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.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Performance & Carcass Contest

A Performance & Carcass Contest was held in conjunction with the 2016 Western Maryland Pasture-Based Meat Goat Performance Test. Consigners who consigned bucks to the test were eligible to enter a goat in the contest. Fifteen goats were entered from ten states. All of the bucks were Kiko. There were 14 bucks and 1 wether.

Grand Champion Goat

After a 13-day adjustment period, the goats were fed for 87 days. They consumed a hay and grain diet. Hay was fed ad libitum. Grain was limit fed, about 1 pound per head per day. The goats were not fed for maximum gain. They were kept in a 16 ft. x 16 ft pen, with limited grazing. Shelter was provided via a 3-sided shed. Environmental enrichment was provided.

Eleven of the original goats were harvested to collect carcass data. The carcasses were deboned into portions of lean, fat, and bone.  Lean gain per day was the statistic used to rank the goats. It was determined by multiplying yield (lbs. lean ÷ live weight) by ADG (lbs. gain per day).

The Grand Champion goat was a Kiko buck entered by Angie Loos from Illinois. It easily won the competition, excelling in every performance and carcass category. The Reserve Champion was entered by Richard Gamby from Ohio. William Winingear & Brittany White from Missouri had the 3rd place goat. The 4th and 5th place goats were entered by John Smith (Virginia) and Patricia Larr (Indiana), respectively. The wether was the fattest goat in the competition. It did not place in the top 5.

Read full article about contest

Friday, September 2, 2016

No Benefit to Removing Tapeworms

In 2012 and 2013, an experiment was conducted on a commercial sheep farm in the Northern Tablelands of New South Wales, Australia, to test the hypothesis that the growth rates of meat-type lambs would not be affected by the removal of tapeworms (Monieza spp.).

In 2012 and 2013, 93 and 85 lambs respectively were randomly allocated to two treatment groups. One group (Prazi) was treated with praziquantel, levamisole and abamectin to remove tapeworm and gastrointestinal nematode infection (GIN) while the second group (Control) was treated with levamisole and abamectin to remove only GIN.

Tapeworm prevalence and egg counts of Control lambs ranged from 25 to 77% and 7 to 730 eggs per gram (epg) respectively and were significantly reduced in Prazi lambs, following treatment, at all time-points in both years. Pre-treatment GIN worm egg counts ranged between 1684 and 3368 epg with Haemonchus contortus being the dominant species. Post-treatment GIN worm egg counts were similar between Prazi and Control groups, expect on one occasion (Day 65, 2013) when GIN worm egg counts were expectantly higher in Control lambs.

81 g/d
0.18 lb/d
134 g/d
0.30 lb/d
95 g/d
0.21 lb/d
132 g/d
0.29 lb/d

No significant difference in growth rates were observed between treatment groups in either year with overall group mean daily body weight gains being 95 and 81 g/day  (0.18 and 0.21 lb/d)  in 2012 and 132 and 134 g/day (0.30 and 0.29 lb/d) in 2013 for the Prazi and Control groups respectively. This experiment confirmed that removal of tapeworm burdens did not increase growth rates in meat-breed lambs.

Source:  Veterinary Parasitology, March 2015

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Are There Zebras?

Every veterinary student learns that when you hear hoofbeats you think of horses and not zebras—in other words, the most likely cause of disease in an animal is the most common one.  The zebras are the unlikely causes of disease and should only be considered after the likely causes have been ruled out.

In most of the United States sheep and goat producers know that pale mucous membranes and bottle jaw signal the presence of a disease-causing load of the barber pole worm, Haemonchus contortus.  But is Haemonchus the only cause of anemia and bottle jaw that you could encounter?  Could there be some zebras?

Read Dr. Anne Zajac's article about potential zebras

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Virginia Tech Production Sheep Sale

The 17th Annual Virginia Tech Production Sheep Sale will be held Saturday, September 3, 2016, at the Alphin-Stuart Livestock Arena on the campus of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia.

In addition to Suffolk and Dorset ram lambs, select groups of Suffolk and Dorset ewe lambs will be offered for sale. This year's sale will be available through the itnernet for online bidding using www.CowBuyer,com. For updates and more information, go to

Proceeds from the sale provide major financial support for the sheep program at Virginia Tech.

Southwest Virginia Ram Sale & Field Day

The 2016 Southwest AREC Sheep Field Day and Ram Test Sale will be held Saturday, September 23 at Virginia Tech's Southwest Agricultural Research & Extension Center in Glade Spring, Virginia. Katahdin rams participating in the ram test will be offered for sale.

Katahdin rams from 2014 sale
The purpose of the test is to quantify the growth and parasite resistance of rams. For more information, please contact Lee Wright at (276) 944-2200 or Dr. Scott Greiner at (540) 231-9159.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Field Day, Ram & Ewe Sale in Virginia

The 41st Annual Virginia Performance Tested Ram Lamb Sale & Replacement Ewe Lamb Sale will be held Saturday, August 27, 2016, at the Virginia Sheep Evaluation Station in Steele's Tavern, Virginia.  It will include a Field Day and Educational Program. The educational program will begin at 10:30 a.m. The sale will begin at 1 p.m.

Field Day topics include forage management and winter feeding, selecting for parasite resistance, lamb marketing, and sheep health. Eighty rams were delivered to the test site on May 3, 2016 (13 fall Dorset, 7 winter Dorset,  8 winter Hampshire, 3 fall Suffolk, 36 winter Suffolk, 6 winter North Country Cheviot, 3 fall White Dorper, 5 winter White Dorper, 1 fall Katahdin, and 10 Winter Katahdin). Unsound and unsuitable rams will not be sold.

More information, including videos of the sale rams, is available at Or visit the ram test on Facebook at

Monday, July 18, 2016

Summer 2016 Wild & Woolly

The Summer 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.



Monday, July 11, 2016

Everything Sheep and Goats

A Twilight Tour & Tasting was held July 8 at the Washington County Agricultural Education Center in Boonsboro, Maryland, to celebrate everything sheep and goats. Attendance was capped at 100.

Handing out samples of lamb and goat
Local chef Todd Morren prepared six dishes made from lamb and chevon (goat meat) and one dish made from cheese (sheep milk). Small ruminant dairies were on hand to give out cheese samples and sell their products. There was a display of small ruminant fibers.

On the wagon tour
There were wagon tours to the Western Maryland Research & Education Center. Tour stops included the Western Maryland Pasture-Based Meat Goat Performance Test (11th year) and the Goat Performance & Carcass Contest (1st year).