Feeding Practices in Sheep

Dr. David G. Pugh, DVM, MS, MAg, DACT, DACVN, DACVM, Auburn University
(Previously published online with the Merck Manual – Veterinary Manual: October, 2022)

Feeding Farm Sheep
Sheep make excellent use of high-quality roughage stored either as hay or low-moisture, grass-legume silage, or occasionally chopped green feed. Good-quality hay or stored forage is a highly productive feed; poor-quality forage, no matter how much is available, is suitable only for maintenance. Hay quality is determined primarily by the following:

  1. its composition, (e.g., a mixture of grasses and legumes such as brome/alfalfa or bluegrass/clover)
  2. the stage of maturity when cut (e.g., the grass before heading and alfalfa before one-tenth bloom)
  3. method and speed of harvesting due to loss of leaf, bleaching by sun, and leaching by rain
  4. spoilage and loss during storage and feeding

In general, the same factors influence the quality of Continue reading

Expect to See More Ticks Statewide this Season

Farm and Dairy
(Previously Published online with Farm and Dairy: May 1, 2023)

Backyard lovers, campers, outdoors enthusiasts, and pet owners beware. If you thought last year’s tick season was bad, just wait. This year has the potential to be even worse.

Ticks — and the diseases they carry — are on the rise in Ohio and will likely continue to increase. There has been a steady increase in tick-vectored disease numbers in Ohio each year, and officials don’t expect to see a reverse of the trend, said Tim McDermott, an educator with Ohio State University Extension, the outreach arm of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

“While you can encounter a tick during any season, spring marks the beginning of heavy tick season, and this year, the tick population statewide is expected to continue to rise,” he said.

McDermott said there are multiple factors contributing to Continue reading

Some Ideas About Crossbreeding Sheep

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

Why do commercial producers crossbreed sheep-or any animal, for that matter? There are two reasons. First, no breed of sheep is best in all characteristics. If a producer combines the best characteristics of several different breeds, they have a chance to get a better combination than he could get with any one breed. This is called breed complementarity.

As an example of this, the Finnish Landrace sheep are extremely early maturing and have a very high lambing rate. They do, however, have relatively poor conformation, and the wool is of poor quality. Rambouillet sheep, on the other hand, produce excellent wool, but they do not have a high lambing rate and they are slow maturing. Neither of these two breeds excels in growth rate and carcass conformation. The meat breeds are also used to sire market lambs because they are growthier and produce excellent carcasses. The meat breeds are not well adapted to many conditions under which sheep are raised, however.

Another reason for crossbreeding is that Continue reading

Lambing and Kidding Assistance Survey

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

As your lambing and kidding season wraps up, we are hoping that you could help us better understand the prevalence of birthing assistance in small ruminants. Please take this quick survey to let us know your level of birthing assistance in your operation- even if it was zero. https://go.osu.edu/lkassist

First Cutting Can Make or Break a Season

Mike Rankin, Hay and Forage Grower Managing Editor
(Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: April 11, 2023)

Over the course of the next two months, a large number of hay implements will venture out into fields for their maiden voyage of 2023. Be it grass or alfalfa, first cutting separates itself as a time that often defines the hay or haylage harvest season.

One of the unique advantages of harvesting forage is that desired forage quality can largely be attained by the grower simply manipulating the time of cutting. In the same vein, yield can also be dictated, but at the expense of forage quality.

No other harvest during the year offers more opportunity for obtaining high forage quality — as defined by digestible fiber — than the initial spring cutting. Further, this forage often makes up the greatest proportion of Continue reading

Considerations for Selecting and Installing an Electric Fence Charger

Kable Thurlow,  Beef and Grazing Educator, Michigan State University
Thomas Guthrie, Statewide Equine Educator, Michigan State University
Timothy Harrigan, Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering, Michigan State University
(Previously published online with Michigan State University Extension: June 22, 2022)

This bulletin covers the factors involved when selecting and installing an electric fence charger system to contain your livestock safely.

If properly constructed, a good fence should keep livestock contained and last 25 to 30 years without major repairs or total replacement. The old saying, “a good fence makes for good neighbors,” is true. Choosing high-quality materials when building your fence will ensure that it will be effective and last for many years. In some cases, electric fencing may be a significant part of a livestock operation’s fencing plan.

Electric fence technology has Continue reading