Preparing Sheep and Goats for Breeding Season

Michael Metzger, Michigan State University Extension Educator
(Previously published on MSU Extension, Sheep & Goat: September 7, 2022)

(Image Source: Michael Metzger, MSU Extension)

As fall approaches, so does the normal breeding season for most sheep and goats. Consideration for things like parasite count, hoof health, body condition scoring, and overall health of breeding stock should be evaluated prior to breeding.

Internal Parasites
All breeding stock, males and females, should be checked for internal parasites. The FAMANCHA eye scoring system allows small ruminant producers to make deworming decisions based on an estimate of the level of anemia in sheep. Animals that are showing a high FAMANCHA score (over 3) or have an elevated fecal egg count should be treated for internal parasites before breeding season. Managing internal parasites is an important management practice. Problems with parasites, especially gastrointestinal parasites, can cause irreversible damage and even death to the animal.

Hoof Care
Animals with long or damaged hooves should be trimmed before breeding season as well. You should inspect the animals’ hoofs and using a knife or hoof trimmers, remove any dirt, mud, manure, or stones from the hoof walls and then trim accordingly. A strong, rotten smell is often an indication of hoof rot, which can be treated by using a commercially available anti-fungal product.

Body Condition Scoring
Body Condition Score, or BCS, is a system used 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.

Licking County Hosting Lambing and Kidding School

Dean Kreager, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Licking County

2022 Licking County Lambing and Kidding School

OSU Extension in Licking County and the Licking County Sheep Improvement Association are providing a Lambing and Kidding School on Thursday, October 20th from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. There will be no fee for this class, but we do require registration by October 17th.  Call 740-670-5315 to make your reservation. The location will be the Licking Valley Church of Christ at 158 Dayton Rd NE, Newark OH 43055.

With lambing and kidding seasons approaching, now is the time to prepare. Our class will discuss nutrition needs for nannies and ewes, pregnancy management from beginning to end and delivery techniques using hands on birthing simulators. Lunch will be included!

Flushing The Ewe Flock: Is It Beneficial?

Anita O’Brien, Sheep and Goat Specialist, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs
(Previously published online as an OMAFRA publication: February 11, 2010)

The practice of increasing nutrient intake and body condition prior to and during breeding is called flushing. Its purpose is to increase the rate of ovulation and, hence, lambing rate.

The response to flushing is influenced by:

  • age of the ewe (mature ewes show a greater response than yearlings)
  • breed (prolific breeds are least responsive)
  • body condition (thin ewes respond more than those in above- average condition)
  • stage of the breeding season (greatest response is seen early and late in the breeding season).

Flushing is especially beneficial for Continue reading