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)

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

Mike 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

Scott Greinger, 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

Scott Greinger, 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 producers do not appreciate the value of grass until Continue reading

How Often Should You Cut Alfalfa?

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

Most dairy producers are fairly aggressive with alfalfa cutting schedules. Their goal is to achieve high-quality forage.

But cutting too frequently usually shortens the life of alfalfa and often gives lower yields, even when more cuttings are taken per growing season.

Recent results from a two-year study at the Western Agricultural Research Center of The Ohio State University demonstrate the yield and quality trade-off. Continue reading

Management Practices that can Affect the Flavor Intensity of Lamb

Jerad Jaborek, Graduate Research Associate, The Ohio State University

Now is the time of year when the majority of winter lambs are being weaned. After weaning, these lambs will be sold at the sale barn

or retained on the farm to be placed on feed to reach market ready weights. Have you ever considered that the way we manage these lambs will affect the flavor intensity of the sheep meat produced from these lambs?

According to 2015 National Lamb Quality Audit, which conducted surveys with people working in the lamb supply chain (retailers, food service, and purveyors) to rank the importance of quality attributes. Eating satisfaction was the most important attribute to survey participants and was commonly defined as the Continue reading

To Hay or Not to Hay

Walt Davis
(Previously published in BeefProducer, December 19, 2017)

I had a conversation recently in which some common mindsets that interfere with profitability in livestock operations were brought out.

An acquaintance asked me if we had started feeding. When I told him that we had not, he said that he had been feeding hay for over a month and followed up with, “I start feeding every year on the fourth of November.”

Knowing that he had an unusually wet summer, I asked if he did not have grass left when his normal time to start feeding came around. He replied that Continue reading

Spring Seeding of Forages

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

(Image Source: Warner Brothers Seed Company)

Late this month (depending on the weather) and on into April provides one of the two preferred times to seed perennial cool-season forages. The other preferred timing for cool-season grasses and legumes is in late summer, primarily the month of August here in Ohio. The relative success of spring versus summer seeding of forages is greatly affected by the prevailing weather conditions, and so growers have success and failures with each option.

Probably the two primary difficulties with spring plantings are Continue reading

8 Tips for a Quality 1st Cutting

Chris Parker
(previously published in Indiana Prairie Farmer: February 23, 2018)

Forage Corner: Here is advice to help you make the best first-cutting hay possible.

Making quality hay can be difficult any time of year. First-cutting hay can provide extra challenges, largely due to weather and other time demands early in the season.

Continue reading

Guard Dogs Deployed as Part of US Wolf-Sheep Study

Keith Ridler, Associated Press
(previously published on Morning Ag Clips: March 11, 2018)

(Image Source: Morning Ag Clips, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Flickr/Creative Commons)

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Federal scientists are trying to decide if it’s time to let the big dogs out.

Nearly 120 dogs from three large breeds perfected over centuries in Europe and Asia to be gentle around sheep and children but vicious when confronting wolves recently underwent a study to see how they’d react to their old nemesis on a new continent. Continue reading

Preparation and Considerations for the 2018 Show Season

Tim Barnes, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Marion County

As the winter lambing season comes to an end, many purebred and club lamb producers are opening their barns and offering their latest lamb crop up for sale to compete in the 2018 show season. As many begin to flip through sale ads and Facebook postings, there are somethings that exhibitors need to take into consideration before making their big purchase.

So you want to show a market lamb, but don’t know where to begin?

The experts say selection and show preparation are a science that will aid in predicting the final product of your sheep.  A well-planned feed and Continue reading

How to Receive More for your Wool Clip

David Rowe, General Manager, Mid-States Wool Growers

Food for thought as spring is upon us and the 2018 shearing season begins.

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 valid reasons to raise a specific breed of sheep, but the question on “how to make money” has not even been asked. As we know, the primary reason that most people raise sheep is to produce a successful lamb crop that can be marketed as well as a wool clip that can be sold as an additional product. Continue reading

Think Ahead about Weed Control in Alfalfa

Jeff Stachler, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Auglaize County
(previously published in Farm and Dairy: February 22, 2018)

As alfalfa stands age, they become thinner. The thinner alfalfa population allows weeds to encroach the field. Weeds can also be a problem if weeds were not properly managed prior to seeding the alfalfa.

After the establishment year, the weeds that are most frequent in an alfalfa field are winter annual weeds such as common chickweed, henbit, purple deadnettle, shepherd’s-purse, field pennycress, yellow rocket, birdsrape mustard, bushy wallflower, and cressleaf groundsel.

Another group of weeds that can get established are Continue reading

Sheep Records: The Key to Profitability

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

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

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

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

Pasture: Evaluation and Management of Existing Pasture

Bob Hendershot, Retired State Grassland Conservationist

As we begin to move into spring, we need to start thinking about spring forage growth and how we will be managing our pastures over the course of the new year.

Pasture management is very important for grazing animals; cattle, horse, llama, and sheep owners. By managing pastures more effectively, land managers can increase forage production, lower production costs, improve aesthetics, and promote a healthier environment. The benefits of a well-managed pasture include reducing environmental impacts of your operation, including movement of soil and manure to water bodies; improving property aesthetics, which makes for good neighbor relations, and increases property value; and providing feed and recreation for your horses. Using a rotational grazing system can enhance these benefits.

For optimal health, horses and llamas need to eat 1 to 1.5% and cattle and sheep Continue reading

Sheep Selection Tools

Melanie Barkley, Livestock Extension Educator, PennState Extension

(previously published in Penn State Extension, Animals and Livestock)

Sheep selection should involve more than just visual selection characteristics.

There are a number of tools available for selection, but the key is to combine operation goals with production benchmarks and visual appraisal to select the best sheep for your farm. Plus, producers should take a look at an often overlooked part of the selection process: culling strategies.

Not all sheep are created equal and not all farms are created equal. Before you even walk out to the barn to look at the sheep, the first thing you should do is define your market. Who are you selling to and what does your customer want? You will then be able to define what characteristics are important for your ewe flock to exhibit. Then, step two is Continue reading

What’s Really the Best Management?

Walt Davis
(previously published in Beef Producer: The Grazier’s Gazette, February 27, 2018)

To achieve the best, all parts of the soil-plant-animal-wealth-human complex must be nurtured and none can be degraded.

Humans have a built-in need to make everything (except our desks) neat and orderly. We dislike dealing with things that we cannot categorize into neat little pigeon holes.

Farmers and ranchers are particularly fond of separating their problems and the means of dealing with these problems into tidy individual slots. Weed control here, animal performance there, disease prevention behind, cash flow over here and everybody stay in your place. We often look at these factors as separate and unrelated entities to be addressed one at a time.

The epitome of this fixation would be Continue reading

Artificial Rearing Newborn Lambs

Tim Barnes, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Marion County

Rearing Lambs Artificially

Management Tips:
Within 2 to 4 hours after birth, decide which lambs among those needing assistance should be removed from their mother. Look for the stressed, or small lambs to select for artificial rearing.
It is important that newborn lambs receive colostrum within the first four hours. The best source of colostrum is from the mother but other ewes within the flock provide a high level of immunity. Continue reading

Hypothermic Lambs: How to Defrost before They’re in the Freezer

Jackie Lee and Kathrine Yunker, 2019 College of Veterinary Medicine DVM Candidates, The Ohio State University
(previously published on Talking Sheep – Sheep Education and Information: February 19, 2018)

Although mother nature can not make up her mind when it comes to the weather, this piece of information still serves a great purpose as it reminds us about the issues that can arise as a result of hypothermia and hypoglycemia as well as the management practices that can be implemented in order to decrease the losses associated with both of these issues.

Winter has already been harsh this year, making it only fitting to write about hypothermia in lambs. Even with the best management, this is bound to be an issue for many sheep producers. Hypothermia has many causes and can affect lambs at different ages. In newborn lambs less than five hours old, hypothermia often occurs due to prolonged exposure to cold temperatures.

Difficult or premature births can Continue reading

Frost-Seeding Season is on the Move

Mike Rankin, Hay and Forage Grower managing editor
(previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: February 20, 2018)

(Image Source: University of Georgia Extension)

I know that you all may be thinking, “how many times are we going to read about frost seeding this year?” However, I have always been taught that repetition is the key to learning. In addition, I found this piece interesting as it highlights some alternative frost-seeding methods from our very own Mr. Wayne Shriver, farm manager of the Eastern Agricultural Research Station in Caldwell, Ohio. I encourage you all to take a look and see what information Wayne and the others have to offer.

When pitchers and catchers are called to Florida and Arizona, it brings the annual rebirth of America’s pastime. It also marks a time when pasture managers need to start frost seeding or begin giving it serious thought. Continue reading

This Winter, Start Planning for Next Year – Soil Health

R.P. “Doc” Cooke
(previously published in BeefProducer: February 13, 2018)

Eight things to remember about soil and livestock health and improvement.

I don’t know about ya’ll but I spend a right smart amount of time planning to do better. I am so well organized that it is often a relief when my flip phone rings so I can find it.

One thing we need to do in the winter is rest up a little and think and plan and visit with other successful grazing beef producers. Most of us could use and profit from soil that is actually growing in organic matter, mineralization, color and depth. Continue reading

Control Winter Weeds for Better Pastures

Lauren Peterson, Hay and Forage Grower summer editorial intern
(Previously featured in Hay & Forage Grower: February 13, 2018)

Gone are the days when warm-season weeds seemingly had a corner on the warm-season pasture market. Producers who typically focus their control efforts on warm-season broadleaf and grass weeds, such as ragweed, broomweed, sandbur, or johnsongrass, may want to broaden their efforts.

Soils and crops consultant of the Noble Research Institute, Eddie Funderburg, explains that cool-season weeds, or those that emerge in the fall and grow throughout the winter and spring, are finding their way into warm-season pastures. Funderburg explains this growing problem and highlighted some of the main culprits in a recent Noble Research Institute News and Views newsletter. Continue reading

Tips for a Successful Lambing Season

Farm and Dairy Staff
(previously published in Farm and Dairy: February 19, 2018)

Make sure your lambs are off to a good start by using “clip, dip, and strip” in your lambing practices. This simple technique, suggested by former Penn State University Extension Educator Michael Fournier, will aid in keeping newborn lambs healthy.

1 – Clip
Clip refers to trimming the umbilical cord. When a lamb is born, it will have an umbilical cord of varying length still attached to the belly, which can be an open highway for bacteria. If the umbilical cord is Continue reading

Livestock Water is Essential, Even in Winter

Ted Wiseman, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Perry County

(Image Source: Catskill Merino Sheep)

Water is essential for all livestock regardless of the time of year. So far this year we have certainly had our share of chopping ice, thawing water lines and troughs. With recent temperatures many of us often focus on keeping livestock well fed and with adequate shelter. However, often times we forget about the most important nutrient which is water. Water consumed by livestock is required for a variety of physiological functions. Some of these include proper digestion, nutrient transportation, enzymatic and chemical reactions, and regulation of body temperature.

Although water is the cheapest nutrient we may purchase or provide, it is the one we provide the most of on a per pound basis. For example, every pound of dry matter consumed, Continue reading

Protect Sheep and Goats with CDT Vaccine

Peggy Coffeen, Dairy/Livestock Editor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continue reading

Forage News, Frostbite, and Fescue Foot

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Noble County

(Image Source: Dr. David Bohnert, Oregon State University. An example of fescue foot injury on cattle.)

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend the American Forage and Grassland Council Annual Conference with some of our other Ohio Extension Educators. It was a wonderful experience to learn from others and share what we have learned with forage producers and professionals across the country.

Two sessions that I sat in on for the benefit of my local producers were “Managing Clovers in the 21st Century” and “Understanding and Mitigating Fescue Toxicosis.” Continue reading

Management Considerations to Lower Lamb Mortalities

Dr. Bill Shulaw, OSU Extension Veterinarian

Once again, we have dug back into the achieves to provide an article by Dr. Bill Shulaw that outlines management strategies that can be implemented in order to decrease lamb losses associated with improper management and disease control that may be prevalent during the first few weeks of life. Whether you have raised sheep for a year or 50 years, reviewing this article would benefit all shepherds as it outlines simple control and management strategies that can certainly benefit any operation.

There are many factors that affect lamb survival. Serious shepherds should consult the Sheep Production Handbook, produced by the American Sheep Industry Association (www.sheepusa.org), for a more complete discussion of the various conditions and infectious diseases which impact lamb survival. However, Continue reading

Frost Seeding – Making Mother Nature Work for You

Chris Penrose, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Morgan County
Gary Wilson, Retired OSU Extension Educator ANR, Hancock County

(Image Source: On Pasture – Frost Seeding Red Clover in Hay Fields and Pastures)

This is the time of year when farmers will want to think about re-seeding their pasture and hay fields. This method of seeding is called “frost seeding” which is where you apply seed to the ground and the freezing and thawing of the soil in February and early march will provide seed to soil contact allowing germination of the seed. There is a little more risk of the seed not germinating than with a “traditional” seeding, but the cost and time is a lot less.

The secret is to have exposed soil. If you have exposed soil, even in your yard, simply sprinkle seed on the soil and let the frosts work it in. If the ground is thawed, you can Continue reading

Do Sheep and Goats get Cold?

Erika Lyon, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Jefferson and Harrison Counties

(Image Source: Our Ohio Magazine, Ohio Farm Bureau – Meating of the Minds)

During this time of year, the hills of eastern Ohio are covered in snow, frozen waterfalls, and massive icicles. Most of us enjoy spending these cold winter days indoors next to the fireplace or with the furnace working overtime. So with their thick wool coats, are sheep actually keeping as warm as you think? What about goats that do not have those nice thick coats? Are they just used to the cold? During the winter, extreme temperatures, precipitation and wind can create Continue reading

Five Pasture Improvements to Begin in January

Dean Kreager, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Licking County
(previously published in Farm and Dairy, January 4, 2018)

New Year’s Day has come and gone, as have some of our New Year’s resolutions: eat less junk food, go to the gym more often, lose weight, and the list goes on.

I hope our pasture management goals for the year last longer. As I contemplate the projects I have completed and those that are still on the list for another year, I think about how I can get more production from my pasture or how I can feed more animals on the same amount of land.

Today, I will stick with the “5 Things” theme in this issue and will touch on five areas of pasture management you can Continue reading

Can Producers Make their Ewes Lamb During the Day?

Kathy Voth, ‘On Pasture’ Editor and Contributor
(previously published in On Pasture, January 18, 2018)

How to make lambing, kidding, and calving happen during daylight hours?

Here’s a way to make your upcoming calving, lambing and kidding season a little less stressful: feed your pregnant stock every evening, right around dusk. They’ll spend the night ruminating and wait to give birth until morning.

That’s the advice shared in this video (included below) by Glenn Selk, Oklahoma State University (OSU) Extension Cattle Specialist. The “Konefal Method” is named after a Canadian rancher, Gus Konefal, who discovered that changing his feeding time led to more calves being born during daylight hours. Researchers at the Kansas State Experiment Station followed up with a five year study to give us all a better idea of what we could expect from a change to evening feeding.

Their results are similar to other studies. Continue reading

Mastitis: An Issue Not to be Taken Lightly

Michele Marques, PhD student from the Animal Bioscience Program, Federal Rural University of Pernambuco – Brazil
Guilherme Moura, PhD student from the Animal Bioscience Program, Federal Rural University of Pernambuco – Brazil
Luciana da Costa, DVM, MSc, PhD, OSU Assitant Professor, Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine (da-costa.2@osu.edu)

Mastitis in Small Ruminants:

What is mastitis?
Mastitis in goats and sheep, similar to cows, is defined as inflammation of the mammary gland and can occurs due several factors, which may be infectious or not and may present in clinical or subclinical form. In clinical mastitis, it is possible to observe the signs of inflammation, such as: Continue reading

How can Delayed Weaning Benefit your Operation?

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

At what age do you wean your lambs? This is a question that I have asked producers many times. I have heard ages ranging from 35-130 days of age with the most common answer being 60 days of age. This is the most common weaning age for producers in the eastern United States. When I ask producers why they wean their lambs at 60 days of age or younger, most respond with “that’s the way we have always done it here on the farm, so why change now?”

From a researcher’s perspective, this is not a valid answer. Weaning before the natural weaning age (between 100-180 days of age depending upon sheep breed) is stressful. Weaning stress can lead to decreases in animal performance as demonstrated by decreased weight gain. Weaning stress can also result in decreased animal health as shown by decreases in immune system function that can lead to an increased susceptibility to disease and infection. However, if we were Continue reading

Should I Add More Legumes to My Pasture?

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Noble County

At a glance:

Including legumes in grass pastures has the potential to increase the overall nutritive value of the pasture and decrease the need for supplemental nitrogen fertilizer. Read on to find out if you should add more legumes to your pasture.

What is so special about legumes?

There is something special about legumes that sets them apart from our other forages. They have the ability to foster mutually beneficial relationships with soil bacteria that convert organic nitrogen, which is an unavailable form for plants to utilize, into inorganic nitrogen, making it available for plant uptake. The bacteria Continue reading

Hay Testing for Efficient Winter Feeding

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Educator, Noble County

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

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

How do Finishing Diet Combinations Affect Lamb Performance and Tissue Growth?

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

For those shepherds in the state of Ohio that retain their lambs and finish to a market weight, a high concentrate finishing diet is commonly used. High concentrate diets are favored by producers as these types of diets allow producers to raise their lambs indoors away from predators, at a low cost when grain prices are low, and allow their lambs to reach a market ready weight at an earlier time point when compared to forage fed lambs. However, in today’s market, the production of grass-fed meat products receives a premium. Therefore, in order to capitalize on these premiums, some producers may choose to produce grass fed or pasture raised lamb.

When switching to alternative backgrounding and finishing diets, it is important to understand Continue reading

Best Bets for Frost Seeding

Hay and Forage Grower
(previously published in Hay and Forage Grower, January 2, 2018)

(Image Source: Hay and Forage Grower)

Broadcast seeding in late winter, or frost seeding, is a
widely used strategy to bolster pasture productivity or add new species to the forage mix.

Though not as reliable as seeding with a drill, frost seeding has still been proven as effective and budget friendly. Its success is contingent upon freeze-thaw cycles that enhance seed-soil contact.

“Species for successful frost seeding into pastures need to have Continue reading

Let Forages Guide Grazing Management

Dan Lima
(Previously published in Farm and Dairy, December 21, 2017)

Pasture fields, unlike many annual crop fields, are typically comprised of multiple species of grasses, legumes, and forbs.

Some might even consider the word “forbs” and “weeds” to be interchangeable. Either way, pasture growth will usually translate to livestock gain when properly managed.

Chemical analysis for weedy forbs like redroot pigweed, lambsquarter, ragweed, dandelion, white cockle, and even immature Jerusalem artichoke have a comparative nutritional value to Continue reading

Request a ‘Depredation Permit’ before Black Vultures Attack

Stan Smith, OSU Extension Program Assistant, Fairfield County

Black Vulture

Over the better part of at least the past 15 years, Ohio livestock producers have increasingly experienced problems  with black vultures. Unlike its red headed cousin the turkey vulture that feeds only on the carcasses of dead animals, black vultures are an aggressive bird that will, on occasion, kill other animals for food. It’s not an uncommon occurrence for a black vulture to attack a cow or ewe in the pasture while in labor in an effort to prey on the newly-born offspring even while Continue reading

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

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

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

What worked and what went wrong?
Continue reading

ASI Sheep Handling Videos

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

As explained by Dr. Temple Grandin, appropriate livestock handling and maintaining high standards of animal welfare are key to successfully raising, managing, and marketing livestock of all species. With the support of the American Sheep Industry Association and the Livestock Marketing Association, Dr. Temple Grandin outlines the appropriate methods upon how to handle sheep in any type of management or marketing situation. Understanding sheep from a behavioral standpoint will make working with sheep much easier regardless of the situation.

Listed below are 4 sheep handling videos. Whether you are Continue reading

We’re Pricing Hay all Wrong

Mike Rankin, Hay and Forage Grower managing editor
(Previously featured in Hay & Forage Grower: December 12, 2017)

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

“We need to think about alfalfa as a package of nutrients,” said Bill Weiss, Ohio State University Extension dairy nutritionist. “As such, the value of that alfalfa (or any forage) should reflect the value of the nutrients provided.”

Perhaps most buyers and sellers of hay already think this is being done, but Weiss takes it to another level. He shared his thoughts on valuing hay at the Western Alfalfa & Forage Symposium’s Hay Quality Workshop held in Reno, Nev. Continue reading

The Importance of Colostrum Management

Dr. Cassandra Plummer, DVM, Small Ruminant Veterinarian, Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine

This week we have another article pulled from the archives. Although its original publication date was nearly 10 years ago, this piece does a great job outlining the importance of colostrum. For those that are nearing lambing, be sure to update yourself on the appropriate handling methods regarding the use of donor animal and frozen colostrum.

As we find breeding season winding to a close it is time to start making preparations for lambing season to begin. When preparing for lambing, one thing to consider is your plan for colostrum management. How are you going to get colostrum into your lambs? What if a ewe doesn’t have colostrum? How will you handle orphan lambs or bottle lambs? All of these things need to be considered prior to the start of lambing.

To start out with, what is colostrum? Colostrum is defined as Continue reading

Project to Validate FEC EBVs

Andrew Weaver
(Previously published on the American Consortium for Small Ruminant Parasite Control web page, December 12, 2017)

Since the mid-2000’s, the National Sheep Improvement Program (NSIP) has been providing estimated breed values (EBVs) for parasite resistance. These EBVs have been for fecal egg count (FEC), an indicator trait of resistance. FEC EBVs have allowed producers to select for superior individuals in reducing parasite burden. But do they work?

With the rise of anthelmintic resistance in Continue reading

New Study: Don’t Graze Fescue to the Ground

Lauren Peterson, Hay and Forage Grower summer editorial intern
(Previously featured in Hay & Forage Grower: December 5, 2017)

The verdict is in. Grazing toxic fescue to the ground is dangerous to pastured livestock. Findings released by the University of Missouri indicate that the highest levels of toxic alkaloids are held in the bottom 2 inches of infected grass.

Sarah Kenyon, an MU extension agronomist based in West Plains, Mo., documented these findings in her Ph.D. dissertation.

Kentucky 31 fescue, the most-used grass in Continue reading

Managing Starvation/Hypothermia

Dr. Bill Shulaw, OSU Extension Veterinarian

This piece from Dr. Shulaw was previously posted on the web page about 8 years ago. However, it contains a lot of valuable information as many producers here in the state of Ohio transition into the winter lambing season. Check out this article to refresh yourself on the dangers of the starvation/hypothermia complex. Understanding this complex will help you as a producer better prepare yourself for potential issues during this lambing season.

The starvation/hypothermia complex usually comes about when multiple contributing factors are present and not just the simple occurrence of cold weather. Some of these include failure of the ewe to care for the lamb, difficult birth resulting in a weak lamb, bacterial mastitis in the ewe, “hard bag” in the ewe caused by ovine progressive pneumonia (OPP) virus, and several infectious causes of abortions which also may result in live, but weak, lambs. Most producers will be confronted with the occasional hypothermic lamb. Continue reading

EPA Delays Hazardous Substance Release Notification Deadline

Stan Smith, OSU Extension PA, Fairfield County
(A follow up to the EPA Delays Hazardous Substance Release Notification Deadline post from November 15, 2017)

Late in the day on November 15, 2017, the EPA announced that farms with continuous hazardous substance releases as defined by CERCLA do not have to submit their initial continuous release notification until the DC Circuit Court of Appeals issues its order, or mandate, enforcing the Court’s opinion of April 11, 2017. While it appears the reports will be required sometime, producers may Continue reading

Using Goats to Improve Pastures

Marcus McCartney, OSU Extension Educator, Washington County
(Previously published in Farm and Dairy, December 1, 2017)

Do you have leftover fair goats, or inherited some that did not make weight at the fair?

Perhaps your kids or grandkids have been bugging you for the small ruminant animal for some time. Or by chance, did you come into a small herd recently?

If so, then don’t perceive goat ownership as a chore or inconvenience but rather embrace it, think positive, and start letting the goats work for you.

Useful goats:
There are several ways goats can be a useful management tool in Continue reading

How to get More out of your Pastures and Improve Water Quality

Bob Hendershot, Retired State Grassland Conservationist

Improving your pasture management skills will grow more forage that will have higher quality that will better feed your livestock and make you more money. A better pasture should just keep getting better year after year including; improving the environment; improving the soil, water, air, plants, and animals as well as reducing your energy requirements. Healthy soils can grow healthy plants that can allow animals to grow quicker, stronger and healthier, which will reduce the cost of production. We will discuss ways to improve Continue reading

Changes to Ohio’s Livestock Care Standards Take Effect Jan. 1

Ohio Department of Agriculture (Previously published in Ohio Farmer; 11-20-2017)

(Image Source: Ohio Department of Agriculture, Ohio Livestock Care Standards Guide)

Although the latest changes in Ohio’s Livestock Care Standards may not directly effect sheep producers in the state of Ohio, these regulatory changes can serve as a reminder for sheep producers to look into these Standards to ensure that your operation is adhering to the appropriate guidelines.

By following this link, you will be provided with a quick Fact Sheet that outlines Small ruminant care, handling, transportation, management, housing, and euthanasia.

Also, you can find the full Guide regarding the care of sheep, goats, alpacas, and llamas by following this additional link. Continue reading

Grazing Wind Damaged Corn Residue

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

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

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

Shearing the Flock: When are you Shearing?

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

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

Impact of Selection and Breed on Resistance

Dr. Ken Andries, Kentucky State University
(previously published on wormx.info provided by the American Consortium for Small Ruminant Parasite Control)

Most producers of sheep and goats are experiencing resistant parasites to the common products utilized to control them. This continues to be a growing issue resulting in recommendations for change in management and selection practices. Selection for resistance can improve overall parasite status of a herd and reduce the need for treatment. Finding the individual within the breed that is more resistant is the issue when using selection.

For years, producers have been told they need to utilize selective treatment and cull animals that require greater numbers of treatments. Using the eye color score system (FAMACHA©), we are able to select for resilience, but there is little evidence of the impact on actual resistance using this method. There is also limited information on the impact of different parasites loads on performance of kids. Continue reading

Requirements of Hazardous Substance Reporting by Livestock Farms are Further Clarified

Stan Smith, OSU Extension PA, Fairfield County

Posted in last week’s Ohio BEEF Cattle letter and this week’s OSU Sheep Team blog update, Peggy Kirk Hall and Ellen Essman from OSU’s Agricultural and Resource Law office explained that beginning November 15, 2017, many livestock, poultry and equine farms were required to comply with hazardous substance release reporting requirements under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) section 103. Since that release last week, EPA has offered some further clarification of those requirements. In addition, Peggy Kirk Hall has provided additional Continue reading

Farms Must Begin Reporting Air Releases of Hazardous Substances from Animal Wastes

Peggy Kirk Hall, Assistant Professor, Agricultural and Resource Law
Ellen Essman, Law Fellow

Beginning November 15, 2017, many livestock, poultry and equine farms must comply with reporting requirements under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) section 103. The law requires entities to report releases of hazardous substances above a certain threshold that occur within a 24-hour period. Farms have historically been exempt from most reporting under CERCLA, but in the spring of 2017 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit struck down the rule that allowed reporting exemptions for farms. As long as there is no further action by the Court to push back the effective date, farmers and operators of operations that house beef, dairy, horses, swine and poultry must begin complying with the reporting requirements on November 15, 2017. Continue reading

Mixed Considerations to Mixed Grazing

Lauren Peterson, Hay and Forage Grower summer editorial intern
(Previously featured in Hay & Forage Grower: November 7, 2017)

(Image Source: Hay and Forage Grower)

“Multispecies 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,” says Rob Cook, planned consultation manager for the Noble Research Institute. “These benefits could also lead to increased revenues or decreased costs.”

While multispecies grazing may seem like a no-brainer from an economic and sustainability standpoint, these benefits do not always come easily. The added care and management of an additional species is only one added hassle associated with this profitable, yet challenging undertaking.

Cook asked successful land managers what they most struggle with and then compiled a list of top challenges for multispecies grazing.

Fencing
Producers looking to add sheep or goats to a traditionally cattle-grazed pasture will most likely require reinforced fencing. Cook notes that while producers with the typical five-wire barbwire fencing will struggle to contain smaller ruminants, they can easily be upgraded by adding new strands of hot wire. He adds Continue reading

De-worming Lactating Ewes May Contribute to the Development of Parasitic Resistance

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

Animal production losses associated with internal parasitic infection continues to be of great concern in the small ruminant industry. This is due to the development of parasitic resistance to chemical de-worming products.

For example, when a de-wormer is given at a lower dose than what is recommended on the manufactures label, the parasite in the treated animal may not receive an effective or lethal dose. A concern with treating lactating ewes is that Continue reading

NRCS can Help Develop Water Systems in Pasture Management

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

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

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

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

Don’t Guess, Forage Test!

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

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

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

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

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

Fall Manure Application Tips

By Glen Arnold, OSU Extension Field Specialist, Manure Nutrient Management
Kevin Elder, Livestock Environmental Permitting, Ohio Department of Agriculture

With warmer than normal weather forecast for the next couple of weeks, corn and soybean harvest in Ohio is expected to get back on track. Livestock producers and commercial manure applicators soon will be applying both liquid and solid manure as fields become available. Continue reading

Fall and Winter Grazing Strategies

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

In Ohio it is possible to graze year round. Of course grazing in winter does take planning. Summer is the best time to plan for fall and winter grazing. Why? Because many of our options have tasks associated with them in summer. By planning ahead it is possible in Ohio to have adequate quality, grazable forage for most of the winter. Depending on the class of livestock and their stage of production it is possible to need to feed for weeks in winter as opposed to months.

The cheapest option for fall grazing is Continue reading

No More Free Plastic Scrapie Tags

Susan Schoenian, University of Maryland Extension, Sheep and Goat Specialist

As part of efforts to eradicate scrapie, US sheep and goat producers are required to follow federal and state regulations for officially identifying their sheep and goats. Prior to October 1, 2017, the National Scrapie Eradication Program provided free plastic ear tags and applicators. As of October 1, the program will only provide free metal tags. Continue reading

How Does Harvest Weight and Diet Affect Carcass Characteristics?

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

The most common method for finishing lambs in the United States is the use of a high concentrate diet. Although high concentrate diets allow for lambs to be finished at a younger age, one down fall of this feeding strategy is that lambs may to accumulate an excessive amount of carcass fat. An alternative method to finish lambs would be the use of pasture. Forage fed lambs develop less carcass fat, but require a longer period of time to finish and are harvested at an older age when compared to concentrate fed lambs. In order to determine which feeding strategy will yield the greatest amount of marketable product, a comparison of light and heavy weight lambs on two different diets has been summarized.

In order to make this comparison, lambs were harvested Continue reading

Hardin County Sheep Producers Visit Washington County

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

For most Buckeye’s, this past weekend (October 21-22, 2017) was spent watching Penn State beat that team up north as The Ohio State Buckeyes had the weekend off. However,this was not the case for the sheep producers of the Hardin County Sheep Management tour. For these producers, their weekend was spent in Washington county touring sheep operations that most described as unique due to the benefits and challenges associated with raising sheep in the hills of southeastern Ohio. Continue reading

Antiparasitic Resistance

Video credit: Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine

For those that are interested in the basics of parasitic resistance and a quick overview of how to manage parasites on-farm, view the video below. This is a great resource for all producers raising grazing livestock.

 

Fall Grazing Management and Plant Health

Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Wayne County

Grazing management during the months of September and October directly impacts the vigor and growth of pasture in the spring. For the perennial grass plant the fall season is a time of laying the foundation for next year’s growth. Although seed production is one way that a perennial plant can survive from year to year, in pastures the more important way that plants survive is through re-growth from buds located at the crown of the plant. It is during Continue reading

What Benefits are Gained by Processing Grain Fed to Sheep?

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

How does corn processing and fiber source affect feedlot lamb performance, diet digestibility, nitrogen metabolism?

(Image source: Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association)

Behaviorally, sheep and cattle are very different, especially in the way they eat. Sheep are more selective in their eating pattern and spend more time physically chewing and breaking down their feed than cattle do.

Regardless of the animal we are feeding, it is common practice in the livestock feed industry to process the grains fed to our animals. An issue with feeding processed grain is that due to an increase in surface area, the starches in grain become more readily available for the animal to digest. As a result, an increase in digestion may lead to metabolic issues such as acidosis in our ruminant species.

Therefore, a question of interest that arises is can sheep be fed unprocessed grains without Continue reading

What Flooring and Bedding Materials are You Using in Your Feedlot?

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

What effect does pen flooring type and bedding have on the performance of finishing lambs?

A common management practice used to finish lambs is to house and feed lambs in an enclosed feedlot. Feedlots are used to protect the lambs from several environmental factors, predators, and parasites as well as ensuring the quality and amount of feed each lamb is receiving. Within the feedlot environment, variation in structural design and feedlot management is to be expected. As a producer, have you ever considered Continue reading

Webinar: Replacement Ewe Selection and Culling of Underperforming Ewes

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

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

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

Replacement Ewe Selection and Culling Underperforming Ewes

Ram Management

Tim Barnes, OSU Extension Educator, Marion County

(Image source: Shearwell Data – marking harness)

To achieve maximal fertility, rams should be physically examined for reproductive fitness to detect abnormalities that may affect breeding performance.  A breeding soundness examination can be completed before breeding season.  The scrotum and its contents as well as the penis and prepuce must be carefully examined.  The size and symmetry of both testes and epididymides should be assessed, and both testes should be firmly palpated for consistency and resilience. Semen can be collected and evaluated to check potential sires, particularly in ram lambs.  All screening procedures should be done Continue reading

Fall Grazing Management

Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Wayne County

After clipping pastures throughout the growing season and managing pasture rotations to insure that plants are not overgrazed and that there is enough rest period between grazing passes, it can be tempting in the fall to let grazing management slide. There is fall crop harvest and a number of other fall tasks to get done before winter. However, from a plant health standpoint, overgrazing during the fall is Continue reading

The Importance of Colostrum Management

Dr. Cassandra Plummer, DVM, Small Ruminant Veterinarian, Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine

As we find breeding season winding to a close it is time to start making preparations for lambing season to begin. When preparing for lambing, one thing to consider is your plan for colostrum management. How are you going to get colostrum into your lambs? What if a ewe doesn’t have colostrum? How will you handle orphan lambs or bottle lambs? All of these things need Continue reading

Protect Sheep and Goats with CDT Vaccine

Peggy Coffeen, Dairy/Livestock Editor

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

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

Fall Grazing Management and Plant Health

Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Wayne County

Grazing management during the months of September and October directly impacts the vigor and growth of pasture in the spring. For the perennial grass plant, the fall season is a time of laying the foundation for next year’s growth. Although seed production is one way that a perennial plant can survive from year to year, in pastures the more important way that plants survive is through re-growth from buds located at the crown of the plant. It is during the short day, long night periods in the fall of the year that flower buds are formed/initiated on the crown of the plant. The plant leaf Continue reading

Footrot: Coming Soon to a Flock Near You

Dr. Bill Shulaw, OSU Extension Veterinarian

Green grass is beginning to peek through the brown plant residues on many Ohio pastures. If our weather pattern is typical this spring, we will soon be enjoying warmer, but wetter, weather. Although we will welcome the flush of new forage that this weather will bring, this is the major transmission season for one of the most common of sheep diseases: 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 Continue reading

A Decision Making Support Tool Now Available

Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Wayne County

Sorting through the information on sheep and goat parasite control: A decision making support tool is now available.

Farmers confronted with parasite infections in their sheep and goats soon realize there is no “magic bullet” or “one size fits all” solution. They can be quickly bombarded with a lot of information available on internal parasite control but with no help in sorting out which options they should consider in their farming operation.

OSU Extension personnel have developed a decision making support tool for farmers to develop Continue reading

Poisonous Trees

Clif Little, OSU Extension Educator, Guernsey and Noble Counties

Recent storms downed many trees throughout Ohio and some of these pose a threat to livestock. Poisoning is most common when grazing is scarce, such as periods of dry weather coupled with thunderstorms that down trees during the mid to late summer months.

Listed below are some of the most common poisonous trees found in Ohio pastures. Continue reading

Use FAMACHA Correctly for Best Results

Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Wayne County

An important component of summer management is internal parasite control.  By this point in the calendar year sheep, and/or goats on many farms have rotated through pasture paddocks at least a couple of times. Lactating ewes and does can shed large numbers of parasite eggs, effectively seeding pasture paddocks with parasite larvae that are waiting to be ingested with the next grazing pass.  As young lambs and kids learn to graze at the side of their mothers, they are very susceptible to acquiring large parasite infections. However, parasite loads are not equally distributed within the herd or flock.

Over the past several years targeted selective de-worming treatment of sheep and goats has been promoted as one way to avoid treating the entire flock or herd. Selective treatment can slow down the process of the parasite acquiring chemical resistance and thereby prolong the effectiveness of those chemical de-wormers available to sheep and goat owners. One tool that is being used to determine selective treatment is the FAMACHA system. Continue reading

Identify and Control Poison Hemlock

Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Wayne County

As I have driven around the county the past few weeks, I have noticed some patches of poison hemlock on roadside banks and also in some fields. This is a concern because all parts of this plant including leaves, stems and roots are poisonous when ingested. This is a good time to scout both hay fields and pastures for this weed and take steps to control it. This is not a weed that livestock owners can afford to ignore.

Poison hemlock has an appearance similar to wild carrot and is a member of the parsley family. The plant has compound leaves made up of multiple leaflets that are finely divided and have a triangular shape. Some descriptions say the leaf has a lacy appearance. One of the key identifying characteristics is the stem. The stem of poison hemlock is Continue reading

Use FAMACHA Correctly

Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Educator, Athens County

A number of sheep and goat owners have been trained across Ohio in the use of the FAMACHA system, yet problems with internal parasites, in particular, with Haemonchus contortus continue. This is to be expected. The FAMACHA system utilizes an eyelid scorecard that can help a farmer make a decision to treat or not to treat the animal with a chemical de-wormer. The FAMACHA system is not a cure-all, or a silver bullet for dealing with internal parasites. It is one tool that can be a part of an overall parasite control strategy. In order for this tool to be effective Continue reading

Pasture, Parasites, and Risk Management

Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Educator, Athens County

May through early June is generally a time of good pasture growth and corresponding livestock production. However, if you are grazing sheep and goats this is the time of year that needs careful consideration in regards to internal parasites, in particular Haemonchus contortus, the barber pole worm. One way to approach this grazing season is to think in terms of risk management.

What can be done to reduce or minimize the risk of a heavy parasite infection while sheep and goats graze pastures? Continue reading

CIDRs Now Officially Approved for Sheep

FDA Announces the Approval of a New Product for the Management of Reproduction in Sheep
November 16, 2009

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today is announcing the approval of EAZI-Breed CIDR Sheep Insert (progesterone solid matrix) for induction of estrus in ewes (sheep) during seasonal anestrus. This progesterone Continue reading

Grazing Corn Residue

Dr. Jeff McCutcheon, OSU Extension Educator, Morrow County

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

Breeding Season Preparation

Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Educator, Athens County

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

Parasite Management for Small Ruminants Begins… in the Fall?

Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Educator, Athens County

The biggest enemy of pasture based sheep and goat production has got to be internal parasites and especially, Haemonchus contortus, or the barber pole worm.  Its incredible reproductive capacity, an adult female can lay up to 5,000-10,000 eggs/day, combined with the fact that the infective third stage (L3) larvae can survive 60 to 90 days or more on pasture during Continue reading

Fall Grazing Management

Dr. Jeff McCutcheon, OSU Extension Educator, Knox County

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

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

Monitor Lamb/Kid Worm Burden

Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Educator, Athens County

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

Options for Fall and Winter Grazing

Dr. Jeff McCutcheon, OSU Extension Educator, Knox County

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

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

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

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

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

Pasture Measurement

Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Educator Athens County

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

Spring Pasture Management

Mark Landefeld, OSU Extension Educator, Monroe County

The time of year is quickly approaching when keeping pasture plants in a vegetative state is probably the hardest for forage producers. Managing pasture growth early in the growing season is important to maintain high quality and high quantity forage production throughout the spring, summer and fall. A “spring flush” occurs Continue reading

Interested in Finding Out How Your Lambs are Performing? Have Them Scanned!

Bill and Susan Shultz, Logan County Sheep Producers

Bill and Susan Shultz will be scanning their 2009 lamb crop on Friday, June 20, 2009 at their farm in DeGraff, Ohio. They have contracted with Bonnie Bradford, a skilled technician, to do the scanning of loin eye and back fat as she has done the past three years for the Shultz’s. Continue reading

What Resources are Available to Help Improve Your Sheep Operation?

Curt Cline, Director for Commercial Flock Owners, Co-Chairman of Membership Services OSIA
Daryl Clark, Director for Lamb Feeders, Co-Chairman of Membership Services OSIA

As I begin to embark on this subject, I can’t help but think I should have changed the title to, “Where are the resources available to improve your sheep operation?” Maybe I should begin by explaining what type of resource I am talking about. Natural resources are well, natural if you will. Financial resources come in many shapes. I suppose most people would consider Continue reading

Helpful Resources Available from the American Sheep Industry Association

Tim Fine, OSU Miami County Program Assistant
Dr. Bill Shulaw, OSU Extension Veterinarian

If you are producing sheep in the United States, there are a few resources provided by ASI that you will want to become familiar with.

The Sheep Care Guidepublished in 2006. The Sheep Care Guide was developed to serve as a reference to provide sheep producers with information about Continue reading

Management Considerations to Lower Lamb Mortalities

Dr. Bill Shulaw, OSU Extension Veterinarian

There are many factors that affect lamb survival. Serious shepherds should consult the Sheep Production Handbook, produced by the American Sheep Industry Association (www.sheepusa.org), for a more complete discussion of the various conditions and infectious diseases which impact lamb survival. However, if a pregnancy is carried to term, most losses occur Continue reading

Managing Starvation/Hypothermia

Dr. Bill Shulaw, OSU Extension Veterinarian

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

A Producer’s Perspective of the Sheep Industry after the Trip Out West

Roger High, OSU Ohio State Extension Sheep Specialist

As a long time sheep producer, and one that loves the sheep industry and the people involved in it, it was a fabulous, once in a lifetime experience for me. I have never been to “sheep country” so to speak in all of my years of raising and producing sheep, but this area of the United States is just really part of “sheep country”, but it was so great to be in it. The State of Idaho has approximately 100,000 more sheep than Continue reading

Grazing Wind Damaged Corn Residue

Dr. Jeff McCutcheon, OSU Extension Educator, Morrow County

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

Culling the Sheep Flock

Roger High, OSU Ohio Sheep Extension Program Specialist

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

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

Summer Parasite Management

Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Educator, Athens County

July and August are critical months to control the internal parasite, Haemonchus contortus in pasture based sheep and goat production. Often producers may find that lambs and kids seem to “stand still” during the summer, with little or no weight gain. There can be several reasons for this situation. Continue reading

Pasture Lambing

Bob Hendershot, State Grassland Conservationist

What is lambing like, for your sheep flock, hours per lamb or lambs per hour? The shepherd’s labor and the size of the lambing barn are the two things that limit the size of most Ohio sheep flocks. Pasture-lambing avoids both of these concerns.

Pasture-lambing is the lambing of ewes on pasture where the ewes and newborn lambs bond without being penned or housed. Pasture-lambing works the best in concert with the peak pasture growth. Spring and fall pasture growth can provide the quantity and quality of feed that the ewe will need during the last part of gestation and early lactation. This greatly reduces the feed cost compared Continue reading

Why Wool Prices Differ

Don Van Nostran, Mid-States Wool Growers

Wool is wool is wool. Unfortunately, this is the feeling of many sheep producers when they look at this secondary product produced by the sheep. However, not all wool is the same and a producer has a big effect on the value of their wool clip just by their management practices. Continue reading