Thursday, December 18, 2014

Zactran® Eliminates Footrot

Gamithromycin (Zactran®) is macrolide antibiotic licensed for cattle in the treatment and control of bovine respiratory disease. It is not approved for sheep (or goats); however, it may be prescribed by a veterinary for extra-label use.

Foot rot is caused by the anaerobic bacterium Dichelobacter nodosus. D. nodosus does not survive for long in the environment, so the main reservoir of infection is in the animals. In theory, foot rot can be eliminated from a flock, through a combination of vaccination and/or antibacterial treatment (parenteral or topical) and/or culling of infected animals, coupled with good biosecurity.

In a German flock with a high prevalence of foot rot, 184 sheep were given the standard dose of Zactran® (6 mg/kg). The injection was given subcutaneously in the axilla. On day 23, 19 sheep were re-treated with Zactran®. On day 45, no lame sheep or positive lesion scores were observed.

In a Danish study, 48 flocks comprising around 9000 sheep were given the standard dose of Zactran®, subcutaneously on the side of the neck. Of the 48 participating flocks, 44 remained free of foot rot and D. nodosus more than one year later

The results from both studies showed that whole-flock, systemic antibiotic treatment can eliminate foot rot and D.  nodosus. In the Danish study, a single treatment with gamithromycin was sufficient. In the German flock, two treatments at an interval of 22 days were required to eliminate foot rot in some sheep.

Source:  Short Communication, Veterinary Record, January 2014

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

2015 Virginia Shepherds' Symposium

The annual Virginia Shepherds' Symposium will be held Friday and Saturday, January 9-10, 2015 at the Augusta County Government Center in Verona, Virginia.

The Symposium is open to all sheep producers from the Mid-Atlantic Region. It provides in-service training opportunities for extension personnel, educators and other professionals in sheep and related agribusiness industries. Youth are an important segment of the sheep industry and are invited to attend. The Symposium in accompanied by an industry trade show.

The pre-registration deadline is January 5. Full registration is $25 and includes lunch, breaks, and materials. Full registration for youth is $10. Registration fees increase after the January 5 deadline.

Download program brochure and registration form

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

2015 Winter Webinars: Pasture Management

Each year, the University of Maryland Small Ruminant Extension Program conducts a winter webinar series (short course). The theme of the 2015 webinar series is Pasture Management. The instructors will be Jeff Semler and Susan Schoenian.

The webinars will be held for five consecutive Wednesday evenings in February and March. All the webinars will begin at 7 p.m. EST and last for approximately one hour. An additional 30 minutes will be allotted for questions. Interaction will be via a chat box.

February 4
7 p.m.
Planning a pasture system
February 11
7 p.m.
Pasture plants, including alternative forages
February 18
7 p.m.
Pasture and grazing management
February 25
7 p.m.
Pasture nutrition
March 4
7 p.m.
Pasture health problems

The webinars will be conducted via Adobe Connect. Anyone with a connection to the Internet may participate in one or more of the webinars. A high speed internet connection is recommended. While pre-registration is not required, participation is limited to the first 100 people who log onto

All webinar participants are asked to subscribe to the University of Maryland webinar listserv. The webinar listserv is used to communicate with webinar participants and notify users of other webinars. To subscribe, send an e-mail message to In the body of the message, type subscribe sheepgoatwebinars.

2015 Winter Webinars: Pasture Management for Small Ruminant Producers

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

A Wise Man's Alfalfa

by Dr. Tom Terrill
Fort Valley State University

Because of its ability to tolerate infertile, acidic soils and grow well on sloping land with minimal lime and fertilizer inputs, the perennial warm-season legume sericea lespedeza (SL; Lespedeza cuneata) has earned the nickname "Poor man’s alfalfa." With recent research on the potential health and environmental benefits of including SL in the diet of ruminant animals, it may be time for a new nickname:  "wise man's alfalfa."

Dr. Tom Terrill
Like other forages that contain condensed tannins (CT), a compound that binds to protein when the plant is chewed and digested, SL is non-bloating. It also lowers the production of methane from the animal’s rumen, reducing the contribution of this powerful greenhouse gas to global warming.

However, for farmers trying to keep their livestock healthy during a period when anthelmintic drugs are rapidly losing their effectiveness, the excellent anti-parasitic properties of SL in fresh (grazed) or dried (hay, leaf meal, pellets) forms in the diet of sheep, goats, and other ruminants may be most important.

Read full article at

Be sure to read other Timely Topics from the American Consortium For Small Ruminant Parasite Control (ACSRPC). The consortium was formed in response to the critical state of the small ruminant industry associated with the emergence of anthelmintic resistant worms. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

2015 Maryland Buck Test

Several changes will be implemented for the 2015 Western Maryland Pasture-Based Meat Goat Performance Test. The purpose of the changes is to get better growth rates (ADG) and produce a bigger (heavier) buck at the end of the test, while still being able to effectively evaluate the bucks for parasite resistance and resilience.

The test will start and end later. Bucks should be delivered to the test site on Friday, June 26. The goats will have a 13-day adjustment period. Starting weights will be recorded on July 9 and 10. The later starting date will allow the goats to graze the warm season annual grasses and legumes upon arrival. The test will last for 84 days. Midway through the test, the goats will be switched to the cool season grass paddocks. Final data will be collected on October 1.

The test bucks will be supplemented with soybean hulls throughout the test. Supplementation will begin during the adjustment period and will be gradually increased until it reaches 0.75 lbs. per day or approximately 1.5 percent of  body weight. Data from last year's test showed that the goats' pasture diet was deficient in energy.

You can use the test data to select a parasite-resistant buck.

The 10 top-performing bucks will be recognized.  As in previous years, the primary performance criteria will be growth (ADG), parasite resistance (fecal egg counts), and parasite resilience (FAMACHA© scores and anthelmintic treatments).  Other criteria will include WDA, ultrasound data, scrotal circumference, teat structure, and hoof structure.

The nomination period for the 2015 test will be April 15 through June 1. Eligible bucks must be born between January 1 and March 15, 2015, and weigh a minimum of 40 lbs. Any breed or breed cross is eligible, with our without registration eligibility. A farm may consign up to five goats to the test.  A maximum of 80 goats will be accepted for the 2015 test.

The total fee for testing a buck will be $120, which includes a $20/head nomination fee. Discounted fees will be offered to Maryland residents and consignors who consign five half-sibs (bucks with same sire) or whose herds are enrolled in the National Sheep Improvement Program (NSIP), a quantitative genetic evaluation program that calculates EBVs (estimated breeding values) for and meat goats (and sheep)..

2015 will be the 10th year of the Western Maryland Pasture-Based Meat Goat Performance Test, which is conducted at the University of Maryland's Western Maryland Research & Education Center in Keedysville. Please direct any questions about the 2015 test to Susan Schoenian at (301) 432-2767 x343 or

Read full entry from Meat Goat Test Blog

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

2015 Maryland Small Ruminant Expo

Save the date!

The first Maryland Small Ruminant Expo will be held Saturday, February 28, 2015, at the Frederick County 4-H Camp & Activities Center in Frederick, Maryland.  It will be an all-day educational program with different themed tracks, including a track for youth. The program will cover all aspects of sheep and goat production. Lunch will be a taco bar, featuring lamb and goat meat.

Monday, November 3, 2014

"Silver Bullet" of Worm Control

by Paul Casey
Heifer Project International

I manage a 60 ewe sheep flock at Heifer Project International’s Ranch in Perryville, Arkansas. About 10 years ago, we started looking at alternative methods of controlling gastrointestinal parasites in sheep. We tried garlic juice, papaya seeds, pumpkin seeds, an herbal dewormer, grazing chicory, grazing sun hemp, and intensive rotational grazing. In the end, rotational grazing was the only practice we kept.

Sheep flock at Heifer Project International
We implemented stringent culling and rotational grazing at the same time and within a few years parasite problems in the ewes were nearly non-existent. While I know that our strict ewe culling and ewe lamb selection helped reduce our worm problems, I believe the grazing is what made it successful.

By controlling what the sheep eat, when they eat it, and how long they are on a given section of pasture, the manager controls forage intake, forage quality, plant regrowth, and relative ingestion of parasite larvae. Grazing management is the most powerful tool we have for maintaining animal health and performance. 

Read full article at is the web site of the American Consortium for Small Ruminant Parasite Control (ACSRPC), a group of scientists, veterinarians, and extension specialists that was formed due to the widespread emergence of anthelmintic resistant worms in small ruminants.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Dock Length Has No Effect on Rectal Prolapse

At Texas Tech, researchers investigated the effects of sex, breed, docked tail length, and the expression of the callipyge phenotype on the incidence of rectal prolapse in lambs.

To test whether these factors influence rectal prolapse in a controlled feedlot environment, lambs (n = 382) representing both sexes and four breed types were assigned randomly to one of three docking treatments. In short-docked lambs, the tail was removed as close to the body as possible. In medium-docked lambs, the tail was removed midway between the attachment of the tail to the body and the caudal folds to the tail. Long-docked lambs had their tails removed at the attachment of the caudal folds to the tail.

Incorporating the callipyge phenotype into the study design assessed the effect of enhanced muscle development on rectal prolapse. The overall incidence of rectal prolapse in the study was 2.1 percent. Ewe lambs were no more likely to experience prolapses than male lambs. Seven of the eight (87 percent) lambs that prolapsed were hair sheep. No lambs expressing the callipyge phenotype prolapsed. There was no difference in rectal prolapse occurrence among the three docking treatments.

In the study, sex, tail dock length, and muscling did not appear to contribute to rectal prolapse in lambs. However, there may be an over-looked genetic component that influences the occurrence of prolapses in response to the practice of docking.

Source: Sheep & Goat Research Journal, March 2014

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Penn State Offers Home Study Courses

Penn State Extension offers several home study courses:  sheep, meat goats, beef, and livestock grazing. All are six week courses.

The next sheep, meat goat, and beef courses are scheduled to begin on February 4, 2015. The registration deadline is January 26, 2015. Registration is now open. Unfortunately, the livestock grazing course has already begun (October 15).

There are six lessons in each course.  Lessons are mailed weekly for six weeks. The first lesson will be mailed or emailed on February 6. Postal participants will receive a CD of materials. Participants read lesson materials and complete a worksheet. The worksheet is returned to the instructor for comments and suggestions for ways to improve the participant's own operation.

The cost of each course is $50 via internet/e-mail and $85 via the postal service.

Sheep Home Study Course
Meat Goat Home Study Course

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Effects of Preslaughter Diet Management

Researchers at Fort Valley State University (in Georgia) used 16 crossbred goats and wether sheep to investigate the effect of preslaughter diet management on physiological responses and microbial loads on skin and carcass.

Experimental animals were fed either a hay or concentrate diet for 4 days and then deprived of feed for either 12 or 24 hours prior to slaughter. Blood samples were collected to measure physiological responses. pH was measured in the Longisimuss dorsi muscle. Skin and carcass swabs were obtained to access microbial loads.

Skin swab samples collected from the sheep showed higher bacterial counts than goats. Behavior observations may have accounted for the difference, as sheep tended to spend more time lying down. Sheep fleece may also be responsible for picking up more fecal material in the holding pen. However, diet and feed deprivation did not influence skin contamination. Diet, species, and feed-deprivation also had no effect on E. coli and total coliform counts in carcass swabs.

Access full article from J. of Animal Science and Biotechnology

Other research regarding the effect of diet on bacterial loads has been contradictory. A 1998 Cornell University study demonstrated that cattle fed grain had much higher coliform and E. coli counts than cattle fed forage diets. The reverse was observed in a 1997 study at the University of Idaho, as artificially-innoculated sheep fed grass hay shed more E. coli and for a longer period of time than sheep fed a concentrate diet.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Fall 2014 Wild & Woolly

The Fall 2014 issue of Wild & Woolly has been published to the web at

A printer-friendly (PDF) version of the newsletter can be downloaded from

The newsletter is also now available on ISSUU, a digital publishing platform at

Dorper sheep are featured in this issue of the newsletter.
Subscribe to the newsletter listserv to receive an e-mail message when a new issue of the newsletter had been posted to the web. To subscribe, send an e-mail message to In the body of the message, write subscribe sheepandgoatnews.

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.

Access past issues of newsletter

Monday, October 13, 2014

Maryland's Beginning Farmer Program

University of Maryland Extension is proud to provide the Beginning Farmer Success program across the state. The Beginning Farmer Success program is targeted towards those who have been involved in agriculture for ten years or less. Special focus is paid to helping potential and new farmers establish business plans, scaling up their operations, and making smart production decisions for both crops and livestock.

Hannah Shear
These important topics are taught through workshops, conferences, and hands-on mentorships supported by the University of Maryland Extension, the Southern Maryland Agriculture Development Commission (SMADC), University of Maryland Eastern Shores (UMES), and Future Harvest.

In August, the Beginning Farmer Success Team welcomed Hannah Shear to the group to serve as program coordinator. Hannah was born and raised in Kentucky on a family farm that focused primarily on beef cattle and burley tobacco.Throughout her childhood she was surrounded by the rolling bluegrass pastures of central-eastern Kentucky. This access to plentiful pasture and a love for all things livestock led to Hannah’s desire to raise sheep.

If you have been farming for ten years or less and are interested in being a part of the Beginning Farmer Success Program you should sign-up and check out their website:

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Online Sheep Management Education

Continuing with providing various delivery methods of educational information, the Pipestone Lamb and Wool Program launched online courses so sheep enthusiasts can keep current in the comfort of their own home or office.

The most popular course is the Introduction to Sheep Management course (LWMP 1001).  This course is the online version of the successful home study course that provides an overview of annual sheep management. 

Other online course offerings include:
•    Equipment and Facilities (LWMP 1202)
•    Introduction to Sheep Health (LWMP 1300)
•    Ewe Ration Formulation (LWMP 1502)
•    Wool Characteristics and Properties (LWMP 1701)

Online sheep management courses are an excellent opportunity for youth and adults to learn more about sheep production within their own home or community.  These courses are offered each fall.  Registration continues until the middle of October. 

The Pipestone Lamb and Wool Program is a sheep management education/consulting program offered by Minnesota West Community and Technical College located at Pipestone, Minnesota.

For more information visit the Pipestone Lamb and Wool Program web page at or contact one of the Lamb and Wool instructors: Philip Berg at or  (507) 825-6799; or Mike Caskey at or (507) 825-6808.

To register for one of the on-line courses contact Sue Lovell at (507) 847-7929 or