Thursday, March 26, 2015

Scrapie Update

 Since the beginning of FY 2015, 29 sheep have tested positive for scrapie; 26 of these positives were from the same source flock. Two goats have tested for positive --both from the same herd. The most recent positive case was confirmed on February 18, 2015.

Since the beginning of FY 2015,12,683 sheep and 3,325 goats have been tested for scrapie. In November 2014, the first positive goat found through slaughter surveillance was identified. Based on the goats sampled at slaughter to date, the prevalence of scrapie in U.S. cull goats is 0.004 percent.

To report a sheep or goat with clinical signs of scrapie, please contact your local VS office.  To learn more about scrapie, the disease, and the national scrapie eradication program visit the APHIS VS Scrapie Website and

View February monthly scrapie report via PowerPoint

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Pasture Management Webinars: Follow-up Survey

If  you participated in the 2015 Pasture Management for Small Ruminant Webinar Series, recently hosted by University of Maryland Extension (Susan Schoenian & Jeff Semler), please complete this short survey. Your answers will help us to improve educational offerings for small ruminant producers. 

Please complete the survey regardless of whether you participated live or watched the recordings. You may complete the survey at a later time, if you haven't had a chance to view all the videos -- or you are waiting for the YouTube videos, soon to be available via the Maryland Extension Small Ruminant Program YouTube channel.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Webinar Recordings: Pasture Management

The title of the 2015 Winter Webinar Series was Pasture Management for Small Ruminant Producers. The webinars were held on consecutive Wednesday evenings in February and March. 

All of the webinars were recorded. They have been minimally edited and made public for viewing. Links to the recordings are available at There are also links to the PowerPoint presentations.
  1. Planning a pasture system
  2.  Pasture plants, including alternative forages
  3. Pasture and grazing management
  4. Pasture nutrition
  5. Pasture health
These and previous webinars are in the process of being converted to YouTube videos. The aforementioned page will have links to the YouTube videos. The videos can also be accessed from the Maryland Small Ruminant Extension Program YouTube Channel. Be sure to subscribe to the YouTube channel so we can get a "friendly" (custom) url.

All webinar recordings and links

Friday, March 20, 2015

Increased Demand at Easter

The demand for kid (goat) and especially lamb increases prior to the Easter holidays. Easter is a Christian feast commemorating the Resurrection of Jesus after his crucifixion.

Hothouse lamb in NYC
Western Christian churches and Eastern Orthodox Christian churches use different calendars (Gregorian vs. Julian) to determine the date of Easter. Sometimes, the two Easters fall on the same day. Sometimes, they are more than a month apart.  This year, Roman (Western) Easter and Greek (Eastern Orthodox) Easter are only one week apart. Roman Easter is on April 5, while Greek Easter is on April 12.

The demand for kid and lamb is usually stronger for Eastern Orthodox Easter. Eastern Orthodox Christians come from a variety of ethnic backgrounds: Greek, Russian, Egyptian, Romanian, Serbian, Ukrainian, Armenian, Bulgarian, Georgian, Albanian, Ethiopian, Syrian, and American.

The type of lamb or kid preferred for the Easter holiday is usually a "hothouse" lamb or kid.  Hothouse lambs are young, milk-fed lambs weighing between 30 and 50 lbs (live). Certain breeds are more suitable to be sold as hothouse lambs, including Southdown, Dorset, Dorper, Cheviot, etc. Large frame breeds and hair sheep aren't as suitable for the Easter hothouse market, as they don't have as much fleshing at the light weights at which they'd be sold.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Goat AI Short Course in North Carolina

North Carolina State University will be holding a Goat Artificial Insemination (AI) Short Course on August 10-12, 2015, at the Small Ruminant Educational Unit on the North Campus of North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina.

The 3-day short course is designed to provide participants with both theoretical background and significant opportunity for hands-on practice needed to facilitate the adoption of artificial insemination into their goat breeding programs. With the use of improved transcervical AI breeding techniques for goats, pregnancy rates comparable to those routinely achieved for AI in cattle are now possible.

The short course will consist of an initial series of lectures on Monday morning coupled with four hands-on practice sessions (Monday pm, Tuesday am & pm, and Wednesday am). Lecture topics will include anatomy & physiology of the female reproductive tract, estrous & ovulation synchronization, AI breeding techniques (standard and improved), and the use of frozen semen for AI.

For more information and to register online, go to:

Thursday, March 5, 2015

A Successful Small Ruminant Expo

Over 140 people, including 35 youth, attended the first-ever Maryland Small Ruminant Expo. The Expo was held February 28 at the Frederick County 4-H Camp & Activities Center in Frederick.

Youth program - goat necropsy
The adult program featured concurrent educational tracks on pasture, health, marketing and alternative enterprises (dairy and fiber). There were four producer panels. Dr. Lindsay Lane was one of the featured speakers. Before attending veterinary school in the Cayman Islands and Minnesota, Dr. Lane was the farm manager for the University of Maryland College Park.

There was a separate educational program for youth, ages 8-18. It featured sessions on dairy, wool, and meat. In the dairy session, youth learned how to make soap. They felted wool and made wool grading posters in the wool session, and learned how to cook goat meat in the meat session. In the final session, "No Guts, No Glory," Dr. Lane taught the kids how to dissect lambs and kids to determine their cause of death.

Lunch was a taco bar, featuring locally-sourced goat meat and lamb and cheeses made from sheep and goat milk. Thanks to Bridgestone Manor Farm for providing the goat. The cheeses were provided by Caprikorn Farms and Shepherd's Manor Creamery. The lamb was purchased from Holsinger's Meats.

The Maryland-Pennsylvania-West Virginia Goat Producers Association and University of Maryland Beginning Farmer Success Project provided financial support for the Expo. Door prizes were donated by the University of Maryland Small Ruminant Extension Program, Maryland Ag Experiment Station, and Kent Feeds.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Goat AI Clinic in Western Maryland

In partnership with University of Maryland Extension, the Maryland Dairy Goat Association (MDGA) will be hosting a Goat Artificial Insemination (AI) Clinic on May 5-6, 2015, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., at the Washington County Ag Expo in Boonsboro, Maryland.

The clinic will be taught by Bio-Genetics, LTD. The first day will be spent in a classroom learning environment. The second day will be hands-on training. Participants must provide their own AI equipment, as well as a doe in heat. For information about equipment and bringing does into heat, go to the Bio-Genetics web site or call their office at (208) 756-6500.

The cost of attending is $200 for MDGA members and $225 for non-members. A deposit of $50 will hold a place. The balance of payment is due April 25. Checks made payable to the Maryland Dairy Goat Association should be sent to MDGA Treasurer: Janice Kessler, 6170 Clearview Road, Dover, PA  17315.

Download program flyer

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Endophyte-infected Fescue Reduces Fetal Growth

Researchers at Clemson University determined that exposure to ergot alkaloids during gestation reduces fetal growth in sheep. Tall fescue (Lolium arundinaceum), the primary cool season perennial grass in the Eastern United States, contains an endophyte which produces ergot alkaloids that cause vasoconstriction and could restrict the blood flow to the fetus in pregnant ewes.

The objective of the study was to examine fetal growth  during maternal exposure to ergot alkaloids during gestation. Pregnant Southdown ewes (n=16) were randomly assigned to one of two dietary treatments: 1) endophyte infected tall fescue seed (E+) and 2) endophyte-free tall fescue seed (E-).  The fescue seed was delivered daily in a total mixed ration. The seed compromised 38.5% of the ration.The fescue seed was fed to simlulate the fescue toxicosis syndrome during gestation (d 35 to parturition).

Birth weights of lambs were reduced by 37 percent for the E+ compared to E-. Organ and muscle weights were also lighter for E+ comapred to E-.  The researchers concluded that exposure to ergot alkaloids in utero reduces fetal growth and muscle development. Additional research is needed to determine mechanisms by which ergot alkaloids reduce fetal growth and the critical time periods of exposure in order to mitigate its effects on fetal growth. 

Read full paper

Friday, February 27, 2015

2015 Tuskegee Goat Day

Tuskegee University's 2015 Annual Goat Day will be held Saturday, April 18 at the Caprine Research & Education Unit at Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, Alabama.

The theme of this year's Goat Day is diseases and parasites.

The Goat Day is sponsored by George Washington Carver Agricultural Experiment Station, Tuskegee University Cooperative Extension and ALFA Meat Goat and Sheep Producers Committee.

Go to web site

Thursday, February 19, 2015

New Videos on Parasite Control

The Northeast Small Ruminant Parasite Control Program has created three instructional videos:
  1. How and why to do FAMACHA© scoring
  2. How and why to do sheep and goat fecal egg counting
  3. Microscope crash course for fecal egg counting
Gastrointestinal nematode (GIN) parasites, such as the barber pole worm (Haemonchus contortus), are a serious problem, affecting small ruminant production throughout New England and the world. The goal of Northeast Small Ruminant Parasite Control Program is to improve the parasite control practices of farmers in New England.

Project partners include Cornell University, University of Rhode Island, University of Wisconsin-Madison, West Virginia University, and the VA-MD Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. For more information about this project including additional resources and updates, go to

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

New Fact Sheet on Coccidiosis

NCAT-ATTRA has published a new fact sheet: Coccidiosis: Symptoms, Prevention, and Treatment in Sheep, Goats, and Calves. It is written by Linda Coffey. Linda is a member of the American Consortium for Small Ruminant Parasite Control (ACSRPC).

Coccidiosis is a common and damaging illness of sheep, goats, and cattle, particularly young lambs, kids, and calves. Producers will benefit from understanding the causes, and especially the prevention, of this illness.

ATTRA is a program developed and managed by the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT). ATTRA services are available to farmers, ranchers, market gardeners, Extension agents, researchers, educators, farm organizations, and others involved in agriculture, especially those who are economically disadvantaged or belong to traditionally underserved communities.

Fact sheet summary
Free download

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Follow Markets On Your Smart Phone

You can follow the lamb and wool markets on your smart phone. ASI Market News is produced by the American Sheep Industry Association to help sheep producers stay informed on current market conditions.

The app displays 6 national as well as 7 auction barn reports for locations across the United States. The report data is compiled by the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service. From the front page, users can select to search national reports or auction reports

While the number of eastern markets is limited --  only sale barns that have USDA reporting are being used in the app -- the app includes the New Holland (PA) auction report. New Holland is the largest sheep and goat market in the Eastern US.  Lambs sold at New Holland are usually destined for non-traditional markets.

The app was recently updated to include more Eastern reports and a "breakeven calculator." So far, more than 2050 people have downloaded the app. The app allows producers to make more informed marketing decisions.

ASI Market News is available for both Apple and Android operating systems and can be downloaded from their respective stores.

Apple's App Store
Android Store