Thursday, November 12, 2015

Dairy Goat Ration Evaluator

The Maryland Dairy Goat Ration Evaluator allows you to evaluate rations for dairy goats. The Excel spreadsheet determines if a dairy goat's requirements for energy (TDN), protein (CP), calcium (Ca), and phosphorus (P) are being met based on the amount and nutritional composition of feeds being fed.

The spreadsheet utilizes the latest nutritional requirements for dairy goats from the National Research Council (NRC, 2007).  Rations for dry, pregnant, and lactating does can be evaluated. There are separate requirements for does being parlor-milked. Rations can also be evaluated for doe, wether, and buck kids and mature bucks. The current spreadsheet utilizes pounds for measurements. A spreadsheet using metric measurements is in the works.

Download spreadsheets from Maryland Small Ruminant Page

Thursday, November 5, 2015

2016 Winter Webinar Series

The University of Maryland Extension Small Ruminant Program will be hosting a webinar series (for small ruminant producers) on consecutive Thursday evenings from February 4 through March 10, 2016. The title of the webinar series (short course) is Special Topics. It will cover a variety of topics and be presented by speakers from several states and institutions.

All webinars will begin at 7 p.m. EST and last for approximately one hour, followed by a question and answer period. Interaction will be via a chat box. Presentations will be recorded and made available for later viewing via Adobe Connect or YouTube. PowerPoint presentations will be uploaded to SlideShare.

Date Topic Speaker Affiliation
Feb 4 Toxic plants Jeff Semler University of Maryland
Feb 11 EBVs for beginners Susan Schoenian University of Maryland
Feb 18 Vitamin and mineral nutrition Dr. Dan Morrical Iowa State University
Feb 25 Sericea lespedeza Dr. Tom Terrill Fort Valley State University
Mar 3 The Big Five Dr. Gareth Bath University of Pretoria (SA)
Mar 10 Natural dewormers Dr. Dahlia O'Brien Virginia State University

Anyone with an internet connection (high speed access recommended) may participate in the live webinars.  Pre-registration is not required. There is no cost involved. Log-in instructions will be provided via a listserv. To subscribe to the webinar listserv, send an email message to In the body of the message, write:  subscribe sheepgoatwebinars
Participation is limited to the first 100 people who log-on.

The highlight of the 2016 series will be a presentation by Dr. Gareth Bath from the University of Pretoria in South Africa. Dr. Bath was one of the scientists who developed the FAMACHA© system and Five Point Check©. His presentation will be entitled, The Big Five. He will discuss the five important aspects of internal parasite control:  animals, parasites, pasture, monitoring, and treatment. Because of the time difference involved, Dr. Bath's presentation will not be at 7 p.m. EST.

The University of Maryland Extension Small Ruminant Program has been doing webinar short courses since 2011. The webinars have covered various aspects of sheep and goat production:  nutrition, management, breeding, health, and pasture. Links to these webinars are available at!webinars/cu81.

Download program flyer

Monday, November 2, 2015

Working with a Veterinarian

by Linda Coffey

Sheep and goat producers frequently comment that it is difficult to find a veterinarian who is willing and able to help with health care for their animals. Producers also remark that profits are slim and paying for a veterinarian is just too expensive.

Photo:  Grace Rathert
It is true that many health-care tasks can and should be done by the producer. However, veterinarians have specialized knowledge and are trained to investigate, diagnose, and treat illness.  Also, many medications are not legal to use UNLESS you have a valid relationship with a veterinarian.

A veterinarian can teach producers how to perform health care procedures properly.  And a veterinarian who will listen and is willing to learn and study further will soon develop strong competency with small ruminants and can actually save you money and help you provide better care for your animals.

Finding a veterinarian who will support you as a herd-health partner will pay dividends.

Source:  Timely Topic from web site of American Consortium for Small Ruminant Parasite Control.

Read full article at!workwithvet/c1uis.

Download tip sheet from NCAT-ATTRA

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Fall 2015 Wild & Woolly

The Fall 2015 issue of Wild & Woolly is now available on the web. It is available in several formats:  HTML and PDF. It is also published on ISSUU.  Previous issues of the newsletter may be downloaded from!newsletter/cno0.

Valais Blacknose sheep
Image credit: Whitehall (UK)
Wild & Woolly is a newsletter for sheep and goat producers and anyone else interested in small ruminant production. It is published quarterly by the University of Maryland's Western Maryland Research & Education Center.

You can subscribe to the newsletter listserv, so you'll get an email message whenever a new issue has been posted to the web. To subscribe, send an e-mail to In the body of the message, write subscribe sheepandgoat news. To unsubscribe, send an e-mail to the same address, but write unsubscribe instead of subscribe.


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Register Now for Lambing & Kidding School

Registration is now open for the 2015 Lambing & Kidding School to be held Saturday, December 5 at North Harford High School in Pylesville, Maryland.

The day-long program will feature separate educational tracks for adults and youth (ages 8-18). The keynote speaker for the adult program will be Dr. Richard Ehrhardt. The youth program will be mostly hands-on.

Dr. Richard Ehrhardt
Dr. Ehrhardt is the Small Ruminant Specialist at Michigan State University. In addition to working with both large and small-scale producers, Dr. Ehrhardt is involved in the training of veterinary students. Other speakers will include Susan Schoenian, Karen Holloway, Sara Meager BhaduriHauck, Dwayne Murphy, Chris Anderson, Dr. Angela Black, Dr. Mara Mullinix, and Dan Severson.

The pre-registration deadline for the school is November 20. The registration fee is $40 per adult and $30 per youth (age 8-18).  The registration fee will include morning refreshments, lunch, door prizes, and resource materials (on a flash drive). There is an additional charge of $10 to receive resource materials in a notebook (binder). Youth will be charged an additional $20 if they want to make a feeder and halter in the first session. The $20 will cover some of the material cost.

You can register online line via EventBrite at You can pay by credit card, but there is a small fee to do so. Alternatively, you can mail your registration information and payment to Lambing & Kidding School, Western Maryland Research & Education Center, 18330 Keedysville Road, Keedysville, Maryland 21756. Checks should be made payable the University of Maryland.

For more information, go to!2015lambkidschool/c5y1.

Download registration form

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Fill Out Sheep Industry Survey

The American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) is conducting a survey to help develop priorities for our industry and we need your input.  The priorities that you identify will help guide both public and private investments towards the most important needs in research, education and development.

The survey is simple and self contained so you don't have to send anything back to us.  The survey will tell you when you are finished and the system will automatically store your responses in a confidential manner; your identity is not stored.

The deadline to complete the survey is October 8th, so please spend a few minutes answering the questions as soon as you can and help us get a good turn out for this survey.

To access the survey instrument, simply copy and paste the link below into your internet browser.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Buy a Performance Tested Buck

Most of the bucks in this year's Western Maryland Pasture-Based Meat Goat Performance Test are for sale via private treaty. Some of the top-performers will be sold next year (as yearlings) at the Bluegrass Performance Invitational in Frankfort, Kentucky.

Top-performing buck as of day 70
After a 12-day adjustment period, the test began on June 26. The last data will be collected on October 2. While on test, the bucks are evaluated for growth (average daily gain), parasite resistance (fecal egg counts), and parasite resilience (FAMACHA© scores and need for deworming). Carcass muscling (rib eye area) is determined by ultrasound. The bucks are also evaluated for reproductive soundness (teats and testicles) and structural correctness (feet, legs, hooves, and teeth). The top-ten bucks will be identified after all of the data is received and analyzed.

Visit the Goat Test blog (or web page) to find a buck that meets your breeding goals. A list of consignors (with contact info) can be downloaded from the blog (right hand column) or web page.!goattest/cbev

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

North American Dairy Sheep Symposium

The 21st Annual Dairy Sheep Association of North America (DSANA) Symposium will be held in Madison, Wisconsin on November 5-7, 2015 with a pre-symposium sheep milk cheese-making course on November 4, 2015. Important deadlines are fast approaching: October 3 for reduced rates on hotel reservations and October 16 for early symposium registration at a reduced rate.

Dairy sheep farm in Maryland
Twelve presentations by 16 animal scientists, dairy sheep producers, veterinarians, and sheep milk cheese makers and marketers will be held on November 5-6 at the Pyle Center on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. Tour buses on Saturday, November 7 will take participants to Cedar Grove Cheese in Plain, Wisconsin operated by Master Cheesemaker, Bob Wills, and to Hidden Springs Creamery in Westby, Wisconsin where participants will visit the modern dairy sheep farm and artisan cheese plant operated by Dean and Brenda Jensen.

The pre-symposium sheep milk cheesemaking course will be offered on November 4 at the Center for Dairy Research on the UW-Madison campus for symposium participants and DSANA members for an extra fee.

The complete program and registration and hotel information can be accessed at the DSANA web site ( or the University of Wisconsin-Madison Sheep and Goat Extension web site ( or by contacting Bill Halligan, DSANA Treasurer, P.O. Box 96, Bushnell, NE 69128 (308-235-5900, or Dave Thomas, UW-Madison, 1675 Observatory Dr., Madison, WI 53706 (608-263-4306, 

Download program brochure

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Sheep Field Day & Ram Lamb Sale

The 2015 Virginia Tech Southwest Sheep Field Day and Ram Lamb Sale will be held Saturday, September 26 at the Virginia Tech Southwest Agricultural Research & Extension Center, Glade Spring, Virginia. Katahdin rams participating in the ram test at the AREC will be offered for sale.  Some of the rams sold will also have EBVs for parasite resistance.

Katahdin rams from 2014 Sale
The purpose of the Southwest Virginia AREC Ram Test is to provide a standardized post-weaning performance evaluation of growth and parasite resistance that will furnish records which will be useful to the consignor's breeding program. The test also serves as an educational tool for the sheep industry.

Download Sale Catalog 

Editor's note:  This is one of the few opportunities to buy a ram that has proven parasite-resistance.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Test Your Knowledge

Take the this 10 question quiz to test your knowledge of how common deworming practices may help or hurt the resistance problem.

Traditionally, parasites have been controlled by frequent, regular administration of chemical dewormers.  However, with the emergence of multiple drug resistant parasites, new approaches are required.  Resistance is a genetic change in a population of worms that allows some individual worms to survive and multiply despite administering the proper dose of dewormer at the right time. 

It is now essential to view all dewormers as extremely valuable and limited resources that must be used intelligently with prevention of resistance as a goal.

  • True or false?
    A good practice is to deworm all of the animals in the herd then move them immediately to a new, clean, safe pasture.

Source:  Timely Topics, American Consortium for Small Ruminant Parasite Control (ACSRPC). Written by Dr. Michelle Arnold, Ruminant Extension Veterinarian, University of Kentucky.

Go to full article

Monday, August 31, 2015

Webinar: Dietary Supplements

The Let's Grow Committee of the American Sheep Industry Association is sponsoring its last webinar of this fiscal year with registration now open for Dietary Supplements: A Necessity or Folly?

The session will be hosted by Dr. Jay Parsons, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and presented by Dr. Robert Van Saun, Penn State University, on Tuesday, September 22 at 8 p.m. EST. To register, go to

This webinar will look more closely at forages in determining if they can meet essential nutrient requirements of sheep at different productive stages. Fiber content of a forage is a function of plant maturity and can potentially limit intake resulting in inadequate energy or protein intake.

Forage mineral content is a complex interaction between plant, soil conditions and fertilization practices and that may result in inappropriate mineral content predisposing to disease conditions. The true wild card of forages is trace mineral status. Trace minerals are essential nutrients influencing productivity and immune response. Most forages are deficient in a number of critical trace minerals as well as having high concentrations of interfering minerals resulting in deficiency or toxicity conditions.

The goal of the webinar is to provide participants with a better perspective on how their forage may limit or promote their feeding program and the potential role for dietary supplements.

Missed the EBV Webinar?
If you missed the webinar, Using EBVs to Achieve Your Breeding Goals, presented by Dr. Dave Notter, it is now available online at by clicking on the Resources tab. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Fecal Eggs Not Evenly Dispersed

Fecal eggs are not usually evenly dispersed in a flock or herd. It is estimated that 20-30% of the flock or herd is responsible for 70-80% of the egg output (per gram of feces).

This rule was tested with the Western Maryland Pasture Based Meat Goat Performance Test. On August 6, fecal egg counts ranged from 25 to 11,300 epg (for 79 goats). The cumulative egg count of the 23 goats with the highest egg counts was 99,425. This represented 70 percent of the total egg output of 142,475. The other 71% of the goats accounted for only 30% of the egg output.

The challenge is to determine which animals are the heavy egg shedders in your flock and/or herd -- and to get rid of them!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Upcoming Events in Virginia

August 29
Sheep Field Day & 40th Annual Virginia Performance Tested Ram Lamb and Replacement Ewe Lamb Sale, Steele's Tavern, Virginia

The field day will start at 10:30 a.m. Field day topics will include selection for parasite resistance, fall lamb management, lamb marketing, and sheep health.  The sale will start at 1 p .m. Eighty rams of various breeds were evaluated in the 2015 test.

September 5
16th Annual Virginia Tech Sheep Center Production Sale
Virginia Tech Alphin-Stuart Livestock Arena, Blacksburg, Virginia

Rams and ewes from Virginia Tech's registered Suffolk and Dorset flocks will sell. The Suffolk flock has been selected for growth and carcass composition. The Dorset flock is maintained primarily as a fall-lambing flock, with emphasis on maternal ability, growth, and moderate size. The sale will begin at 10 a.m. For the first time, sale-day internet bidding will be available at

September 26
2015 Virginia Tech Southwest AREC Ram Test Annual Field Day & Ram Sale
Southwest AREC, Glade Spring, Virginia

The field day begins at 10:30 a.m. Field day topics will include flock health and management, parasite management, and test data summary.  The sale starts at 1 p..m  One hundred and nine rams are being evaluated in this year's test. Approximately 30 rams from the top end will be sold. A portion of the rams will be from NSIP flocks and have EBVs. 

November 6-7
Sheep Management Basics Workshop
Virginia Tech Jack Copenhaver Sheep Center, Blacksburg, Virginia

This workshop is designed for individuals with a limited amount of experience in the care and management of sheep. Special emphasis will be placed on the management practices required during and around the time of lambing. Participants will get hands-on experience with a group of ewes that will be lambing during the two-day workshop. This workshop is limited to a maximum of 25 participants.

For more information about any of these events, visit the Virginia Tech Sheep Extension web site at

Monday, August 17, 2015

NSIP Sale Averages $707

The Annual Center of the Nation Sale, featuring National Sheep Improvement Program (NSIP) sheep, was held recently in Iowa.  One hundred and two sheep sold. They averaged $707. Rams averaged $769. Ewes averaged $515. The high-selling ram (Polypay) brought $2400. The top-selling ewe (Suffolk) sold for $1000.

20 Polypay rams @ $1023
3 Polypay ewes @ $467
24 Suffolk rams @ $614
12 Suffolk ewes @ $600
15 Hampshire rams @ $605
3 Dorset rams @ 433
5 Dorset ewes @ $325
3 Columbia rams @ $717
3 Columbia ewes @ $558
5 Katahdin rams @ $910
2 Katahdin ewes @ $500
3 Targhee rams @ $900
3 SireMax rams @ $550
1 Shropshire ram @ $1200

NSIP calculates Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) on a variety of traits based on generations of performance data. Midwest producers created the Center of the Nation Sale as a marketplace for sheep with EBVs.  The total sheep industry has benefited.