Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Winter 2017 Wild & Woolly

The Winter 2017 issue of Wild & Woolly has been published and is available in several formats. The quarterly newsletter for sheep and goat producers is published by University of Maryland Extension. This issue was written and compiled by Jeff Semler, as I am on sabbatical until June 1. Jeff is the Ag Extension Agent in Washington County, Maryland.


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Upcoming Webinar: Dairy Sheep

"Is Sheep Milk Production in Your Future" is the title of an upcoming webinar on March 14, 2017, at 8 p.m. EST. The presenter is Dr. Dave Thomas, Professor of Sheep Management and Genetics from the University of Wisconsin (retired). The host is Jay Parsons from Optimal Ag. The sponsor is ASI's Let's Grow Program.

Milking sheep in Maryland
The U.S. is the leading importing of sheep milk cheeses in the world with over half of all world trade in sheep milk cheeses coming to the U.S. Some common imported 100% sheep milk cheeses are Manchego from Spain, Pecorino-Romano from Italy, and Roquefort from France.

Therefore, it would seem that there is ample opportunity for the development of a dairy sheep industry in the U.S. for the production of domestic cheeses to compete with this large influx of imported sheep milk cheeses.

However, nothing is ever as simple as it looks. This webinar will discuss the things that are necessary to produce sheep milk efficiently .

To register for the webinar, go to

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

2017 Maryland Sheep Shearing School

The 2017 Maryland Sheep Breeders Association (MSBA) Sheep Shearing School will be held Friday and Saturday, April 14-15 (Friday and Saturday), 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Ridgely Thompson's farm at 1942 Uniontown Road, Westminster, MD 21157.

The school is open to anyone in Maryland, Delaware and surrounding states who wants to learn to shear sheep. Ownership of sheep or a desire to become a commercial shearer is preferred. Participation is limited to 15 people. The minimum age is 16.

The New Zealand method of shearing will be taught. Shearing machines will be provided. Blade shearing will not be taught. Instructors are Aaron Geiman and Emily Chamelin-Hickman. Aaron is an Agriscience teacher at North Carroll High School. Emily is a professional shearer.

The registration fee is $100 per person and includes a copy of ASI's Sheep Shearing Notebook, instructional DVD, and wall chart. Pre-registration is required. No registrations will be accepted after April 1.  Checks should be made payable to the Maryland Sheep Breeders Association, Inc. and mailed to Aaron Geiman at 429 Hook Road, Westminster,  Maryland  21157.

Download registration form

Monday, February 6, 2017

Regional NSIP Workshops

There will be a series of National Sheep Improvement Program (NSIP) workshops, "Getting Your Genetics Right: Converting Performance Records into Relevant Decision-Making Tools."  The workshops will be held March 1-11 in New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. The target audience is meat sheep and meat goat producers.

NSIP is a quantitative genetic evaluation program for sheep and goats. It calculates EBVs or estimated breeding values. The workshops are being conducted as part of a Northeast SARE project, "New Approaches for Improving Integrated Parasite Control Strategies for Small Ruminants in the Northeast."

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Using COWPs to Improve Dewormer Efficacy

USDA ARS (Boonville, Arkansas) conducted an experiment in weaned lambs to determine the effect of treatment with two sources of copper oxide wire particles (COWP), albendazole (Valbazen®), or a combination of albendazole and COWP. There were five treatment groups:

1.  Control (no treatment)
2.  COWP (Copasture®)
3.  COWP (Ultracruz™)
4.  COWP + albendazole
5.  Albendazole (Valbazen®)

A 2 g dose of COWP was used, but only 1 g is normally recommended for lambs. Albendazole (Valbazen®) was given at double the labeled dose at 15 mg/kg of body weight (3 ml/50 lbs.). There were between 10 and 23 lambs per treatment. The flock was determined to have resistance to benzimidazoles (same class of dewormer as albendazole) by the Drenchrite® test. The population of worms was mixed (H. contortus, Trichostrongylus spp., Cooperia spp., Oesophagostomum spp.).

There was an increase in fecal egg counts in the untreated lambs and a reduction in all other groups. The greatest reduction occurred in lambs treated with both COWP and albendazole (99.1%). The reduction with COWP alone was 12% and 58%, respectively, using Copasure® and Ultracruz™.  While numerically different, there was no statisical difference between the different forms of COWP. Albendazole alone reduced fecal egg counts by 20 percent.  Similarly, albendazole alone was not statistically different from COWP alone.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

2017 Maryland Shearing School

The 2017 Maryland Shearing School will be held Saturday and Sunday, April 14-15 at Ridgely Thompson's farm in Westminster, Maryland.

The shearing school is open to anyone who wants to learn to shear sheep. The minimum age is 16. The $100 fee includes instruction, ASI sheep shearing manual, DVD, and wall chart. The registration deadline is April 1. Registration should be mailed to Aaron Geiman, 429 Hook Road, Westminster, MD  21157. Checks should be made payable to the Maryland Sheep Breeders Association.

The New Zealand method of sheep shearing will be taught. Instructors will be Aaron Geiman and Emily Chamelin-Hickman.

Download information and registration form.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Lambing Record Workbooks

Mississippi State University has created Excel spreadsheets for keeping lambing records. There is a general spreadsheet for all sheep and one specifically for hair sheep. There is a different spreadsheet for hair sheep because they have different adjustment factors. In order to properly compare lambs, weaning weights need to be adjusted for sex, type of birth and rearing, and age of dam.

Some other breeds also have different adjustment factors that have been gleaned from National Sheep Improvement Program data. Goats also have different adjustment factors. Without records (and adjustment factors), you may be selecting against reproductive efficiency, if you select the biggest ewe and ram lambs.

The worksheets are Excel spreadsheets, so you'll need Excel to properly run them. Instructions are included in the Excel files.

Download lamb records worksheet
Download hair sheep worksheet

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Best Management Practices to Increase Lamb Crop

The American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) has published a set of 12 Best Management Practices fact sheets. The fact sheet series is aimed at helping producers increase their lamb crop. They are written and reviewed by Sheep Specialists throughout the United States.

The fact sheets have been professionally edited and are now available for downloading from the United States Lamb Resource Center.

  1. Accelerated Lambing Cycles
  2. Breeding Ewe Lambs at 7-9 Months
  3. Cull Underperforming Ewes
  4. Disease Prevention and Treatment
  5. Manage for Seasonal Changes in Reproduction
  6. Match Reproduction to Management
  7. Optimal Nutrition
  8. Reduce Lamb Loss
  9. Select for Prolific Genetics
  10. Test for Pregnancy Status
  11. Testing Rams for Breeding Soundness
  12. Use Crossbreeding
Because production methods vary across the U.S. and among producers within the same production system, not all of these “best practices” are applicable to a particular sheep operation. However, most sheep producers should be able to identify at least three of the 12 Lamb Crop Best Practices that will help them gain efficiency and improve profitability. Most of the practices are equally applicable to goats.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Goat Kidding Record Keeping Software

Oklahoma State University has developed a goat record keeping program that helps producers keep track of goat kid births, weaning weights and adjusted weaning weights. These are the type of records that goat producers need to be maintaining in order to properly select those breeding does that are highly productive and profitable.

It is an Excel spreadsheet, so you'll need Excel to run it properly. Instructions on how to use the spreadsheet are included in the file. You can watch a recording of a webinar explaining on how to use this spreadsheet by clicking here.

Download Goat Record Keeping Software

Friday, January 6, 2017

Combination Dewormers: The Time is Now

As the effectiveness of the dewormer decreases, it provides less and less benefit, and once it falls to <50%, it is no longer useful as a sole treatment. Given this situation, what is the best approach for using dewormers? Contrary to popular belief, rotating between dewormers will not prevent resistance from worsening, and is no longer recommended.  Rather, dewormers should be used together at the same time in combination.

Research done in New Zealand has convincingly shown that the best approach is to use several different dewormers all at one time as a combination treatment.

Read full article by Dr. Ray Kaplan

Thursday, November 3, 2016

No Advantage to Hydroponic Fodder

Barley sprouts
Hydroponic fodder is being promoted as a means to reduce feed costs and improve productivity.  Alan Sulser, an Agricultural Extension Agent with Utah State University, conducted an experiment to evaluate the economic potential of hydroponic fodder and its effect(s) on the performance of sheep. Over a two year period, Sulser fed hydroponic fodder to replacement ewes and rams.

 After a 2-week adaptation period, sheep were randomly allocated to two treatment groups. The control group was fed alfalfa hay and mixed grain (corn + barley). The treatment group was fed the same feed ingredients (in different amounts), along with hydroponic fodder. Sulser sprouted his own grains from barley (6 day growth period). The rations were balanced for energy (TDN) on a dry matter basis using Montana State University's Sheep Ration Balancer. The sheep were fed their respective diets for 100 days. They were fed twice daily and weighed every 10 days.

Cost per day
Cost per gain

Averaged over both years and sexes, body weight gain was not significantly between groups. Control sheep gained an average of 0.64 lbs. per day, while the fodder-fed sheep averaged 0.59 lbs. per day. Compared to the control group, the fodder-fed animals consumed more dry matter on a daily basis. Feed cost per day was higher for the fodder-fed animals:  $0.96 vs. $0.54 per day.  If all costs are included, feed cost per day for the fodder-fed animals increases to $1.08, and cost per pound of gain increases to $1.87.  Other costs include labor, water, electricity, and equipment ($10,000 for a commercial fodder system prorated over 10 years).

The experiments showed no advantage to feeding hydroponic fodder in replacement of hay and grain to replacement sheep. The experiments were not scientific.

 Source:  Journal of the NACAA, December 2015

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Attention Northeast Sheep & Goat Producers

  • Do you want to improve your parasite control?
  • Do you want to know which of your animals are most parasite resistant?
  •  Do you want to learn how to select for traits like parasite resistance in your breeding program?
  • Do you live in the Northeast?

Via a Northeast SARE grant, the University of Rhode Island (and its partners) are offering free fecal egg count (FEC) analysis to assist with selective breeding for resistance to gastrointestinal nematodes (GIN). Producers can receive assistance in identifying the most parasite resistant sheep and goats in their flocks/herds by using fecal egg count analysis, combined with FAMACHA© scores.  They can receive guidance on using results in individualized selective breeding

Criteria for participation.  Small Ruminant producers who . . .
  • Live in one of the northeastern states:  New England, New Jersey, New York Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia
  • Have a history of problems with gastrointestinal nematode worms
  • Are FAMACHA© certified (online training is available)
  • Are willing to share general herd/flock information/history
  • Have the ability to obtain and ship fecal samples from your animals twice, 3-4 weeks apart
  • Have not dewormed the animals to be tested 4 weeks prior to fecal egg analysis
Producers interested in participating in this program please contact either Holly Burdett ( or Dr. Katherine Petersson ( to obtain fecal sampling and shipping instructions.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Fall 2016 issue of Wild & Woolly

The Fall 2016 issue of Wild & Woolly is now available. Wild & Woolly is a quarterly newsletter for sheep and goat producers and anyone else interested in small ruminants. It is published by University of Maryland Extension.

The newsletter is available as an HTML or PDF file. It is also published on ISSUU. Mailed copies of the newsletter are available for a cost recovery fee of $10 per year, payable to the University of Maryland.

Interested persons can subscribed to the newsletter listserv to receive an email message when a new issue of the newsletter has been published.  To subscribe, send an email to In the body of the newsletter, write:  subscribe sheepandgoatnews.


Previous issues of the newsletter are available at

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Lambulator Cut-Yield Calculator

The LAMBULATOR is a Cut-Yield Calculator for the Lamb Direct Marketer. It has been designed with the small direct marketer in mind. It is easy to understand and use, even if you have no experience with Microsoft Excel. Just plug in your cut weights and prices and let it do the calculating for you.

In an instant, it will calculate carcass yield percentages, individual and average net profit per lamb, and your overall gross and net profit. It will even allow you to try different pricing scenarios should your production or marketing costs increase. The Lambulator was developed by Dave Scott, a livestock specialist with NCAT-ATTRA. It is a free download.