Improving Newborn Lamb Survival

Melanie Barkley, Livestock Extension Educator, Penn State Extension
(previously published with Penn State Extension: March 17, 2016)

Livestock market prices are very good right now and I can’t think of a better time to be more concerned about newborn lamb survival.

Even if we are talking about only five lambs, at 75 pounds per lamb and at least $2.00 a pound market value, we are looking at an overall value of $750. This can be even more when we factor in the value of breeding stock. So, let’s look at a few ways we can ensure that lambs survive past birth.

Nutrition plays a critical role in the survivability of lambs both prior to and during lambing. Sufficient nutrient levels are needed for fetal development. This includes growth of the lamb, fat reserves at birth, and vigor once that lamb is born. Nutrition also has an effect on the quality and quantity of colostrum and we all know the importance of lambs receiving colostrum as soon as possible after birth. Ewes should have adequate amounts of feed, feed that provides the correct amount of protein and energy, and a good mineral supplement to keep them healthy and allow them to produce healthy lambs that are adequate in size. Continue reading

That Time of Year Again

Haley Zynda, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Wayne County

(Image Source: Michigan State University Extension)

As the days get shorter and the nights cooler, many shepherds are thinking about the upcoming breeding season. That is, if they haven’t already let their rams introduce themselves to the ladies. Breeding season is the exciting precursor and indicator of what kind of lamb crop you will have come spring. To ensure a successful lamb crop, there are a few things to consider and potentially remedy prior to letting the rams in with the ewes.

Rams
Just as bulls have breeding soundness exams (BSE), rams can go through a similar process to identify which rams should or should not be used. The Merck Veterinary Manual published a list of characteristics that need to be evaluated, the first of which is Continue reading

Small Ruminant AI Day in Licking County (August 21, 2021)

Dean Kreager, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Licking County

(Image Source: K Bar K Farm)

Artificial Insemination (AI) results from a multi-breeder insemination day in Licking County.

The Licking County Sheep Improvement Association has been working with OSU Extension to provide the opportunity for multiple breeders to bring sheep to one location for artificial insemination. The August 2020 date marked the 3rd year of this event. Insemination of 104 sheep occurred during the 2020 event and included both fresh and frozen semen.

Below, breeding results from the 2020 event include the use of 20 different rams among 10 different producers. Continue reading

Crossbreeding for Profit

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

With breeding animal sale season upon us, now is the time to consider and finalize your plans for the 2021 breeding season. Acquiring breeding rams and bucks prior to use and need is critical as this time period allows for producers to both quarantine and acclimate newly purchased stock to their operations. For those with commercial based flocks and herds, crossbreeding may be your ticket to achieving greater growth efficiencies and price premiums.

Crossbreeding is probably the most misunderstood and underappreciated practice in commercial livestock production. Crossbreeding is the mating of males and females of different breeds or breed types. Purebreeding is the mating of individuals of the same breed or type. Crossbreeding is the recommended breeding strategy for commercial meat sheep and meat goat production.

As a breeding practice, crossbreeding does not Continue reading

Pre-Breeding Management of Rams and Ewes

David C. Van Metre, DVM, DACVIM Extension Veterinarian, Colorado State University
(Previously published online with Veterinary Extension through Colorado State University)

Important notes for both spring and fall breeding!

The pre-breeding period is defined as the 8-10 week period prior to the first day that rams are turned out with the ewes. Although it is traditionally a relatively quiet period for the sheep producer, the pre-breeding period involves multiple physiologic processes in the ram and ewe that can significantly impact fertility during breeding season, and therefore can subsequently impact the size and uniformity of the lamb flock. During this period of time, the sheep producer can conduct a few fairly simple management practices to ensure that the ram and ewe flock are in optimal physical condition for breeding.

Pre-Breeding Evaluation of the Ram Flock
Creation of sperm in rams requires approximately Continue reading

2021 Small Ruminant Webinar Series: Commercial Sheep Culling Criteria

In Webinar #3 of the 2021 OSU Small Ruminant Webinar Series, Dalton Huhn, Research Assistant at the OSU Eastern Agricultural Research Station, gives viewers an overview of the culling criteria used to maintain the flock at the research farm.

Thank you all for joining us for the 2021 OSU Small Ruminant Webinar Series! If you have any comments on how we can improve or ideas for future webinars, please contact Brady Campbell at campbell.1279@osu.edu or Christine Gelley at gelley.2@osu.edu

Critical Nutrition Inputs for Ewe Nutrition

Dr. Dan Morrical, Extension Sheep Specialist, Iowa State University
(Excerpt previously published during the 2017 Virginia Shepherd’s Symposium)

Introduction:
Sheep nutrition and feeding is extremely critical to the success or failure of the ewe flock enterprise. As shepherds our task is to provide balanced rations to meet the ewe’s nutrient requirements on the least costly basis. Feed costs account for half the cost of producing lamb and wool. Therefore, cost control must always be foremost in the shepherd’s mind. Sheep enterprises face a greater challenge in meeting needs of the flock because of the large within flock and between flock variations. This paper reflects the general guidelines for feeding ewes; however, each operation must adapt and modify these guidelines for their specific operation.

Nutrient Requirements:
The amount of nutrients the sheep require is affected by several factors. These include ewe age and weight along with Continue reading