versus their need for livestock bedding. As you weigh your options, be sure to consider alternative agronomic crop fodder or cover crops as a bedding source. The two most common beddings, wheat straw and sawdust, are both already in short supply across the state of Ohio.

Precut Rye Straw
The first harvestable option is to look at cover crops you or a neighbor have planted. One option that has gained some popularity is precut rye straw. If your wheat stand is present, but not thick enough to take to head, you could follow these same principles making Continue reading

Use Sound Grazing Practices to Reduce Overgrazing and Weeds

Linda Geist, University of Missouri Extension
(Previously published in Drovers Newsletter: March 10, 2019)

Weed problems may explode this year thanks to the drought of 2018 and residual problems associated with overgrazing in parched pastures, says University of Missouri Extension agronomist Valerie Tate.

Last year’s extreme weather conditions created a forage shortage. As a result, many pastures were overgrazed. Continue reading

Focusing on Grazing Management and Soil Health

Jason Johnson, Public Affairs Specialist, USDA NRCS
(Previously published online in Wallaces Farmer: April 15, 2019)

Row crop farmers are beginning to focus more on improving soil health on their land for long-term sustainability. But according to USDA soil health and grassland specialists, livestock producers can also implement soil health practices to improve their pastures.

Many Midwest farmers are using soil conservation practices like no-till farming, cover crops and extended crop rotations to improve soil health on cropland. Similarly, livestock producers can adopt practices traditionally meant for forage improvement to feed microorganisms and add organic matter to the soil. Practices like rotational grazing, interseeding and forage harvest management help improve both forages and soil health. Continue reading

Combination De-wormers: The Time is Now

Dr. Ray Kaplan, Professor of Parasitology, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia
(Previously published on American Consortium for Small Ruminant Parasite Control, January 2017)

(Image Source: American Consortium for Small Ruminant Parasite Control)

There now is very strong evidence that using combination treatment is the best method for using de-wormers and should be instituted on all farms immediately.

Resistance to de-wormers is a fact of life, and the situation has worsened greatly in recent years. Surveys indicate that most farms have worms resistant to at least two of the three major groups of de-wormers. Many have resistance to all three groups, and some farms now have resistance to all available de-wormers. But, having worms in your animals that are resistant to de-wormers does not mean that all the worms are resistant. For instance, when all the commonly used de-wormers were first introduced, their efficacy was > 99%. Once efficacy falls below Continue reading

The Importance of Water and its Source

Callie Burnett, M.S. Animal and Veterinary Sciences, Clemson University
(Previously published in AGDAILY: March 29, 2019)

The importance of water as a factor in livestock production.

Although it’s “officially” spring according to the calendar, it may be a bit too early for me to extend my congratulations to you for making it through what many of us would call a rough winter. We’re close, but I certainly don’t want to jinx it. Depending on where you’re located, winter is still hanging around and with winter weather comes the not-so-joyous task of “breaking the ice,” literally. If you’re a herdsman or livestock producer, it’s very likely that you’ve had to spend a decent portion of your early mornings breaking ice in buckets, stock tanks, waterers, and the like. Sometimes, despite our greatest efforts, those things just aren’t able to stand up to the (sometimes below) freezing temperatures. Continue reading

Trace Mineral Deficiency

Jeff Cave, District Veterinary Officer, Agriculture Victoria, Wodonga
(Previously Published on Agriculture Victoria: Sheep Notes)

(Image Source: Jeff Cave – Sheep with Swayback)

Have you ever wondered whether your stock have a trace mineral deficiency?

Trace minerals such as copper, cobalt, selenium, and iodine are only required in small amounts but are still essential for optimal production, and for life. In contrast, macro-minerals such as calcium and phosphorus are required in larger amounts. Trace mineral deficiencies arise when the amount of the mineral in the food that is available for absorption by the animal through their gut is insufficient to meet their needs.

Growing animals have the highest demand for Continue reading

Early-Spring Planted Forages

Dr. Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist, The Ohio State University
Dr. Bill Wise, Extension Dairy Specialist, The Ohio State university

Although this article was written with the intent to serve dairy farms in times of need when feed resources are low, this information can easily be applied to any type of ruminant grazing system. For those that are looking for ways to increase their forage nutritive value, a new species of quality forage to graze, or simply looking for something new to use, be sure to check out this piece on alternative spring forages that can be planted on-farm this spring!

Challenging growing conditions in 2018 left many dairy farms looking at short forage supplies heading into the 2019 growing season. So, what are the options for short-season forages planted in early spring this year? Continue reading

On-farm Parasite Management Strategies

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

If you recall the article (Understanding Parasites on Pasture) from last week, we discussed the parasite life cycle and factors that affect overall survivability and of parasites on pasture. As promised, this week we will dive into a list of parasite management practices that producers have available in order to protect their herds and flocks from the losses associated with parasitic infection. With this being said, I’d like to first start with why previous recommendations that relied heavily on the use of de-worming (anthelmintic) products as a means of controlling parasites is no longer a viable option.

In short, because of the continual use of anthelmintic products, the livestock industry is being faced with Continue reading

5 Reasons Why Soil Biology Matters on the Farm

Jeff Goodwin, Conservation Stewardship Leader and Pasture and Range Consultant
(Previously published with Noble Research Institute; March 13, 2019)

(Image Source: Noble Research Institute)

Success and long-term viability for most agricultural enterprises ultimately hinges on the health of their soil. This is true for beef operations in the Southern Great Plains to row crop farms in the Midwest.

For decades, the agriculture industry has focused, studied, and ultimately understood the physical and chemical characteristics of our soil resource (e.g., soil texture, soil pH, etc.). However, until the past few years, little emphasis has been placed on the biological constituents and their importance in a healthy, functional soil. Continue reading

Understanding Parasites on Pasture

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

Image of an adult Haemonchus parasite recovered from the abomasum of a lamb

Recently, I had a sheep producer ask me, “when do I need to start thinking about parasites on my pastures?” This is a great question and certainly a valid concern as livestock are making their way to pastures this spring.

Now I know what some of you are thinking, “I don’t have issues with parasites. If I did, my sheep would be showing clinical signs of disease such as decreased appetite, decreased  activity, or even death.” However, this is a common mistake that we as producers make too often. Typically, clinical signs of parasitic infection are only noticed when the cases become severe. According to Dr. Thomas Craig, DVM, PhD, DACVM, most losses associated with parasitic infection are 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

Prepare to Evaluate Forage Stands for Winter Injury

Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Wayne County
Dr. Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist, The Ohio State University
(Previously published in the C.O.R.N Newsletter)

Forage stands will begin spring green-up in the next few weeks, especially in southern Ohio. While winter injury in forages is very hard to predict, this winter has presented some very tough conditions for forage stands. This is especially true of legumes like alfalfa and red clover. Producers and crop consultants should be prepared to walk forage stands early this spring to assess their condition in time to make decisions and adjustments for the 2019 growing season.

We had some days with very cold air temperatures, but the soil temperatures have been much more moderate than you might expect. The soil temperature at the 2-inch depth is associated with the temperature of plant crowns. The coldest 2-inch soil temperatures recorded since January 1 at The Ohio State University Agricultural Research Stations occurred in late January to early February, falling to 17.8 F at Continue reading

Preparing Your Pasture for Spring

Dr. Jessica Williamson, Extension Forage Specialist, Penn State University
(Previously published on the Penn State Extension webpage: March 17, 2015)

Now is the time to capitalize on warm, early spring days.

As the blanket of snow that covered the majority of the state throughout the winter continues to melt away, seedlings of perennial forages will begin to emerge from the ground, reflecting a hint of green across pastures as a reminder that spring is on the way. When planning to get your pastures ready for spring, the earlier the planning begins the better.

Soil Fertility
Applying fertilizer according to your fall soil sample will ensure optimum pH and Continue reading

The Effects of Dietary Acidity and Sulfur on Feedlot Lamb Performance Fed Dried Distillers Grains with Solubles

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

Last week we featured the article “Benefits to Adding DDGS to Small Ruminant Diets” that outlined several research projects highlighting the benefits of adding dried distillers grains with solubles (DDGS) to sheep and goat diets. As bio-fuel production continues to be a viable industry, understanding how to efficiently and effectively utilize by-products from this industry will be key in livestock feeding profitability.

For those that took the time to view all the links provided in the text, you would have noticed that a couple of those projects were based here at The Ohio State University. Within the US Grains Council report, one summary in particular from Continue reading

BioWorma® US Launch

BioWorma® Team Press Release

The day is here!

(Image Source: BioWorma® Team)

We are happy to announce that the first shipment of BioWorma® and Livamol® with BioWorma® has now been received and cleared meaning we are now open for business in the U.S. with our first official distributor being Premier 1 Supplies, located in Iowa. We expect to add a number of distributors/suppliers shortly.

We are actively looking for farm re-sellers (Livamol with BioWorma®) and veterinarians (BioWorma®) to supply and support BioWorma®. For further information, please contact info@bioworma.com. Continue reading

Weaning Practices that Limit Stress on Ewes and Lambs

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

A few simple steps preparing for weaning can minimize the stress to both ewes and lambs in your flock.

A few simple steps will help these lambs, and their mothers, get through weaning with a minimum of stress.

Ewes baaing, lambs crying, and shepherds wishing for quiet: will the noise never cease! These are all signs that weaning is commencing. However, some of that baaing and crying can be minimized if shepherds take a few simple steps to prepare for weaning. And, this can limit the stress to both ewes and lambs in the flock.

Weaning practices should Continue reading

Benefits of Adding DDGS to Small Ruminant Diets

Minnesota Bio-fuels Association
(Previously published on the Minnesota Bio-fuels Association webpage: March 1, 2017)

February was National Lamb Month! And we took this annual opportunity to highlight the benefits that DDGS continue to provide within the sheep industry.

A reminder that DDGS or (dried distillers grains with solubles) are a high protein animal feed and one of the co-products made during ethanol production. In Minnesota, every bushel of corn produces about 2.8 gallons of ethanol, 18 lbs. of DDGS and 1.5 lbs. of corn oil. In 2016, Minnesota produced 3.5 million tons of dried distiller’s grains.

The majority of the starch from corn is removed during the process of producing ethanol so the resulting DDGS co-product are a high-energy feed source of concentrated protein and high fiber. According to Iowa State University’s Center for Agricultural and Rural Development, DDGS contain 10 percent to 15 percent more energy than corn grain. Continue reading

Forage Varieties Matter

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Noble County
(Previously published in Progressive Forage, January 30, 2019)

At A Glance:
When you are in the market for forage seed, get prepared before you drive to the co-op to shop. Variety is an influential factor in the success or failure of your forage stand.

Species vs. Variety vs. Cultivar
If you are not familiar with binomial nomenclature (the international language for naming plants), lets clarify the differences between species, variety, and cultivar, which are all terms you will encounter during seed selection.

Species
L. H. Bailey, the author of the Manual of Cultivated Plants, defines species as Continue reading

Tips for Detecting Disease or Injury in Sheep and Goats

Richard Brzozowski PhD, Anne Lichtenwalner DVM PhD, and Jim Weber DVM PhD, Cooperative Extension and School of Food and Agriculture, University of Maine
(Previously published as a Bulletin on The University of Maine Cooperative Extension page)

As a sheep or goat producer, you know that the health of your animals is essential for optimum performance and profitability. You will likely use 4 of your 5 senses (sight, smell, touch, and hearing) in detecting disease or injury of your livestock. Building skills and knowledge to quickly identify signs of poor health of your livestock can help in their early treatment and recovery. Some individuals have the innate ability to interpret signs and symptoms of animals while other people have to work at mastering the interpretation of different situations. Take notes or photos of normal and abnormal animal conditions as these could help you improve your skills and abilities. Organize this information to help remember past circumstances and treatments. Several tips to help you interpret normal and abnormal health conditions of sheep and goats are listed below for your possible use. This list may be helpful when discussing sick animals with your veterinarian over the phone. Continue reading

Making Pasture and Forages Work for Sheep

Dean Oswald, University of Illinois Extension, Animal Systems Educator
(Previously published on Sheep & Goats, Illinois Livestock Trail, January 15, 2010)

Although the original publication of this article was over nine years ago, it still contains useful tips and suggestions when thinking about creating and maintaining pastures for small ruminant production. As we begin to prepare for the 2019 growing season, some of these tips may help you outline the next step in your pasture management program. To view the outlined check lists provided, click below to continue reading. Continue reading

Tube Feeding Small Ruminants

Dr. Susan Kerr, WSU NW Regional Livestock and Dairy Extension Specialist
(Previously published on Washington State University – Whatcom Ag Monthly page)

Tube Feeding Neonatal Small Ruminants: An Essential Skill for Sheep and Goat Farmers

(Image Source: Dr. Susan Kerr – Washington State University)

Introduction
Lambing and kidding are well under way. It is essential that sheep and goat producers learn how to tube feed young animals. This simple procedure can often save a young animal’s life, thereby increasing lambing and kidding crop rates and enhancing profitability. With a brief amount of instruction and a little practice, even children can perform this crucial task quickly, safely and effectively.

Indications
When is tube feeding necessary? Continue reading

Worm-Trapping Fungus

James E. Miller, DVM, Ph.D., Emeritus Professor, School of Veterinary Medicine, Louisiana State University
Joan M. Burke, Ph.D, Research Animal Scientist, USDA-ARS
(Previously published on American Consortium for Small Ruminant Parasite Control, January 2019)

(Image Source: duddingtonia.com)

Nematode-trapping fungi have demonstrated potential as a biological control agent against the immature (larval) stages of gastrointestinal nematodes (worms) in livestock feces under both experimental and natural conditions. These fungi are normal soil inhabitants throughout the world where they feed on a variety of non-parasitic soil worms.

Of the various fungi tested, Duddingtonia flagrans spores have been shown to survive passage through the gastrointestinal tract of ruminants. After defecation, the spores Continue reading

Coccidiosis: Diagnosis, Treatment, and Control

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

Coccidiosis: deadly scourge of lambs and kids

(Image Source: Susan Schoenian, Maryland Small Ruminant Page)

Coccidiosis is a parasitic disease affecting a variety of animals, especially mammals and birds. The causative organism is a microscopic, spore-forming, single-cell protozoa called coccidia. Coccidia are from the same class of organisms (sporozoa) that cause malaria. Coccidia are sub-classified into many genera. In sheep and goats, coccidiosis is caused by the genus Eimeria [6].

Within this genus, there are more than Continue reading

Fact Sheet: Late Gestation/Early Lactation Ewe Nutrition

Dr. Reid Redden, Extension Sheep and Goat Specialist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service
Reviewed by: Dr. Dan Morrical, Sheep Extension Specialist, Iowa State University
(Previously published online as a Let’s Grow Fact Sheet)

Although it may be a bit late this year to change your ewe feeding and management programs, I still find it important to share as you observe your flock this year. Are your ewes in a good body condition score? If not, what could you have done differently to improve? Supported by the Let’s Grow program through the American Sheep Industry, Dr’s Reid Redden and Dan Morrical provide us with some helpful tips to keep our ewes in good shape to prepare for late gestation and early lactation.

Improper nutrition during the last month of gestation and early lactation can have devastating effects on lamb survival and productivity. Most of which occur when ewes are in a poor body-condition score (BCS) entering the last trimester of pregnancy. Therefore, ewe-feeding strategies to maintain productivity and survival of lambs starts well before this critical time period.

Late Gestation Facts: Continue reading

Mastitis in Sheep and Goats

Michael Metzger, Michigan State University Extension Educator
(Previously published on MSU Extension, Sheep & Goat: January 3, 2019)

Mastitis in sheep and goats is important because it can reduce productivity of the animals and farm profitability.

Mastitis is an important disease of sheep and goats because it decreases the amount and quality of the milk produced by a dairy animal and reduces weight gain in lambs and meat kids. It can also affect the animals well-being. Mastitis is an inflammation of udder. Physical injury, stress, or bacteria can cause mastitis. There are several bacteria which are known to cause mastitis in sheep and goats including Streptococcus sp., Staphylococcus sp., Pasteurella sp., and coliforms, such as E. coli. The exact type of bacteria that is causing the mastitis can only be determined by laboratory analysis. Mastitis can either be clinical or subclinical. Clots or serum in the milk are signs of Continue reading

Practical Aspects of Improving Lamb Survival

Matthew Ipsen, Nuffield Scholar
(Previously published online on Making More from Sheep)

The reproductive performance of ewes is certainly an economically important trait in any commercial enterprise. Attention should be paid to the care of pregnant ewes and their lambs before, during and after birth.

Ensuring the nutritional demands of ewes during each stage of pregnancy, will result in the greatest “return on investment” in terms of maximizing the reproductive performance of sheep and in improving lamb survival.

Improving the nutrition of pregnant ewes will Continue reading

A Biological Trick for Fostering Lambs and Kids: Birth Canal Stimulation

Natasha Pettifor, Cornell University, Department of Animal Science, PhD candidate
(Previously published on extension.org, September 22, 2015)

(Image Source: Natasha Pettifor, extension.org)

Convincing a reluctant new dam to accept an orphaned or rejected lamb or kid can be tricky. Many strategies for “fostering” or “grafting” are frustrating and too often unsuccessful. A technique called vagino-cervical stimulation (VCS), a.k.a. birth canal stimulation, can be helpful and increase the rate of successful grafting. The goal of VCS is to convince the ewe or doe’s body and brain that she is giving birth to another infant. When done correctly, she will bond as strongly and quickly to the grafted lamb or kid as she would to an infant just born to her.

This technique requires a ewe or doe that has given birth within the last 24-26 hours. The more recently she has given birth, the easier the task will be for all involved. Success rates also increase with decreasing lamb or kid age. It is best if the lamb or kid to be grafted is covered in amniotic (birth) fluid. If the lamb or kid is Continue reading

Effects of Dietary Fat in Lamb Feeding Diets

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

If you recall from an article published earlier this month, Dr. Relling and his lab investigated the effects of supplementing fat to gestating ewes. Dr. Relling’s lab compared the supplementation of saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA’s – calcium salts of palm oil) to polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA’s – eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids) on the performance of lambs who’s dam were fed these fatty acids. Through their experiments, Dr. Relling’s lab demonstrated that lambs reared from ewes supplemented with PUFA’s had greater weight gains and therefore a greater economical value when compared to lambs reared from ewes supplemented with MUFA’s.

In taking these points into consideration, producers may Continue reading

Winter Grazing Stockpiled Forages and Frost Seeding

Victor Shelton, NRCS State Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

It is 45 degrees outside today as I write this article. I normally appreciate mild winter weather, but when it rains, and temperatures remain above freezing, except for a frivolous teasing of heavy frosts, a pasture can get pretty ugly. I for one wouldn’t mind a little free concrete right now, you know, frozen ground. For many of us, 2018 was an extremely wet year. Some parts of Indiana, including where I live ended up with over 60 inches of rain. That makes me think of a Clint Eastwood quote, “If you think it’s going to rain, it will.”

Strip grazing stockpiled forage is usually a delight. Of course, it is best accomplished under dry or frozen conditions. If the pasture of stockpile is heavy (at least 3,000 pounds of dry matter per acre), then it can often be grazed even under fairly wet conditions without too much long-term damage but, you will need to have a watchful eye. 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

Cold Water, Cold Livestock

Heather Hamilton, editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup
Article compiled from Journal of Animal Science articles from K-State and the University of Missouri
(Previously published on the Wyoming Livestock Roundup)

Although Ohio and Wyoming weather conditions may differ, this weekends cold spell put shepherds to the test as lambs continued to hit the ground. Ensuring that our small ruminants have an ample supply of fresh water is on every producers check list, but monitoring water temperature may not be. Water temperature may play a bigger role than you thought before. To learn more, be sure to read on below!

It’s cold during Wyoming winters and producers utilize many production practices to reduce weather impacts on livestock. Providing warm water to livestock during cold months is an option that can increase water intake and reduce energy needs. 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

Foot Rot and Scald

Michael Metzger, Michigan State University Extension Educator
(Previously published on MSU Extension, Sheep & Goat: December 21, 2018)

Foot rot and foot scald in goats and sheep.

Foot rot and foot scald are contagious diseases of the hooves in goats and sheep.

According to Michigan State University Extension Educator Mike Metzger, a cool wet fall can increase foot scald and foot rot in small ruminants. Foot scald and foot rot are costly diseases in the sheep and goat industries. Producers lose significant time and money every year attempting to control it in their flock or herd. If foot rot and/or foot scald becomes a problem on your farm it takes a lot effort and labor to control symptoms and eliminate it. However these conditions are preventable with good management. Continue reading

Winter Feeding of Small Ruminants

Dr. Chelsey Ahrens, Specialty Livestock/Youth Education Specialist, Arkansas Extension
(Previously published as a fact sheet with the Division of Agriculture, Research & Extension, University of Arkansas)

Winter Feeding of Sheep and Goats: General Rules of Thumb for Gestating and Lactating Females

Knowing the nutritional requirements of females during the various stages of production allows producers to ensure females are performing at optimal levels. Since females are typically in late gestation and/or lactating during the winter months, when their nutritional needs are the highest, it is even more important to ensure the females are obtaining the proper roughages and/or grains in their diets. Below are Continue reading

Taking a Measured Approach to Lamb Production

Gail Keck
(Previously published in Ohio Farmer: December 20, 2018)

(Image Source: Ohio Farmer)

The first step in DNA analysis is linking a gene with performance characteristics.

Old photos on the office wall at Bunker Hill Farm show the Shultz family’s history of success in breeding and showing high-quality sheep. For most of the farm’s history, visual appraisals guided selection and breeding programs, but these days Bill Shultz and his wife, Susan, would rather rely on estimated breeding values (EBVs). Visual appraisals are still useful to spot lambs with disqualifying defects, but looks can be deceiving when evaluating growth rates, fat thickness, and Continue reading

Keeping Newborn Lambs Fed and Warm

Jeff Held, South Dakota State University Sheep Extension Specialist
(Previously published on iGrow, a service of SDSU Extension)

Newborn Lamb Care Management.

Proper newborn lamb care is a critical component of flock profitability. In the U.S., lamb mortality from all causes is approximately 20% with more than 80% of those losses occurring in the first two-weeks following lambing. Yet a solid lamb care management plan coupled with a few key tools in the lambing barn can sharply improve the number of lambs reared per-ewe. Generally, the top causes for newborn lamb losses are starvation, hypothermia (cold stress), respiratory disease, and scours followed by injury. Theoretically, these categories each stand alone, however the reality is often two-or-three of these occur simultaneously. Producers that develop a lambing time-management plan to incorporate appropriate lambing tools and gain key skills on newborn lamb care will benefit from less labor input and expense with a greater number of lambs weaned. Continue reading

Colostrum is Key

Michael Metzger, Michigan State University Extension Educator
(Previously published on MSU Extension, Sheep & Goat: February 12,2013)

(Image Source: Premier1Supplies)

Colostrum is the key to raising healthy goat kids and lambs.

Ensuring goat kids and lambs get enough colostrum at birth is imperative to getting them off to a good start.

One of the most important functions of colostrum (first milk) is to provide kids and lambs with antibodies (immunoglobulins) that provide passive immunity for the first two months of life. Newborn lambs and kids, like other mammals, are born with no antibodies of their own and rely on those provided by the mother in colostrum for protection.

Protection provided by Continue reading

Creep Feeding Primer

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

(Image Source: Susan Schoenian, Maryland Small Ruminant Page)

Creep feeding is a means of providing supplemental nutrition to nursing lambs and kids. It is accomplished by giving lambs and kids access to extra feed or better pasture, while excluding their dams.

Lambs and kids that are born in the winter months are often creep fed, since pasture is usually not readily available. Show animals are typically creep fed, in order to get them bigger for show.

Creep feeding is recommended for accelerated lambing and kidding programs, in flocks and herds where there are a lot of multiple births, and anytime milk production is a limiting factor. Artificially-reared lambs and kids should be creep fed to facilitate early weaning. Creep feeding is also advisable when Continue reading

Cull Ewe Checklist

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

On my way into the office last week, the radio broadcaster made the comment that we are experiencing January like temperatures here in December and I’d have to say that I couldn’t agree more. With this comment, I started to think about how shepherds are managing their flocks with the recent fluctuations in temperature coupled with a shortage of pasture and quality hay. I image that many are turning to feeding concentrate diets, which certainly isn’t a problem, but can become costly when feeding potential cull ewes.

A cull ewe is a female within the flock that is no longer benefiting your operation. This ewe may have failed to become pregnant (open) or has some other underlying issues that are not allowing her to perform to her greatest potential. With Continue reading

Listeriosis Control and Prevention

Michael Metzger, Michigan State University Extension Educator
(Previously published on MSU Extension, Sheep & Goat: November 28,2018)

Listeriosis is a disease that can affect all ruminants, as well as other animal species and humans.

Listeriosis is an important infectious disease of sheep and goats. It most commonly causes encephalitis but is also capable of causing blood infections and abortion.

Listeriosis is caused by the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes and is commonly seen in cooler climates. These bacteria can be found in the soil, food sources and even the feces of healthy animals. Most commonly, this disease of sheep and goats is observed as a result of feeding moldy or spoiled hay or silage. It’s possible for sheep and goats to become infected without feeding moldy or spoiled hay or silage, as it is also found in the environment. The bacteria are very hardy and are common in soil.

Possible locations of Listeria monocytogenes bacteria: Continue reading

Pregnancy Toxemia (a.k.a. Ketosis)

Dr. Susan Kerr, WSU NW Regional Livestock and Dairy Extension Specialist
(Previously published on Oregon State University Small Farms page)

Pregnancy Ketosis

New producers of small ruminants often learn about pregnancy ketosis first time the hard way—with a dead dam, fetuses or both. This article explains the causes of pregnancy ketosis (a.k.a. toxemia) and more importantly—how to prevent it.

This ewe had milk fever, but advanced pregnancy ketosis would present similarly: a down and depressed animal with poor appetite. Lack of complete recovery after calcium treatment and results of ketone tests would help differentiate these two conditions. Also, milk fever usually occurs after lambing and pregnancy ketosis before. Photo courtesy Susan Schoenian, University of Maryland Extension.

(Image Source: Oregon State University Small Farms page)

Sheep and goat fetuses add 70% of their final birth weight in the last six to eight weeks of gestation. A singleton increases a dam’s nutritional requirements by 1.5 to 2 times maintenance in the last trimester. Multiple fetuses greatly increase energy demands on their mother: twins require 1.75 to 2.5 times maintenance requirements and triplets demand up to 3 times maintenance. Twins and triplets are common in some breeds of sheep and goats; quadruplets and even more are not uncommon in Boer goats, Finnsheep and Romanov sheep. Continue reading

Infectious Causes of Abortion in Ewes

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

There are many things than can disrupt a healthy pregnancy in a ewe. While it is common for about 25% of embryos to die or be reabsorbed the first three weeks of pregnancy up to the time of implantation, these are the most crucial in establishing healthy pregnancies. The nutritional requirements of ewes during early gestation is only slightly more than maintenance requirements, but it is essential that the flock not be exposed to any undue stresses.

It appears normal for about 1.5 to 2.0% (up to 5%) of the ewes in a flock to abort. Abortion rates significantly above this level cut into profit potentials, as what may start out as a few isolated cases can quickly escalate into an abortion “storm,” resulting in 20-30% percent abortions or as high as 80% lamb mortality. Continue reading

Preparing for Winter

Michael Metzger, Michigan State University Extension Educator
(Previously Published on the Michigan State University Extension page: November 15, 2017)

Preparing goats and sheep for winter weather.

Most goats and sheep spend most of their time outside, but livestock that live outside may need special care when the winter weather sets in.

All animals need some kind of shelter even if it is only a windbreak. They need a place where they can get out of the wind. Shelter can include a building, a three-sided shed or even just a tree line. Ideally, goats and sheep should have access to some type of free choice shelter with a roof so they can get in out of the rain and snow. Continue reading

Help Lambs Beat the Winter Chill

Written by the Milk Products team, Chilton, Wisconsin
(Previously published in Morning Ag Clips: November 5, 2018)

(Image Source: Premier 1 Supplies)

With winter here and lambing season near, below are a few quick tips on how to keep your lambs warm and healthy this winter.

Keep lambs growing in cold weather by managing environment, nutrition, and health.

As the temperature drops and snow starts falling, it is time to start thinking differently about how we care for lambs. For sheep raisers in cold climates, winter is a time to take special precautions to ensure lambs grow healthy and strong.

“Despite the lamb’s built-in wool blanket, winter can be Continue reading

Hay Quality Concerns: Trash vs. Treasure

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Noble County

That saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” usually does not apply to hay, but with as difficult as haymaking was in Ohio this year, it may be true.

The “man” mentioned could be yourself in 2017 versus yourself in 2018. Based on what is available this year, you may be inclined to lower your standards of hay quality to make it through the winter.

But, how low is too low when it comes to hay quality? The answer depends on your class of livestock, their nutritional needs, and your access to supplemental feed.

Without knowing the actual nutritive value of the hay, all recommendations are relative and subject to error. The only way to confidently adjust your feeding program in relation to hay quality is to have hay analyzed by a laboratory. Continue reading

Hay Buying Help and Preparation for Next Year

Garth Ruff, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Henry County

With last week’s rain showers leaving much of the area saturated, there were limited opportunities for farming or even yardwork. I took advantage of the soggy conditions here in NW Ohio and headed south on Friday to a fairly productive couple of days in Morgan County. We had a good chance to winterize and store all of the hay equipment and tractors that we typically don’t use during winter time.

Regarding hay implement storage, we make an effort blow off the chaff, seeds, and dust with a leaf blower shortly after use and then pressure wash the piece prior to pulling in to the machinery shed for the down season. Once everything is cleaned off, each machine is greased and gear boxes are checked for fluid levels. Any major repairs or maintenance such as 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

Ohio Weather – Manage Forages Accordingly

Victor Shelton, NRCS State Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

Make plans for how to adapt for changes in weather.

I mentioned last month that there are still plenty of good growing days left this fall and they need to be taken advantage of. One of the first things to do to make sure you obtain as much plant growth as possible, especially with perennial forages, is to stop grazing forages that will continue to grow for a while, especially forages that will stockpile like tall fescue. Now, I don’t think anyone would’ve predicted it would be almost 70 degrees the day before Halloween. I remember quite well going Trick-or-Treating as a kid with snow on the ground a few times. It’s not the same weather pattern these days, that’s for sure.

Whether you believe in global warming or not is a deeper subject than I really want to get into in one of these articles, but it’s not hard to see though that Continue reading

Winter Ewe Management Tips

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

Last week, Scott shared his thoughts on how to manage the ewe flock during mid to late gestation. Join us this week as Scott provides some helpful tips to think about as many approach pre and post lambing here in Ohio.

Lambing season is fast approaching. Management of the flock around lambing time is critical to ensure a health, vigorous lamb crop. The following are some important considerations as lambing season commences:

4-6 Weeks Before Lambing
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

Ewe Management Tips: Mid and Late Gestation

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

Some important topics to consider with the beginning of lambing season just around the corner.

Proper management and nutrition of the ewe flock during mid and early lactation are critical for optimizing flock productivity and profitability. Balanced nutrition, coupled with proper management during gestation is important for fetal development, lamb vigor and survival at birth. Additionally, proper nutrition during gestation is important to prevent nutritional disorders which may impact the health and performance of the ewe and her lambs, and influences milk production of the ewe.

There are several factors that affect the nutritional needs of the ewe during gestation, with primary considerations for: Continue reading

Livestock Winter Hay Needs

Dr. Susan Kerr, Washington State University, Northwest Regional Livestock and Dairy Extension Specialist
(Previously published on the Oregon State University Small Farms Page)

Livestock producers can often realize feed cost savings by purchasing their entire winter hay supply at one time. Obtaining an entire feeding season supply from a new hay crop certainly beats underestimating needs and having to cobble together purchases of more hay in late winter, when demand may outstrip supply and quality may be variable. There are four critical aspects of large hay purchases: knowledge of how much to purchase, adequate storage capacity, ability to work with the hay producer’s schedule and capital to make the purchase.

A few simple calculations can help livestock producers estimate how much hay they will need to get them through the winter. Estimates are based on Continue reading

Beware of Frost-damaged Forages

Sandy Smith, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Carroll County
(Previously published in Farm and Dairy: October 25, 2018)

Last week, we experienced our first frosts of the season in some areas of Ohio, but I don’t think anyone has experienced the real killing frost yet.

When some forages freeze, changes in their metabolism and composition can be toxic to ruminant livestock. The two problems that can occur are prussic acid (hydrogen cyanide) poisoning and bloat.

Beware of poison

First, I want to write about prussic acid or cyanide poisoning. Sorghum-related plants such as grain sorghum, sorghum-Sudan grass and Sudan grass varieties can contain toxic levels of cyanide after a frost. Johnsongrass, black cherry and elderberry can also develop toxic levels of prussic acid after a killing frost.

Light frost can stress plants, but do not kill them entirely can also cause cyanide poisoning. Continue reading

Risks of Nitrate Poisoning in Pastures

Mark Johns and Barry Yaremcio, Ag – Info Centre, Alberta Agriculture & Rural Development
(Previously published on Alberta.ca – Agriculture and Forestry: February 26, 2018)

This past weekend I had a question from a sheep producer asking why he was loosing several ewes unexpectedly. Further into the conversation, he also mentioned that he figures on losing a dozen ewes during this time (fall) each year. My response to this was “has there been any instances of frost over the course of time that you have been loosing ewes and what types of forages are in your pastures?” Of course without visually seeing these animals and not having any lab work or even a field necropsy performed, it is hard to say what the exact cause of each case may have been. However, as we begin to move into colder temperatures with periods of frost and with producers potentially spreading manure prior to the winter months, it is important consider how these scenarios can affect plant species in your pastures. With this being said, the scenario listed above could have been the result of nitrate poisoning. To learn more about this issue with grazing livestock, check out this Q&A session provided by Mark Johns and Barry Yatemcio.

How does nitrate get into the forage?
Continue reading

Ewe Winter Feeding Systems, the Long Term Effects on Lamb Performance

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

As we approach the winter months, I find it timely to discuss what types of feedstuffs are available to feed gestating ewes. Last fall I published a summary from Radunz and others (2011) that covered the effects of winter feeding systems on ewe performance which can be found by clicking this link. For those not able to access the link, three different diets were fed to gestating ewes during the last 90 days of gestation which consisted of either forage (haylage), grain (limit fed corn), or by-products (limit fed dried distillers grains). After birth, all ewes were fed the same lactation diet.

From an economic perspective, feeding by-products proved to be roughly $0.01/head/day cheaper than Continue reading

Now is a Great Time to Manage Fescue

Chris Penrose, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Morgan County

If fescue is a problem on your farm, now is a great time to get it under control. I think it is good to start off talking about why it is a problem, how did it get to be a problem, are there some redeeming qualities, and finally, how to get it under control if it is a problem.

Why it is a problem?

If you have “infected” fescue, animals may develop health problems and result in reduced performance. This is caused by a microscopic fungus (endophyte) in the plant that produces alkaloids and problems for animals. Horses can have prolonged pregnancies, little milk production, abortions, and other problems. Ruminants can have hoof loss, increases body temperatures, rough hair coats or fleeces, and other internal issues. Continue reading

Breeding for Out-of-season Lambs to Fill in the Industry Gaps

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

A few months ago as a part of the ‘Let’s Grow’ initiative sponsored by the American Sheep Industry Association, Dr. Reid Redden, Sheep and Goat Specialist with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, presented a webinar focusing on the seasonality of the US lamb industry. This webinar was an overview of the recently published industry white paper that can be viewed fully by viewing this link. During his presentation, Dr. Redden covered both Traditional and Non-traditional markets that US producers have access to. He also presented several figures that outlined the time of year that lamb is most commonly consumed as well as when each specific cut of lamb is consumed. Rather than focusing on these highlights from Dr. Redden’s presentation, toady we will be focusing in on the production aspects of aseasonal or out-of-season breeding.

According to a 2011 USDA report, approximately 85% of all US lamb is produced Continue reading

Save Money, Use Livestock to Harvest Hay

Mark Landefeld, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Noble County
(Previously published in Farm and Dairy: October 3, 2018)

As we move into the fall season, how much longer will your livestock be able to graze forage from your hay and pasture fields? Have you prepared stockpiled forages?

Are you able to utilize your livestock to take that last growth of forage off your hay fields rather than using equipment? Not using equipment to make a last cutting of hay, not having the livestock in pasture fields right now and not feeding hay for a while yet seems to be a winning combination all the way around.

Everyone’s situation is different and many producers are not able to get livestock to every hay field. Nevertheless, where you can use livestock to harvest forage from hay fields, production costs can be reduced. Continue reading

Chronic Copper Poisoning in Sheep

Dr. S. John Martin, Veterinary Scientist, Sheep, Goat, and Swine
(Previously published on the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs web page)

How does chronic copper poisoning (CCP) occur?
Sheep are the domestic animal most prone to CCP. They absorb copper from the diet in proportion to the amount of copper offered, not to the body’s need as with the absorption of other minerals. Any excess absorbed copper is stored in the cells of the liver, eventually reaching toxic levels. Levels in the liver above 500 ppm dry weight are usually considered toxic. This storage in the liver can take months or even years to reach a toxic level. The elimination of copper from the body through the kidneys is slow.

Even then, it needs a stress to release the copper. This stress can be weather, poor nutrition, transportation or handling. The liver cells rupture, releasing copper into the blood stream. There are suggestions that excess liver copper can Continue reading

Biennial and Perennial Weed Control is Best in the Fall

Dwight Lingenfelter, Extension Associate, Weed Science, Penn State University
William S. Curran,Ph.D., Emeritus Professor of Weed Science, Penn State University

Fall is an excellent time to manage biennial and perennial weeds. In particular, biennials such as common burdock, wild carrot, and bull, musk, and plumeless thistles are much easier to kill while they are in the rosette stage of growth, prior to surviving a winter. Once biennials start growth in the spring they rapidly develop with the goal of reproducing and it becomes more difficult to control them.

As you have heard many times before, late summer and fall is the best time to control most perennials with a systemic herbicide they move into root systems allowing better control. In general, the application window runs from Continue reading

When Should You Harvest Small-grain Forage?

James Isleib, Michigan State University Extension
(Previously published in The Stock Exchange News: September 24, 2018)

Decide what you need between yield and quality, then watch those small-grain forages closely to harvest them at the desired growth stage.

Farmers plant small-grain forages in two basic systems. One is as a nurse crop for a perennial hay crop such as alfalfa. A second is as a stand-alone annual forage crop. Harvest decisions depend largely on the system used. If the small-grain forage is a “nurse crop,” then the effects of the harvest decision are based on what is best for the perennial hay crop underneath. Leaving the nurse crop in place too long can create serious competition for the developing perennial hay crop.

Many farmers choose to remove Continue reading

Are Your Sheep Consuming Enough Calcium?

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

(Image Source: Ketcham’s Sheep Equipment)

Minerals are essential to support skeletal and nervous system functions. But, have you balanced your current mineral program lately with the forages and other feeds that your sheep are consuming?Top of Form

Most forages and a good quality mineral mix meet nutritional requirements of mature ewes. But, ewes will need additional mineral supplements, particularly during the last third of gestation.

The only way to truly evaluate a mineral program is to start with testing forages and other feeds consumed by the sheep. Assess nutrient levels using 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

Ag-note: Niche Marketing – An Agriculture Alternative

Murphy Deutsch, Emily Starlin, Breanna Sharp, Eric Moore, OSU Animal Science Undergraduate Students
Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

Narrowed Niche Markets in the Ohio Lambing Industry: An Agricultural Alternative
**Follow the link above to view the Ag-note.

This weeks Ag-note comes from OSU students Murphy Deutsch, Emily Starlin, Breanna Sharp, and Eric Moore as they discuss a topic that is unique to the small ruminant industry, niche marketing. One of the greatest benefits that small ruminants producers have here in the state of Ohio is the endless opportunity to marketing their livestock products to several different consumers. Whether you are producing breeding stock, show lambs, wool and fiber, or meat products, you will certainly be able to find your niche.

Before we get into the details of these types of markets, first we must ask, “What exactly is niche marketing?” Niche marketing can be described as Continue reading

PEM or “Polio” in Small Ruminants

Richard Ehrhardt, Small Ruminant Extension Specialist, Michigan State University
(Previously published on the Michigan State University Sheep and Goat Extension Page)

(Image Sourece: MSU Extension, Sheep and Goats)

Understanding how to prevent and treat Polioencephalomalacia (PEM) in sheep and goats.

Polioencephalomalacia (PEM) is also known as cerebrocortical necrosis (CCN) and is a relatively common nutritional disorder in sheep and goats. A common name for this disease in sheep and goats is “polio”; however, it has absolutely no relationship with the infectious viral disease found in humans (poliomyelitis). Cases of PEM can be successfully treated if detected early in the disease course, making recognition of early symptoms a critical issue for sheep and goat producers.

Causes of PEM
The most common cause of PEM is 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

Autumn Grazing Tips for Extending the Growing Season

Victor Shelton, NRCS State Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

The older I get, the more I tend to philosophize about things. I’ve been asked a few times why I am such an advocate for sound grazing practices. Best management grazing practices, just like conservation practices for reducing or preventing soil erosion on cropland, help preserve and or regenerate resources not only for present generation, but also for future generations. Keeping a field in forages will save more soil and conserve more water than almost all other erosion control practices. As the world population continues to increase and the acres of viable land that we can grow food on continues to decrease, we have to be more efficient and more productive with what remains while also maintaining and improving water quality. Food quality and nutrient density need to also improve. Continue reading

Ag-note: Benefits of Rotational Grazing

Matt Blose, Marissa Friel, Courtney Hale, Maureen Hirzel, OSU Animal Science Undergraduate Students
Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

Benefits of Rotational Grazing
** Follow the link above to view the Ag-note.

We are back at it again with our Ag-notes from the students of the 2018 Small Ruminant Production course. This week, students Matt Blose, Marissa Friel, Courtney Hale, and Maureen Hirzel provide us with a brief outline of the benefits of rotational grazing by providing insight on how to start and some important considerations you need to ask yourself prior to jumping into this type of management scheme.

In its simplest form, rotational grazing is described as moving grazing livestock from one paddock to another, allowing time for the previously grazed pasture to regrow prior to the next grazing event. There are many benefits to this strategy as rotational grazing allows producers to Continue reading

You can’t Manage what you don’t Measure!

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

Review your sheep records.

Record keeping is certainly not one of my favorite tasks related to raising sheep, but it certainly is necessary. In order to have a good handle on some of your production practices, you need to review your records on a regular basis. This includes not only financial records for filing taxes, but your production records for evaluating the sheep flock.

One of the most important indicators of profitability in a sheep operation is the lambing percentage. There are a couple figures to consider with the lambing percentage. First, start with the number of lambs produced compared to the number of ewes that lambed. Then, look at the number of live lambs at birth as well as the live lambs a month after lambing and the number of live lambs at weaning. Compare this to the number of ewes that lambed to calculate some percentages.

Set a goal to wean a Continue reading

Fencing. More than just a Couple of Posts and Wire

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Noble County

Neighborly fence care.

Fence care can make tempers flare between neighbors. Typically, when neighbors have similar goals, an agreeable strategy for fence maintenance can be worked out easily. When land use pursuits differ, there is a higher likelihood for conflict.

One of Ohio’s oldest rural laws is built around the care of partition fence. Ohio R.C. Chapter 971 defines a partition fence or “line fence” as a fence placed on the division line between two adjacent properties. In 2008, the law was updated to state “Partition fence includes a fence that has been considered a division line between two such properties even though a subsequent land survey indicates that the fence is not located directly on the division line.”

If both neighbors utilize the fence for similar purposes then the responsibilities are typically split evenly, which includes Continue reading

To Breed or Not to Breed

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

Breeding ewe lambs and doelings.

Should ewe lambs and doelings be bred to produce their first offspring when they are approximately one year of age? Or should you wait until they are yearlings to breed them for the first time? The answer depends. There are many factors to consider and there are pros and cons to each breeding decision.

Breeding ewe lambs and doe kids allows you to exploit their reproductive and genetic potential. It is well-documented that ewes that are mated as lambs will have a higher lifetime production than ewes that are mated for the first time as yearlings.

One of the most compelling reasons to consider breeding ewe lambs and doe kids is Continue reading

Don’t Miss this Fescue Opportunity

Kassidy Buse, Hay and Forage Grower summer editorial intern
(Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: September 4, 2018)

The cost of feed is the highest expense on any operation, specifically when winter feeding. Producers typically utilize hay to meet [livestock] nutritional requirements during the winter, but producing hay with a high enough forage quality to meet those needs proves to be a challenge.

Chris Teutsch, forage extension specialist at the University of Kentucky, argues that stockpiled tall fescue is an option that has a higher nutritional value to meet [some winter livestock] needs. He provides helpful steps to optimize stockpiled tall fescue in the Kentucky newsletter Off the Hoof.

“Choose a strong tall fescue sod in a field that is Continue reading

The Perfect Time to Renovate Your Pasture

Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Wayne County
(Previously published in Farm and Dairy, August 23, 2018)

“My biggest pasture weed problem is foxtails, what should I do to control them?” This was the comment and question of a recent phone call I received.

Foxtails, yellow, green and giant, are annual weeds. In a pasture situation, annual weeds such as foxtails, ragweed, pigweed, crabgrass and barnyard grass, are the result of pasture management.

These weeds require soil disturbance and bare soil to germinate and grow. Any practice that opens up or destroys the sod base allows these weeds to flourish. Continue reading

Fall Forage Options Still Exist

Hay and Forage Grower
(Previously published on Hay & Forage Grower: August 28, 2018)

Drought and other weather maladies usually prompt the need for additional forage production in the fall and early spring. But even in a normal growing season, it often makes good sense to conserve stored hay supplies and plant an annual forage in late summer or early fall.

“Many producers have already identified the opportunity to put oats, cereal rye, turnips, or other forage crops in this fall,” Continue reading

Housing and Working Facilities for Sheep

Stephen Herbert, Masoud Hashemi, Carrie Chickering-Sears, and Sarah Weis in collaboration with Ken Miller, Jacqui Carlevale, Katie Campbell-Nelson, and Zack Zenk, UMass factsheet editors
(Previously published as a factsheet by the University of Massachusetts with UMass Amherst Outreach UMass Extension)

Introduction
Sheep can acclimate to stiff weather conditions with no shelter if they have access to forage, water and protection from the wind. It is recommended that housing be available when lambing occurs during the winter months. Housing usually improves the number of live lambs per ewe. During the summer months, shelter is generally not required although some breeds will seek shade to be protected from the heat.

Housing facilities for sheep do not need to be elaborate or expensive. Old sheds and barns can be excellent housing and usually can be easily renovated to improve the management of the operation. There are many alternatives other than Continue reading

A Brief Refresher on Sheep Diseases

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

(Image Source: Susan Schoenian, Maryland Small Ruminant Page)

Some diseases that affect sheep.

Sheep can be affected by many diseases. This article gives an overview of some of the most common diseases of sheep. Scrapie, though uncommon, is also included, because it is important for reasons of public health and perception.

Abortion
Abortion is when pregnancy is terminated and the ewe loses her lamb(s), or she gives birth to weak or deformed lamb(s) that die shortly after birth. While it is not unusual for some ewes to abort, flock abortion rates in excess of 5% are usually considered problematic.

There can be many reasons for abortion, and it is not always easy to determine the cause. In the US, the most common infectious causes of sheep abortion are Continue reading

Good Management Practices for Fall Grazing

Ted Wiseman, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Perry County
(Previously published in Farm and Dairy: August 9, 2018)

Fall pasture management is a critical period for pastures. For many of us we have had adequate rainfall up until recently and pastures have done well to this point.

As we transition into late summer and early fall it is critical to pay close attention to your forages. Some pastures may be stockpiled, but those intended to be grazed this fall still need time to rest.

It’s very tempting to use those forages that green up late in the fall. Management decisions made this fall will greatly impact forage growth next year. Continue reading

Pneumonia in Sheep and Goats

Dave Van Metre, DVM, DACVIM Professor / Extension Veterinarian, Colorado State University

Pneumonia is an infection of the lung tissue with multiple causes. It is an important medical problem of sheep and goats of all ages. In younger animals, various bacteria, viruses, and parasites of the upper and lower respiratory tract are often involved in the development of pneumonia. In adults, these same diseases – causing agents can create pneumonia.

In sheep, a systemic virus known as Ovine Progressive Pneumonia Virus (OPPV) can play an important role.

In goats, a similar systemic virus, the Caprine Arthritis and Encephalitis Virus (CAEV), can cause pneumonia.

The word “systemic” means that OPPV and CAEV are viruses that can affect multiple organs, including the lungs. These viruses can also affect the brain, udder and the joints. In certain climates, parasites (worms) can travel from the gastrointestinal tract to the lungs, causing pneumonia.

What conditions increase the risk of pneumonia? Continue reading

Late Summer Establishment of Perennial Forages

Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Wayne County
Dr. Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist, The Ohio State University
(Previously published in the C.O.R.N Newsletter)

(Image Source: MSU Extension Bulletin, Steps to Successful No-till Establishment of Forages)

Ohio growers experienced another wet spring and compressed 2018 spring planting season.  On some farms, this caused postponement of plans for spring seeding of alfalfa and other perennial forages.  In some areas, the prolonged wet weather affected forage harvest schedules, resulting in harvest equipment running on wet forage fields leaving ruts, compacted soils and damage to alfalfa crowns.  Some of these forage acres need to be re-seeded.

Late summer, and especially the month of August, provides growers with another window of opportunity to Continue reading

Using Hay to Meet Sheep Nutritional Needs

Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Wayne County
(Previously published in: A Guide to Katahdin Hair Sheep)

Sheep are ruminants, so outside of a feedlot situation the majority, if not all, of their nutrient requirements should be met from forages. For most sheep owners, this means that hay is an important component of the ration through at least the winter months and possibly even longer, including times of pasture shortages due to drought or poor forage stands. There are two critical questions to answer when using hay to meet sheep nutritional needs:

  • What is the nutrient content and quality of the hay?
  • What are the nutrient requirements of the sheep?

The number one factor affecting the quality and nutrient content of hay is Continue reading

Ram Health: Pizzle Rot

Dr. John Martin, Veterinary Scientist, Sheep, Goat and Swine/OMAFRA
(Previously published on Ontario, Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs)

(Image Source: Renn-vue Farms)

Pizzle Rot in Sheep

To deal with the cause first. Like many conditions we see in sheep, pizzle rot is the result of an interaction between a bacteria and some other factor. The bacteria is Corynebacterium renale or one of that group. These bacteria have the ability to break urea down using an enzyme, urease. The other factor is an increase in the protein level of the diet, quite common in the month before breeding to improve the condition of the rams. Once the protein in the diet from all sources rises above 16%, urine can contain more than 4% urea. This excess urea makes the urine alkaline. The bacterial urease breaks down the urea to release excess ammonia. It is this ammonia that causes a severe irritation and ulceration of the skin around the preputial opening. Once the skin is ulcerated, C. renale or other bacteria will infect it. The debris Continue reading

Early vs. Late Lambing – Which Option are You Considering this Breeding Season?

Mike Neary, Extension Sheep Specialist, Purdue University
(Previously published on the Purdue University Extension web page)

The purpose of this article is to examine the pros and cons of each system and how they can fit individual producers goals and operations. Neglected in this discussion is fall lambing, which is not an attempt to minimize this as a viable management system. Fall lambing is viable, with the proper genetics and feed resources.

Early or Winter Lambing
Early lambing systems have some definite advantages over other systems. High on the list is labor availability. Many farmers don’t have as many demands on their time during winter as they do during spring. Fieldwork, planting, calving, etc., are all time-consuming and high input periods. There simply may not be enough time to lamb out a bunch of ewes. This is a real and practical consideration, since Continue reading

There’s No Joke about Using a Teaser Ram

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

As many producers are in the midst of preparing for the upcoming breeding season, there are many tasks that need to be completed before turning the rams in. Of course, decisions need to be made regarding mating pairs and when to start flushing the ewes, but in this process have you ever considered “jump starting” the cycling of your flock in preparation for breeding. With this, I have a few questions that I have to ask many of you. Have you ever introduced a teaser ram to allow your ewes start cycling and to shorten the breeding season? If you answered no to both of these questions, I’ll ask, why not? Continue reading

P. tenuis, Meningeal Worm in Small Ruminants

Dr. Tim McDermott, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Franklin County
(Previously Published in Farm and Dairy: July 12, 2018)

When I was a veterinary student in the 1990’s in parasitology class we learned about Paralephostrongylus tenuis (P. tenuis), the meningeal worm primarily affecting small ruminants, as an uncommon, even rare occurrence in private practice.  When I joined Extension in 2015 in Hocking County, I found that for small ruminant producers in southeastern Ohio, this parasite was frequently encountered.  P. tenuis is a type of roundworm that has white tailed deer as its primary host.  In white tailed deer however, the parasite infrequently causes illness, but instead will live inside the deer for years with no outward medical signs, excepting only eggs shed from the roundworm into the environment within the deer feces.  The life cycle of this roundworm parasite is classified as indirect.  This means that further maturation of the parasite into an infective larval stage occurs in a second host outside of the deer and this intermediate host is then ingested by another species.  The intermediate host for P. tenuis is Continue reading

Mycotoxin Concerns when Feeding Small Ruminants

Michael Neary, Extension Small Ruminant Specialist, Purdue University
(Previously Published as a Sheep and Meat Goat Extension Publication)

Identifying Corn Ear Rots (Image Source: No-Till Farmer)

Introduction
During the 2009 Indiana corn harvest, livestock producers heard numerous reports of mycotoxin levels high enough to cause concern. The main mycotoxins in feed grains that sheep and meat goat producers need to be concerned with are deoxynivalenol (DON) and zearalenone (ZEN). Deoxynivalenol is also known as vomitoxin. Zearalenone arises from Gibberrella ear rot, or Gib ear rot. Both of these mycotoxins are produced by a Fusarium fungus. There is a limited amount of research and extension information available on the effect of sheep performance when consuming feeds infected with DON and ZEN. There is less information for Continue reading

How are You Preparing for Breeding Season?

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

(Image Source: Premier 1 Supplies)

Throughout the year you make decisions to support or improve performance, but are there areas in your operation where you are overlooking some lost opportunities? Lost opportunities are those areas that could be tweaked to further improve production or performance. Let’s take a look at the breeding season to determine if there are opportunities to improve performance in that area.

A large factor that affects profitability in a sheep operation is the lamb crop. This involves anything from birth weights to growth to efficiency. Breeding season is a critical time so that we insure not only that ewes get pregnant, but that they also produce twins. We not only want high conception rates, but those conception rates need to be high during the first heat cycle.

Prior to breeding season, rams should be Continue reading

The Hidden Costs of Making Hay

Alan Newport, Beef Producer editor
(Previously published in Beef Producer: July 3, 2018)

How to hate hay.

One of the worst practices we do, from a soil-health and productivity standpoint, is haying.

Haying generally removes significantly more nutrients from the soil than do grain crops, in addition to the damage it causes to soil life and the lack of biological stimulation.

Examples from an Oklahoma State University publication generally match the data from other states. These are pounds of nutrient per ton of hay, so you can extrapolate this to a per-acre basis using your hay yields.

Note these are only mineral content. Nitrogen is Continue reading

Tall Fescue Toxicosis – Knowing the Signs

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Noble County

Kentucky 31 tall fescue

Tall fescue “Kentucky-31” (KY-31) is one of the most predominant forages in the nation. Its popularity began in the 1930s when a wild strain of fescue was discovered on a Kentucky farm and it became recognized for wide adaptability. In the1940s, the cultivated variety was publically released and can now be found in most pastures in the United States. This cultivar is easy to establish, persistent, tolerant of many environmental stresses, resistant to pests, and can aid livestock managers in prolonging the grazing season. However, tall fescue does not accomplish all of these tasks unassisted.

An endophytic fungus called Neotyphodium coenophialum can be credited for many of these benefits. The fungus cannot be seen and can only be detected by laboratory analysis. The fescue endophyte forms a mutually beneficial relationship with the grass, but Continue reading

How to Battle Footrot

Dr. Bill Shulaw, OSU Extension Veterinarian

This week we dig back into our archives to find an article that many could probably related to, especially with the weather that we have been experiencing!

With an unusual wet spring and summer, this situation has opened up the door for a common sheep disease to drastically affect your flock: contagious footrot. Warm wet weather softens the hoof and soft tissues between the toes making the foot more susceptible to infection. It also favors the transmission of the causative bacteria, Dichelobacter nodosus (formerly Bacteroides nodsus), from the hooves of carrier sheep to the hooves of unaffected animals. For a review of the causes of virulent and benign footrot in sheep, as well as “scald,” the reader is referred to the appropriate section in the latest edition of the SID Sheep Production Handbook available through the American Sheep Industry.

When footrot appears in a flock, it often 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

BioWorma – Natural Parasite Control

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

BioWorma is the one of the latest products developed in the livestock sector to be used as an additional management tool to control for internal parasites. At this time, BioWorma has been registered by International Animal Health Products Pty Ltd in Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. This product is said to become available to producers in AU and NZ by early July, but as for the US, BioWorma must first receive EPA approval. Upon approval, regulation of use and distribution will be established by each state. Until then, gathering a better understanding of the product itself and how it can be implemented on-farm will be key to its success here in the US.

Continue reading

Ag-note: Why Ewe Should Control Feed Intake

Carolina Fernandez, Dermot Hutchinson, Randi Shaw, Jake Parkinson, Caitlyn McCaulley, OSU Animal Science Undergraduate Students
Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

Why Ewe Should Control Feed Intake
** Follow the link above to view the Ag-note.

This weeks Ag-note comes from OSU students Carolina Fernandez, Dermot Hutchinson, Randi Shaw, Jake Parkinson, and Caitlyn McCaulley as they present a detailed overview on the importance of controlled feed intake in small ruminants. The students were inspired by Dr. Francis Fluharty to present on this topic as Dr. Fluharty expressed that this type of feeding strategy is not just limited to feedlot cattle. Although controlling feed intake comes with a cost due to an increase in labor and time spent feeding, the benefits from this strategy certainly outweigh these costs.

At a basic level, producers have two options when it comes to feeding strategies, Continue reading

Multiflora Rose Problems in Pastures? Control it Now!

Dwight Lingenfelter, Penn State Extension Associate, Weed Science

(Image Source: Invasive Plant Atlas of New England)

As spring progresses, multiflora rose aggressively grows and eventually blooms in late May/early June. Several tactics can be used to control this problem weed and these methods will be briefly discussed.

Mechanical control methods include mowing, which requires repeated mowings per season for several years, and excavating, which involves pulling individual plants from the soil with heavy equipment, can be costly, time-consuming and laborious. However, these are viable means for multiflora rose management. Also, management techniques which include Continue reading

Think Summer Annuals Now

Kassidy Buse, Hay and Forage Grower summer editorial intern
(Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: June 12, 2018)

Summer annual grass grazing is a great tool for livestock operations. While it adds flexibility, management decisions are needed to make it worth the time and cost.

Sorghum-sudangrass (sudex), sudangrass, pearl millet, foxtail millet, and teff are the most commonly used grazing summer annuals.

Brad Schick, University of Nebraska-Lincoln extension educator, offered some advice for utilizing summer annuals in a recent UNL BeefWatch newsletter.

If earlier grazing is desired, sorghums and sudangrasses can be used but only if planted when the soil temperature is above 60°F, Continue reading

Managing Parasites in Small Ruminants

Matt Reese, Ohio’s Country Journal editor
(Previously published in Ohio’s Country Journal: June 15, 2018)

The sun is out, the grass is growing and livestock in Ohio are out on pasture contentedly grazing. There is something special about the relationship between animals and pasture on a farm but there are challenges as well, including parasites.

“Worldwide, producers are losing billions of dollars to parasites through production losses and actual animal losses. They are more of an issue in the Eastern U.S. because our grazing areas are more concentrated than in the West. Issues with parasites increase this time of year when temperatures are 50 to 104 degrees F. Beyond this range, their survivability decreases significantly,” said Brady Campbell, program coordinator of the Ohio State University sheep team. “When it is hot, humid, and wet they thrive. Now everything is out on pasture and when it is wet and dewy it is a problem. Dew is Continue reading

De-wormers – Are They an Extremely Valuable Non-Renewable Resource?

Michelle Arnold, DVM (Ruminant Extension Veterinarian, UKVDL), University of Kentucky

Although this piece is written from a Beef cattle perspective, it covers an extremely timely and important topic. As you read this article, think about how this may apply to you in your operation and what management strategies you can implement in order to prevent production losses associated with parasitic infection.

A “non-renewable” resource is a resource with economic value that cannot be readily replaced on a level equal to its consumption. Petroleum and coal are two familiar examples of valuable non-renewable products used daily, but known to exist in limited supply, and formation of new product takes billions of years. De-wormers, on the other hand, are products that can be purchased from almost any farm or veterinary supply store and online. There are many different kinds, fairly inexpensive, and seemingly effective at Continue reading

Pasture Shortages

Kassidy Buse, Hay and Forage Grower summer editorial intern
(Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: June 5, 2018)

Supplementing short pastures.

You could say there was a perfect storm coming into this spring. The combination of wet weather, cool temperatures, and less growing degree days has led to slow pasture growth. Low hay stockpiles have compounded the problem.

Where reduced forage availability isn’t enough to support grazing [livestock], supplementation is required. This prompts the question, “What is the most efficient supplementation approach?” Continue reading

Poor Forage Establishment

Mike Rankin, Hay and Forage Grower managing editor
(Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: June 5, 2018)

Dealing with crappy new seedings.

(Image Source: Mike Rankin, Hay and Forage Grower)

Every farmer has done “it.”

That “it” is to walk a new forage seeding field that just never developed. There is nothing more disheartening than a newly seeded hayfield or pasture that for one or a variety of reasons was done before “it” ever really started.

During my extension agent days, I walked many of these fields. Sometimes the failure could be blamed on the weather, but there were cases when the reasons for the lack of establishment just couldn’t be fully explained.

Most forage seeds are small and sensitive to their microenvironment. Seeding depth is also critical — too deep or too shallow can Continue reading

Energy Intake and Protein Concentration Effects Lamb Performance and Visceral Organ Mass

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

As summer approaches, I can’t help but to think about the upcoming breeding sheep show season, when will Mother Nature let us to make our first cutting of hay in southeastern Ohio, and the number of lambs that are on feed in the state of Ohio. For those producers that are feeding out lambs, I have a few management questions to ask. Currently, how are you feeding your lambs? Are your lamb’s offered ad libitum access to feed all day or are you feeding your group of lambs at a specific rate (i.e. percent of body weight)? When formulating your rations, how are you determining the percent protein needed in your lamb diets? Are you feeding 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

12 Simple Steps of Grazing

Matt Poore, Ruminant Nutrition Extension Specialist, North Carolina State University
Johnny Rogers, North Carolina Amazing Grazing Program Coordinator
(Previously published in Hay and Forage Grower: March 15, 2018)

A 12-step plan to Amazing Grazing

Adaptive grazing is a term describing a management approach that includes many practices such as frequent rotation of cattle and stockpiling for winter grazing. It is not a recipe; it is a very flexible system that producers can modify to fit their needs and skills. In North Carolina, our educational program “Amazing Grazing” strives to teach principles and critical thinking skills, so producers can begin adaptive grazing.

We have found that producers we work with are at varying points on the journey, so laying out our approach in a 12-step plan is helpful to Continue reading

Does Crabgrass Really Hate You?

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Noble County

Forage type crabgrass – ‘Quick-N-Big’

You may have heard the rumor that crabgrass (Digitaria sanguinalis) hates you. Those who profit from the sale of lawn care products may like you to believe that, but despite the claims, it really isn’t true. Each year crabgrass works toward accomplishing the goal of all living things, to reproduce, and if it had a life motto, it might be something like “Life is short, so live it!” Any plant out of place can be considered a weed and in the eye of many, crabgrass fits this description. However in a forage system, crabgrass can be the right plant, in the right place, at the right time.

Crabgrass is an annual warm-season grass that reproduces by Continue reading

The 3 P’s of Small Ruminant Production

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Noble County

Small ruminant producers are very familiar with “the three P’s” – Predators. Pathogens. Parasites. The three P’s account for most livestock losses on-farm. In order to be successful, producers need to tailor their management practices to minimize the impacts of predators, pathogens, and parasites.

That was the main focus of Session #3 of Southeast Ohio Sheep & Goat School on May 10 at the Eastern Agricultural Research Station (EARS). Presenters from OSU Extension and USDA Wildlife Services shared information about the environments of the three P’s, how they thrive, ways to deter them, and how to adjust management strategies when issues arise. Continue reading

On-farm Biosecurity

Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Wayne County
(Previously published in: A Guide to Katahdin Hair Sheep)

As we begin yet another season filled with selling and showing livestock, it is important to keep biosecurity in mind. Rory reminds us that most economically important diseases are purchased. All newly purchased animals should be quarantined before introducing them to your flock. Therefore, as you consider purchasing a new stud ram or plan on taking your flock to the county fair, proper biosecurity measures will pay off for you and your flock in the long run.

How easy or difficult would it be to introduce an infectious disease into your flock? Do you know the factors that increase the risk of introducing an infectious disease into your flock? Farm biosecurity is about Continue reading

Animal Performance Losses Associated with Late Harvested Grass Hay

Hay and Forage Grower
(Previously published in Hay and Forage Grower: May 8, 2018)

It’s true for fescue, too.

Volumes have been written about the importance of cutting alfalfa on time. Truth be told, it may be even more critical for grasses.

Jimmy Henning, extension forage agronomist with the University of Kentucky, points to research from the University of Tennessee that is a compelling example of how harvest timing drives future animal performance. He writes about the research in the most recent UK Forage News newsletter.

The research compared three cutting maturities for tall fescue: Continue reading

Benefits of Wider Swaths in Hay Making

Alan Newport, Beef Producer editor
(Previously published in Beef Producer: May 2, 2018)

(Image Source: Beef Producer)

Hay-makers have realized in recent years that wide swaths raise quality and finish faster.

Laying down hay in the widest possible swath speeds drying, improves quality and probably saves money in the long run.

In fact, forming a wide swath at cutting is the single most important factor in maximizing initial drying rate and preserving starches and sugars, says Dan Undersander, University of Wisconsin extension agronomist. Continue reading

When Should Pastures be Mowed?

Chris Penrose, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Morgan County
(Previously published in Ohio Farmer: May 14, 2018)

The spring of 2018 was the latest I can remember feeding hay to my cattle, and many producers were searching at the last minute to find some extra hay. Pastures were very slow growing this spring until it finally warmed up in early May. On my farm, common orchardgrass typically starts heading out in late April, and it was two weeks later this year. The late-arriving spring brought many challenges around farms, and the rush to get crops in the ground and to make hay has put mowing pastures on the backburner. However, now may be a great time to mow pastures.

Our perennial grasses go through two stages during the growing season: the reproductive stage and the vegetative stage. When grass starts growing in the spring, its main objective is Continue reading

The Basics of Tall Fescue

Dr. Jimmy Henning, Livestock Forage Specialist, University of Kentucky
(Previously published in Farmers Pride: January 18, 2018)

Tall fescue and its endophyte – implications for your farm.

The story of Kentucky 31 tall fescue reads like a soap opera. Found on a Menifee County Kentucky hill side in 1931, it quickly became a rival to Kentucky bluegrass as the most important grass in Kentucky. Its yield and persistence made it look unbeatable, but its animal performance numbers were sometimes poor or worse. The decision by the University of Kentucky to go forward with the release of Kentucky 31 was filled with about as much drama as you will ever find in an academic setting.

We now know the poor animal performance AND Continue reading

Start Planning for Drought Now

Gary Bates, Beef and Forage Center Director, University of Tennessee
(Previously published on Hay and Forage Grower: March 15, 2018)

This time of the year most of us are waiting for winter to end, looking forward to warmer temperatures and greener pastures. Very few people woke up this morning thinking about drought.

That topic won’t enter our minds for another few months. By that time, however, drought might become one of the dominant topics on everyone’s mind. The problem is that if we wait until June or July to start thinking about how to deal with a drought, we have missed out on several management tools to reduce its impact. Continue reading

The Effects of Finishing Diet and Weight on Lamb Performance, Carcass Characteristics, and Flavor

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

The beauty of the small ruminant industry is that producers are able to capitalize on niche markets that surround religious holidays. Unfortunately, it is clear that the price of lambs at the sale barn has dropped as seen in recent market reports, with the conclusion of Christian and Orthodox Easter’s as well as Passover. Checking the calendar, it appears that we are approaching both Ramadan (month of fasting beginning May 6) and Eid al-Fitr (June 5-7). The occurrence of these religious holidays may allow for the lamb market to see an increase in market prices, but many fall and winter born lambs in the eastern US will also be entering the market as they approach finishing weights and in turn may flood the market. Therefore, as a producer, it is important to have a marketing plan in mind when making breeding decisions for proper lambing dates.

Aside from religious holidays, lamb Continue reading

Is it Time to Start Grazing?

Chris Penrose, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Morgan County

For the spring we are having, and each producer’s situation, this is a difficult question. However, for most of us, the answer is yes! The recent warm weather has allowed the pasture and hay fields to really start growing at a fast clip.

There are several different thoughts on when to start grazing and I admittedly take a very aggressive approach to start grazing in the spring. I will even confess that it probably started thirty years ago when I was running out of hay. I start grazing as soon as I can. I use two approaches to early grazing. The first one is to use a “stockpiled” hay field (I made two cuttings of hay last summer, then let the field grow from August to March) and put my animals in the field on March 3rd. March 2nd was the last day I planned on Continue reading

Hauling Pen-pack Manure

Glen Arnold, OSU Extension Field Specialist, Manure Nutrient Management

(Image Source: North Dakota State University Extension)

When spring arrives, both large and small livestock owners with pen-pack manure are looking to apply the manure as soon as field conditions allow. Across the state I have seen stockpiles of pen-pack manure outside of sheep, horse, cattle, and dairy buildings. The nutrients and organic matter in pen-pack manure are an excellent addition to farm fields.

We always want to keep water quality in mind when handing manure. The goal is to make good use of the manure nutrients and keep those manure nutrients out of streams and ditches.

Pen-pack manure contains Continue reading

With Sheep, The Cheapest Mineral Isn’t

Dr. Francis Fluharty, Research Professor, Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University

Regardless of the animals stage of production or time of year, Dr. Fluharty reminds us that mineral supplementation is important! Although mineral

(Image Source: Back Yard Herds)

can be quite costly initially, Dr. Fluharty outlines the risks and production losses associated with the lack of mineral supplementation.

The major nutritional requirements are: water, energy, protein, minerals, and vitamins. In many cases, sheep producers do a good job of providing adequate water, energy, and protein. However, many sheep producers buy ‘cheap’ minerals, ignoring the fact that the availability of the minerals in the oxide form is low. In many of these mixes, only 10-20% are Continue reading

The Benefits and Challenges of Producing Alternative Forages

Mike Rankin, Hay and Forage Grower managing editor
(Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: February 15, 2018)

Sold on sericea hay (and other stuff)

(Image Source: Joan Burke, American Consortium for Small Ruminant Parasite Control)

I meet a lot of people at forage meetings during the course of a year. Never has anyone broached the subject of sericea lespedeza . . . that’s until I met Reed Edwards at a Georgia hay conference in 2016.

Edwards is one of those farmers who is not afraid to move outside the box of accepted practices or try whatever the latest extension recommendation might be. Either way, he’s going to forge his own path.

There’s currently a lot going on at Edwards’ 90-acre Fox Pipe Farm. In addition to harvesting sericea lespedeza hay for Continue reading

Making Sense of Sheep

Garth Ruff, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Henry County

Rookie Shepherding 101

Last summer when my younger brother moved out of our parents’ house and on to a 25-acre farm just six miles down the road, we decided to get into the sheep business together. Growing up we had experience with beef cattle and hogs and quite honestly sheep were an afterthought until the purchase of this small farm. The previous owners had had a couple of horses and had row cropped the majority of the farm. After some research and number crunching, here are 6 things that we considered as first time shepherds. Continue reading

Plan for Alternative Forages, Even During the Growing Season

Allen Gahler, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Sandusky County

Winter has come and gone, and despite the many scares Mother Nature provided, and the well-in-advance warnings by local weather stations around the state, many of us chose not to rush out and stock up on break and milk. And miraculously, we survived. Hopefully, all of your livestock, with the proper planning and nutrition, survived the cold snaps and snow storms as well.

So now that we are moving into the growing season and will soon be, or maybe already are, grazing in some areas, all of those concerns about what and when to feed livestock are over until next winter approaches. Right? Continue reading

Absorbency of Alternative Livestock Bedding Sources

Reggie Voyles, undergraduate research intern, Department of Animal Science, Iowa State University
Mark Honeyman, professor, Department of Animal Science, Iowa State University
Iowa State University, Northwest Research Farms and Allee Demonstration Farm ISRF05-29, 31
(Previously published on Talking Sheep – Sheep Education and Information: March 28, 2018)

Introduction:
As the demand for niche-marketed meats increases, so does need for research in this area. One niche market that is being examined is pork raised in deep-bedded systems. There is also a call for alternative bedding materials. Farm produced bedding sources such as cornstalks and various types of straws are commonly used. However, this study looked at other possible materials. Products were Continue reading

Temporary Fencing – The Future of Grazing

Johnny Rogers, North Carolina State Grazing Program Coordinator
(Previously featured in Hay & Forage Grower: February 15, 2018)

There’s power in polywire

Pasture-based livestock production at first glance is a simple system. Producers use herbivores to harvest forage and create something they can sell (or enjoy).

In the past, it has been typical to use a continuous grazing system where livestock will remain on the same pasture for an extended period, but this can lead to poor forage utilization. Livestock will roam large pastures as they seek out their preferred plant species and leave others to become degraded, mature, and unpalatable.

Many produ