Sunday, June 26, 2016

Looking For the Best Bucks

Ninety-seven (97) mostly Kiko bucks began the 2016 Western Maryland Pasture-Based Meat Goat Performance Test on June 23-24.  There were originally 142 goats nominated for the test, but nominations had to be reduced.

The goats were consigned by 34 goat breeders from 17 states.  Kentucky is the state with the most goats and consigners. Two Maryland breeders consigned 8 goats to the test.

Some of the bucks in the test

While on test, the goats will consume a pasture-based diet and be evaluated for growth, parasite resistance, parasite resilience, and carcass muscling. After a 13-day adjustment period, the test will span 84 days. Starting weights will be determined July 7-8. The goats will be handled bi-weekly for data collection.

A Performance & Carcass Contest is being held in conjunction with this year's test. Fifteen goats were entered into the contest. The contest goats will consume a hay-grain diet, with a goal of moderate gain. At the end of the feeding period, they will be harvested to collected carcass data.

To follow the progress of this year's test and contest, visit the blog at

It is the 11th year of the test and the 1st year of the contest. Both are sponsored by the University of Maryland Extension Small Ruminant Program and held at the University of Maryland's Western Maryland Research & Education Center in Keedysville.

Monday, May 9, 2016

72 Youth Compete in '16 Skillathon

Seventy-two (72) youth from five states competed in the Junior Sheep & Goat Skillathon, held May 8 at the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival.

Three young ladies from Maryland took home top honors. Taryn Schwartz from Howard County was the top junior. The top intermediate was Lizzy Miller from Montgomery County. The top senior was also from Montgomery County:  Lauren Dallas.

2016 Skillathon winners
Lauren Dallas (L), Taryn Schwartz (C) and Lizzy Miller (R)

Mary Rose from Virginia was the second place junior. Edden Molder, also from Virginia, placed third. Jordan Kelly from Virginia was the second place intermediate. Anna Clemmer from Howard County placed third. In the senior division, Rebecca Herriotts placed second. Jennifer Brigante placed third. Both are from Howard County.

The first place junior team was from Virginia. Team members included Mary Rose, Eddyn Molden, Kolten Vincent, and Kelly Jackson.  The second place team was the Queen Anne's County team composed of Aubrey Clark and Madison and Hannah Branham.

The first place intermediate team was from Virginia. Team members included Jordan Kelly, Hayley Seabright, Berkeley Frank, and Quinna Molden. Frederick County had the second place intermediate team. Team members included Kallam Latham, Kariana and Kiandra Strickhouser, and Jessica Martin. The third place intermediate team was from the Lower Shore (Maryland). Team members included Cole Olsen, Jordan Webster, and Cassie Knight.

Feedstuff ID

The top senior team was from Montgomery County. Team members included Trevor Magaha, Sara Lechlider, and Ashley Hobbs. The second place senior team was from Virginia. Team members included Cyle Dehaven, Bobby Slater, Courtney Walls, and Mikayla St. Clair. The third place senior team was from Anne Arundel County. Team members included Jacqueline Bowen, Kelsey Winters, Josiah Tice, and Monica Ogilvie.

The Maryland Sheep Breeders Association provided ribbons and premiums for the top ten individuals in each age division and t-shirts for the members of the top three teams in each age division.

Special thanks to everyone who helped with this year's skillathon.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016


Learn how to Cover, Push, Pull, Pop! That is the FAMACHA© scoring technique that determines the degree of Barber Pole Worm (Haemonchus contortus) infection in sheep, goats and camelids. This how to video emphasizes FAMACHA© scoring Out West with large flocks of small ruminants.

Discover how it is easy and financially rewarding to ascertain the degree of infection in your flock- FAMACHA© scoring saves you money in deworming only the lambs and ewes that are actually infected (often 80 percent of the infection is concentrated in 20 percent of the flock). It also allows you to set up a refugia that will greatly slow the resistance of Haemonchus to your limited array of dewormers.

Find out how to get FAMACHA© training and your FAMACHA© Score Card, including the brand new Online FAMACHA© Certification offered by the University of Rhode Island. If you have lush pastures, you will have Haemonchus. This video is for you.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

APPS for Sheep and Goat Producers

"App" is short for "application" - which is another name for a computer program. Normally, when people talk about apps they are almost always referring to programs that run on mobile devices, such as smartphones or tablet computers. 

ASI Market News
ASI Market News is produced by the American Sheep Industry Association
to help sheep producers stay informed on current market conditions. This app displays several national and auction barn reports for locations across the United States. The app also contains a break even calculator. The report data is compiled by the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service.

Goat & Sheep Weight Calculator
Goat & Sheep Weight Calculator allows you to calculate the approximate weight of your goats and sheep by using a cloth measuring tape to determine the girth of the animal’s heart and the length of the animal’s body. Simply enter in your measurements to calculate the weight of your goats and sheep in pounds.

Pearson Square
Pearson Square provides an easy way to calculate mixtures of two ingredients. It is very useful in the fertilizer, animal feed, and sausage industries. Animal Science and Veterinary students should also find it very useful. 

To see an A-Z list of APPS for sheep and goat producers, go to!apps/coh8

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Spring 2016 Issue of Wild & Woolly

The Spring 2016 issue of Wild & Woolly has been published to the web. Wild & Woolly is a quarterly newsletter for sheep and goat producers. It is published by University of Maryland Extension.

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

To subscribe to the newsletter listserv, send an email message to In the body of the message, write subscribe sheepandgoatnews.


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Working Dog Liability Insurance

The Working Dog Liability Insurance (WDLI) was unveiled at the American Sheep Industry Convention in January. The insurance is for livestock producers who use guardian and herding dogs to protect their livestock from predators and other risks, and to assist in the management of the flock or herd.

Livestock guardian dog
Frequently, producers have no liability protection from incidents related to guardian or herding dogs.  Most farm and ranch insurance policies exclude working dogs or dogs which "may show aggressive tendencies." WDLI is managed and serviced by Food and Fiber Risk Managers. They understand the business and know that livestock production is your livelihood. They have your best interest at heart.

Annual premium rates for the first guardian or herding dog can be a low as $100 depending on each producer's situation. Additional dogs can be as low as $25 each.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, and the National Canine Research Council, more than $400,000,000 is paid annually in all dog liability claims in the US. Most working dogs owned and used by sheep and livestock producers are excluded from the typical farm and ranch, or home owner’s insurance policies. Having WDLI will protect you from liability.

To learn more, go to

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

2016 Maryland Wool Pool

 The Maryland Wool Pool will be held at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium on June 22 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.  All producers are welcome to attend and bring wool.  We always need volunteers for this event so any students seeking volunteer hours or producers looking to learn a little more about their wool clip are welcome to come and help out.

Wool presses are available for use. Bringing your wool in baled (bales are 250 pounds) and will get you a $0.05 cent price increase for your wool. Inquiries on the wool presses are welcome.  Wool from previous years can be brought to the pool and sold. Just be sure it has been stored properly and doesn't have any vermin living in it.  Wool for the pool needs to be dry.  Make make sure you shear your sheep dry and store your wool clear of the elements.

Wool can be brought in plastic trash bags and you can bring multiple fleeces in one bag. You do not need to be a member of the Maryland Sheep Breeders Association to bring wool to the pool. All producers are welcome and any amount of wool is accepted. Please do not bring black wool to the pool. We still do not buy black wool.

Any questions regarding the wool pool can be directed to Emily Chamelin-Hickman (wool pool director) at or (443) 244-2702.  

Wool Classing School
This year, we will also be hosting an ASI Level 1 Wool Classing School. This will be held in conjunction with the Maryland Wool Pool. The dates are June 21-23.  Dr. Ron Pope will be instructing. All interested parties should contact Linda Shane at or (301) 746-8083 to get more information and to register.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Shepherd's Workshops at MSWF

The Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival has an excellent line-up of Shepherd's Workshops this year. Each workshop costs $20 to attend. Pre-registration is required. To register, go to

  • Keeping Parasites at Bay with Dr. Andrea Loar
    Thursday, May 5, 8:30-10:00 am.
  • Best Breeding Practices with Dr. Andrea Loar
    Thursday, May 5, 10:30 a.m. to 12 noon
  • Differences among sheep breeds for growth, carcass, and meat quality traits with Dr. Kreg Leymaster
    Thursday, May 5, 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.
  • New Approaches to Eradicate Ovine Progressive Pneumonia with Dr. Kreg Leymaster
    Friday, May 6, 8:30 to 10:00 a.m.
  • Get greater genetic improvement with cooperative breeding schemes with Dr. Kreg Lemaster
    Friday, May 6, 10:30 a.m. to 12 noon
  • What are the production limits for easy-care sheep? with Dr. Kreg Leymaster
    Friday, May 6, 1:30 to 3 p.m.

All the workshops will be held in the show ring.

About the speakers
Dr. Andrea Loar is a 2014 graduate of Cornell University. She is owner of Windy’s Legacy Livestock Reproduction Services, LLC, a practice specializing in food animal and small ruminant reproduction and neonatal care. She also works for the Mountain View Animal Emergency Clinic in Hagerstown, Maryland. She grew up raising market lambs in Howard County.

Dr. Kreg Leymaster joined the USDA, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (in Clay Center, Nebraska) in 1978 and has led sheep and swine genetic research. Dr. Leymaster’s sheep research has emphasized evaluation of dam and sire breeds in terminal crossbreeding systems, estimation of genetic parameters, investigation of mutations affecting muscle development, and genetic resistance to disease.

Friday, April 1, 2016

2016 Junior Sheep & Goat Skillathon

The 2016 Junior Sheep & Goat Skillathon will be held Sunday, May 8, at the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival. The Festival is always held the first full weekend in May at the Howard County Fairgrounds in West Friendship, Maryland.  There is no admission fee and parking is free.

Feed ID
Contest registration begins at 8 a.m. The contest begins at 9 a.m. Lunch will be provided (a small donation is requested). Awards will be presented by 2 p.m. 

The skillathon is open to individual and teams (3-4) of youth, ages 8-18, from any state. Youth compete according to the 4-H age (as of January 1):  Junior, 8-10; Intermediate, 11-13; and Senior, 14-18. The Maryland Sheep Breeders Association provides premium and ribbons to the top 10 individuals in each age category and festival t-shirts to the members of the top 3 teams in each age division. Additional awards may be provided by the University of Maryland Small Ruminant Extension Program.

Animal science skillathons test youth's knowledge of breeds, equipment, meat, feed, wool, hay, and other aspects of animal husbandry. In the sheep and goat skillathon, all stations will pertain to sheep and goats:  meat, fiber, and dairy.

Pre-registration, especially of teams, is requested by May 1. Send names and ages to  Susan Schoenian at or (301) 432-4089 (fax). Volunteers are also needed to help with the contest. Let Susan know if you'd be willing to help out.!skillathon/c21eg

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Online FAMACHA© Certification

As part of a Northeast SARE grant, the University of Rhode Island will be offering online training for FAMACHA© certification.

Online FAMACHA© certification can be obtained through a 4-step process:
  1. View 2 hour video on Integrated Parasite Control and our 30 minute video, Why and How To Do FAMACHA© Scoring.  Complete an online post-video summary.
  2. Practice the Cover, Push, Pull, POP! technique.
  3. Record and email us a video of your FAMACHA© scoring technique.
  4. Follow-up by phone and/or email as needed.  Live video sessions can be utilized if needed.
Cover - Push - Pull - Pop
Once this certification process is complete, you will be able to purchase a FAMACHA© card.  Visit our website for detailed instructions including contacts for more information,

For those producers that are already FAMACHA© certified, our online videos serve as an excellent refresher on integrated parasite management as well as the FAMACHA© system including hands-on demonstration of the proper scoring technique.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Nominate Goats to Maryland Test

Nomination packets for the 2016 Western Maryland Pasture-Based Meat Goat Performance Test will be mailed in early April. Packets will be mailed to 2014 and 2015 consignors. Packets can be mailed to anyone else, upon request. To request a nomination packet, contact Pam Thomas at or (301) 432-2767 x315.

The test is open to goat breeders from any state. A producer may consign up to five male goats to the test. Goats may be of any breed or breed cross, with or without registration papers or eligibility. They must have been born between January 1 and March 15 of this year, and weigh between 40 and 70 lbs. upon delivery to the test site on June 24. After a 13-day adjustment period, the test will span 84 days, from July 7 to September 29.While on test, the goats will be evaluated for growth, parasite resistance, and parasite resilience. At the conclusion of the test, the top 10 bucks will be recognized.

This year's test will also include a performance and carcass contest. Anyone who consigns at least one goat is eligible to enter a goat in the carcass contest. Those who consign five goats to the test and have a goat in the carcass contest will receive a discount of $20 per test goat. There is no cost to enter the carcass contest. The age, weight, and health requirements for the contest goats is the same as the test goats.

Monday, March 21, 2016

2016 WV Small Ruminant Evaluation

West Virginia University conducts an annual performance test for rams and bucks. Due to changes in funding, the test has been moved from Wardensville to Morgantown.

Rams/bucks should be delivered to WVU Animal Science Farm on Saturday, May 14. Nomination forms need to be post-marked by April 29 and include a check for $20 per ram/buck. The estimated cost of testing is $100, due at the time the rams/bucks are delivered to the test site.

A maximum of 30 rams and 30 bucks will be accepted for the test. Rams/bucks of any meat breed will be accepted to the test. Rams/bucks will be sold August 20.

Pertinent documents can be downloaded from the West Virginia Small Ruminant Evaluation web site at

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Bigger Dogs for Bigger Predators

"It's not the size of the dog in the fight,
it's the size of the fight in the dog." - Mark Twain

Or maybe it's a little of both. With the help of 19 producers, 21 sheep bands and 65 livestock protection dogs of various breeds, the National Wildlife Research Center's Utah field station, several Wildlife Services state offices and Utah State University will soon begin the final field season of a multi-year, multi-state study. The goal of the study is to determine whether larger European dog breeds, such as Kangals, Karakachans and Cao de Gado Transmontanos, are more effective at protecting livestock from predation than dog breeds currently being used in the United States.

"Unfortunately, many of our current dog breeds are no match for our larger predators, such as wolves and grizzly bears, which are becoming more prevalent," notes NWRC's Utah field station leader Dr. Julie Young. "Finding suitable dog breeds for use as livestock protection dogs against wolves and bears not only helps us safeguard livestock and the livelihoods of ranchers, but also enhances and encourages coexistence between people and large predators."

USU graduate student Daniel Kinka is leading field efforts in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming that monitor the movements of radio-collared LPDs and sheep. He compares the data to information on local predator activities gathered by trail cameras. Because it is difficult to observe an actual LPD-predator encounter, Kinka also observes the dogs' behaviors when exposed to potential threats using a fairly elaborate decoy system.

Preliminary results show all of the dog breeds exhibit high fidelity to their sheep - meaning they do a good job of staying close to their flocks. The dogs also distinguish between wolf and deer decoys with dogs responding aggressively towards the wolf decoys.

Trail cameras and space-use data confirm that LPDs, sheep, wolves and grizzly bears share the same habitat during the grazing season, but more analysis is needed to determine how often overlap and interactions occur.

During the final field season and with more data, researchers hope to determine if certain dog breeds are better at deterring grizzlies versus wolves or if some are more effective in forested, open or fenced environments.

 Source:  ASI Weekly News, 3.4.16

Friday, February 26, 2016

Workshop: Increasing Sheep Productivity

West Virginia University will be hosting a workshop on Increasing Productivity through the use of Genetically Evaluated Breeding Stock.

The workshop will cover the following areas: 1)Approaches to selection of breeding animals; 2) Benefits of knowing the genetic value of animals using genetic evaluation in selection of animals; 3)  Traits and indices evaluated in flocks/animals enrolled in NSIP/Lambplan; and 4) The NSIP/Lamplan System.

Please let us know if you are interested and what time suits you best for the workshop by completing a survey at  For more information, you can contact Dr. Marlon Knights at or (304) 293-1946.