Tips for Selling Sheep and Goats Through Public Livestock Auctions

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

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

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

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

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

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

What Data are you Collecting? The Value of NSIP in Commercial Production

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

Data collection. Seems pretty simple right? Most of you are probably reading this and thinking, “we already collect data on our flock, what else could he be talking about?” As any good shepherd would do, you are probably recording the basic information such as sex, birth date, birth type, dam, sire, and individual identification on each newborn in your flock. Some of you may even be collecting birth and weaning weights to gather a better understand on the performance of your flock in the short term. However, I will venture to say Continue reading

Taking a Measured Approach to Lamb Production

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

(Image Source: Ohio Farmer)

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

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

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

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 ANR, 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