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

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

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

Label Language Continues to Confuse Consumers

Garth Ruff, OSU Extension Educator, Henry County

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

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

What Finishing Diet Should I Feed my Lambs?

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

Do lambs perform and hang better carcasses when grazed on grasses, legumes, or fed an all concentrate diet?

Before to asking these questions, producers must first determine the goal of their operation. Resources such as land, labor, time, and money all play a critical role in the daily management of an operation. In today’s society, there are two types of consumers. Those that want access to quality protein sources at low prices, and those that are willing to pay a premium for specialty products (i.e. grass-fed lamb). When grain prices are low, it may be more economical for producers to finish lambs on grain. However, in order to reach a premium through specialty markets, producers may choose to finish their lambs on pasture. Regardless of which finishing strategy is chosen, producers need to understand both Continue reading

To Finish or Sell at Weaning

Clif Little, OSU Extension Educator, Guernsey County

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

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

HSUS Paints Bulls-eye on Ohio

Elizabeth Harsh, Executive Director of Ohio Cattlemen’s Association

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

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