Impacts of Large-Scale Solar on Rural Communities – A Research Perspective

Vegetation management, regardless of the application, has been a hot topic it seems for the year of 2023. Thankfully for small ruminant producers, sheep and goats seem to fit the needs of various industries as it relates to controlling forages and or weeds/brush in a given area. A month ago I had the opportunity to speak with a group of researchers that are focusing on the impacts of utility-scale solar within rural landscapes. For those that are interested in the topic, I encourage you to have a look this series of presentations focusing on the various aspects of solar power generation in the Midwest and eastern United States. You may even recognize a presenter at time stamp 26:20 in the video. Enjoy!

2023 eBarns Report Now Available

eBarns – Connecting Science to Farmers

2023 eBarns Report

eBarns is a program at The Ohio State University dedicated to advancing production agriculture through the use of field-scale and applied research. The 2023 eBarns Report is a combination of the research conducted on partner farms and Ohio State agricultural research stations throughout Ohio. Current research is focused on enhancing animal production, growing high-quality forages, precisions nutrient management and to develop analytical tools for digital agriculture.

In this second addition of eBarns we have included research studies not only from the past year, but studies from previous years that have yet to be summarized in a producer friendly manner. It is our goal to continue to share result from applied livestock, forage, and manure nutrient management in this publication for years to come.

2023 Research Recap:
25 Total Studies 

  • 4 Forages
  • 4 Dairy
  • 3 Beef
  • 6 Small Ruminant 
  • 5 Manure Nutrients
  • 2 Equine
  • 1 Poultry

Gene Editing Could Rid Sheep of Problematic Long Tails

Devin Rokyta, College of Veterinary Medicine, Washington State University
(Previously published online with Washington State University: June 26, 2023)

Take a look at what a former Buckeye is doing to improve the efficiency of on-farm sheep production practices!

Longer tails have long given sheep producers across the globe problems — but a research project spearheaded by Washington State University graduate student Brietta Latham could eliminate the trait.

While breeds in other regions naturally have short tails, most domestic sheep have longer tails that can lead to hygienic concerns and health issues, including fly strike, a painful and potentially deadly condition caused by blowflies that lay their eggs on sheep. Industry standard has been to dock the animals’ tails, which can be painful for the sheep and time-consuming and costly for producers.

Latham was recently awarded a three-year fellowship by the United States Department of Agriculture for her proposal to Continue reading Gene Editing Could Rid Sheep of Problematic Long Tails

eBarns – Putting Data in Producers’ Hands

Garth Ruff, Beef Cattle Field Specialist, OSU Extension

In 1914, the Smith-Lever Act called for establishment of Extension program within land grant universities. The Act spells out that Extension is to disseminate “useful and practical information on subjects related to agriculture” and to disseminate reach being conducted at the experiment stations (OARDC – Ohio Agriculture, Research, and Development Center – here in Ohio).

Over the year’s this “translation” of research has been done in a variety of ways including field days, seminars, one-on-one instruction, and via printed or digital newsletters. Traditionally, faculty who had Extension responsibilities on campus led research efforts, wrote academic journal articles, and then it was up to someone to share and interpret data that was meaningful to clientele in the counties across the state. eBarns, much like Ohio State Extension’s eFields publication does just that, putting the data of applied research into the hands of producers who can then interpret the research to make production decisions.

eBarns in new in 2022, focusing on applied livestock, forage, and manure management research across Ohio. The report can be found online at Continue reading eBarns – Putting Data in Producers’ Hands

Evaluating Online Sheep Experts

Eastern Alliance for Production Katahdins (EAPK) Communications Committee
(Previously published online with EAPK: August 2, 2022)

With decreasing numbers of sheep extension agents, sheep research professors and small ruminant DVMs, our options for finding knowledgeable experts are becoming more limited. At the same time, the number of sheep “experts” on Facebook, YouTube, and other social media is growing exponentially. Today, sheep producers are able to obtain “expert” advice from across the country or around the world in a matter of seconds. While advances in technology have shaped the way we communicate information, it has also led to a plethora of misinformation that is often presented as fact, either intentionally or unintentionally. So, how do we navigate through this quagmire of information to determine whether the advice we receive is based on truth and facts or hearsay and half-truths? How can we determine if the “expert” really has the knowledge, skills, and experience to provide us with unbiased, accurate answers to our questions?

It’s human nature to want simple, definitive, one-size-fits-all answers. More and more we find ourselves surfing the internet looking for a quick answer to very complicated questions. Questions related to livestock production are Continue reading Evaluating Online Sheep Experts

Winter Grazing: Annual Forages Improve Lamb Growth and Health Parameters

Dr. Brady Campbell, Assistant Professor, State Small Ruminant Extension Specialist

Fall is for harvest. Whether directly involved in production agriculture or a consumer of its products, most associate this time of year with combines harvesting soybeans and corn in the field or farm stands filled with pumpkins and apple cider. However, for livestock producers and especially those raising ruminants, harvest looks a bit different. This time period is the final push for grazing corn fodder/stubble, stockpiled forages, or annuals planted in the late summer before environmental conditions force producers off of pasture and into the barn or drylot to feed grain and hay. For those that planned ahead, well done! Each of these options provide high quality feedstuffs that are self harvested by the animal, resulting in a cheaper feed source. For those that weren’t able to sacrifice the land or weren’t prepared for planting, no worries, there is always next year.

Some of you may be thinking, what forages would provide enough nutritional quality to get me through the year? For those that were able

Continue reading Winter Grazing: Annual Forages Improve Lamb Growth and Health Parameters

Rangeland Sheep Research

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Noble County

On the border of Southwestern Montana and Eastern Idaho lay the rangelands that comprise the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) U.S. Sheep Experiment Station. My interest in sheep production and my nephew’s enjoyment of road trips, led us on the three-hour trek from Bozeman, Montana to Dubois, Idaho last week to set foot on the influential sites where many American sheep research and rangeland management discoveries originated. After catching up over lunch at an old-fashioned soda fountain in Ennis, Montana, we crossed the Idaho border, and continued on through beautiful stretches of native rangelands peppered with cattle grazing as we followed winding gravel roads to Dubois.

The Sheep Experiment Station Headquarters is located about six miles north of Dubois, although the grazing lands under station management total over 48,000 acres in two states, Idaho and Montana. Station Research Leader- Dr. Joshua Bret Taylor met us upon arrival at headquarters and gave us a whirlwind tour of the main facilities located on the 28,000-acre site surrounding the station office. Some of the earliest research on Continue reading Rangeland Sheep Research

What Benefits are Gained by Processing Grain Fed to Sheep?

Pulling from our archives, we thought that it would be appropriate to re-share this article as it is a timely piece that was shared in one of Dr. Francis Fluharty’s presentations at the 2020 Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium. We hope that you enjoy!

How does corn processing and fiber source affect feedlot lamb performance, diet digestibility, nitrogen metabolism?

Behaviorally, sheep and cattle are very different, especially in the way they eat. Sheep are more selective in their eating pattern and spend more time physically chewing and breaking down their feed than cattle do.

Regardless of the animal we are feeding, it is common practice in the livestock feed industry to process the grains fed to our animals. An issue with feeding processed grain is that due to an increase in surface area, the starches in grain become more readily available for the animal to digest. As a result, an increase in digestion may lead to metabolic issues such as acidosis in our ruminant species.

Therefore, a question of interest that arises is Continue reading What Benefits are Gained by Processing Grain Fed to Sheep?

Lamb Industry Requires Further Change, says American Lamb Summit

American Lamb Board
(Previously published in the ASI Weekly Newsletter – September 6, 2019)

Outcomes from the inaugural American Lamb Summit were clear: all segments of the industry need to further improve lamb quality to keep and attract new customers and become more efficient to recapture market share from imported lamb. Yet, it was just as clear that production technologies and product research put industry success within grasp.

“I have never been so enthusiastic about our industry’s opportunities, but we just can’t allow ourselves to be complacent or accept status quo,” said Dale Thorne, American Lamb Board chairman, a sheep producer and feeder from Michigan. Thorne stressed, “the end-game is profitability for all aspects of our industry.” Continue reading Lamb Industry Requires Further Change, says American Lamb Summit