Thursday, October 12, 2017

Fall 2017 Wild & Woolly

The Fall 2017 issue of Wild & Woolly has been published. Wild & Woolly is a quarterly newsletter for sheep and goat producers. It is published by University of Maryland Extension.

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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

All Worms All Day

All Worms All Day is the theme of the 2017 Delmarva Small Ruminant Conference to be held Saturday, December 9, 9:15 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., at Delaware State University in Dover, Delaware.

The program will feature general and concurrent sessions. There will be a parallel, separate program for older youth, age 14 and up. All of the speakers for the adult program are members of the American Consortium for Small Ruminant Parasite Control (ACSRPC). The instructors for the youth program will be Susan Garey and Dan Severson from the University of Delaware and Ashley Travis from the Universit of Maryland.

The pre-registration deadline for the conference is November 20. You can register online. Alternatively, you can register by sending a check (payable to Delaware State University) to Dr. Kwame Matthews, Delaware State University, 1200 N. Dupont Highway, Dover, Delaware 19940.

The registration fee is $40 for adults and $30 for youth. The fee covers lunch, morning refreshments, and proceedings (flash drive). To request special assistance due to disability, please contact Dr. Kwame Matthews by November 20 at or (302) 857-6540, by November 20.

Register online
Download program brochure and registration form

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

"Worm Tested" Rams Average $1226

On September 22, 2017, thirty-nine rams from the Southwest AREC Ram Test in Virginia were auctioned off to eager bidders. One hundred and ten rams originating from twenty-six flocks in nine states were delivered to the test site on May 30. Thirty-nine top-performers were selected for the auction. They represented the top 60 percent in performance.

The thirty-nine rams grossed $47,800. Prices ranged from $400 to $3400. The average price was $1226. The mean was $1000. The top-indexing ram sold for $2200. The high-selling ram brought $3400.  Fourteen of the rams sold, including the top-performing ram, also had EBVs (estimated breeding values) for worm egg counts. These rams ranged in price from $600 to $2200. They sold for an average price of $1278. The median price was $1350.

One of the rams being auctioned off
Following a three week adjustment period, the rams were evaluated for growth and parasite resistance over a 70-day period. They grazed fescue paddocks and received supplemental feed (76% TDN, 18% CP) at a rate of approximately 3 percent of their body weight. At the start of the test, the rams received an oral dose of 5000 3rd stage Haemonchus contortus. Body weights and FAMACHA© scores were determined biweekly. Fecal samples were collected every 14 days. The rams were scanned at the end of the test to determine backfat and eye muscle depth. An index, based on a combination of traits, was used to identify top performers and determine the sale order.

The Southwest AREC Ram Test is conducted annually at Virginia Tech's Southwest Ag Research & Extension Center in Glade Spring, Virginia. The first test was conducted in 2012. For more information about the test, contact Lee Wright at (276) 944-2200 or Dr. Scott Greiner at (540) 231-9159.

The Southeast AREC Ram Test is the only ram performance test that evaluates rams for parasite resistance . For 11 years, the Western Maryland Pasture-Based Meat Goat Performance Test evaluated meat goat bucks for parasite resistance (natural infection). Eastern Oklahoma State College conducts an annual buck test in which fecal egg counts are used to determine performance. The Katahdin breed is the only breed of sheep or goat (in the US) in which EBVs are calculated for parasite resistance (fecal egg counts).

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Next ASI Let's Grow Webinar

The next ASI Let's Grow Webinar is Tuesday, October 3, 2017, at 8 p.m. The title of the webinar is Selection of Replacement Ewes and Culling Underperforming Ewes. The presenter is Susan Schoenian, University of Maryland Sheep & Goat Specialist.

Sound, productive ewes are the foundation of a successful sheep farm. Selection and culling decisions will go a long way towards ensuring profitability.

This webinar is made possible with funding support from the Let’s Grow Committee of the American Sheep Industry Association.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

First American Goat Federation Webinar

The American Goat Federation is hosting a webinar series in September 2017. The first webinar will be Tuesday, September 5, 7-8 p.m. EST. It will give a brief history and overview of the current state of the goat industry. The speaker is Dr. Reid Redden, Extension Sheep & Goat Specialist for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.

To participate go to:
When prompted for meeting number, enter 649 382 652
When prompted for password, enter Goat1

Additional webinars will be held on September 12, 19, and 26.

The American Goat Federation (AGF) was organized in 2010 to represent the interests of all organizations and producers engaged in the sustainable production and marketing of goat milk, meat, fiber, pack and grazing services across the United States. The goal of AGF is to unify, improve, and advance the American goat industry by providing input to agencies on public policy and research, and providing information and education to producers to achieve maximum success.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Upcoming Programs in Virginia

The 42nd  Annual Virginia Performance Tested Ram Sale, Ewe Lamb Sale, and Sheep Field Day will be held Saturday, August 26 at the Shenandoah Valley Agricultural Research & Education Center near Raphine, Virginia. The educational program starts at 10:30 am, with the ram and ewe lamb sale starting at 1 pm. Information is available on the Virginia Sheep Producers Association web site at

The Virginia Tech Sheep Center will be hosting its 18th annual Production Sale on Saturday, September 2 at the Alphin-Stuart Livestock Arena on the campus of Virginia Tech. Approximately 50 head of Suffolk and Dorset ram lambs and ewe lambs will be offered. Additional information is available at

On Friday, September 22, a Sheep Field Day and Katahdin Ram Sale will be held at the Southwest Agricultural Research & Education Center in Glade Spring, Virginia. This is the fifth year for this hair sheep ram performance test which includes evaluation of parasite resistance. The educational program will center around this activity, and the top end of the rams will be sold. The Field Day will begin at noon with sale to follow. Details and information will be forthcoming on the Southwest AREC web site at

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

A New Era in Western Maryland

The Western Maryland Pasture-Based Meat Goat Performance Test was initiated at the University of Maryland’s Western Maryland Research & Education in Keedysville (Washington County) in 2006.

The purpose of the test was to evaluate the post-weaning performance of meat goat bucklings consuming a pasture-based diet, with natural exposure to internal parasites. Identifying bucks that were resistant and resilient to internal parasites was the trademark of the test.

The test was conducted for eleven years. Almost 800 bucks were evaluated. While the test was open to any breed or cross of goat, it gradually evolved into a “Kiko test.”  Over the span of the test, more than 100 producers from 20 states consigned bucks. Top-performing bucks were sold (as far away as California) or returned to farms for breeding.

Bucks from the 2012 test
Over the years, many programs and activities were held in conjunction with the test, including field days, tours, sales, skillathons, and carcass evaluation. In 2014, the BluegrassPerformance Invitational in Frankfort, Kentucky, was established as a place to sell performance tested goats, including the top-performing bucks from the Maryland test. This year's sale is September 1-2, 2017.

Now, the goat test era is over (in  Maryland). Goat producers will be encouraged and assisted in their move to the next step in performance testing: within and across-herd EBVs. EBV stands for estimated breeding value and is a measure of genetic merit, The data is far more accurate than the data from buck tests.

A sheep research program will be initiated at the Western Maryland Research & Education next spring (2018). The pastures are being re-established and new infrastructure is being put in, as the hoop house that was installed several years ago was completely destroyed this past winter.

Internal parasites (GI worms) will likely continue to be the focus of the research program, as it is a logical follow-up to the goat test and parasites remain a major obstacle to profitable small ruminant production. We also plan to plant different forages for grazing.

Bucks from the 2014 test
I’d like to express appreciation to my “Goat Team”: Jeff Semler, David Gordon, Pam Thomas, and Mary Beth Bennett. Others who played key roles include E. Nelson Escobar, Niki Whitley, Willie Lantz, Chris Anderson, Jeanne Deitz-Band, Lexie Simmons, and Amy Garza.

Dr. Dahlia O’Brien at Virginia State University (previously at Delaware State University) was instrumental to the success of the test, as she performed all the fecal egg analyses.

Thanks to the Maryland Grain Producers Utilization Board for providing funding for the pen vs. pasture studies.

Thanks to everyone who supported the goat test over the years, including all the consigners and buyers of bucks.

Susan Schoenian
Sheep & Goat Specialist
University of Maryland Extension

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Webinar: Selection for Parasite Resistance

Dr. Joan Burke
Image from USDA ARS
The next ASI Let's Grow Webinar will be held Tuesday, August 22, 2017, at 8 p.m. The topic is Selection for Parasite Resistance. The speaker is Dr. Joan Burke. The host is Dr. Jay Parsons. Dr. Burke is a USDA-ARS Research Animal Scientist at the Dale Bumper's Small Farm Research Center in Booneville, Arkansas. Dr. Parsons is from the University of Nebraska.

To register, to:…/1611123568671444227. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

The webinar is made possible with funding support from the Let's Grow Committee of the American Sheep Industry Association. The Let's Grow mission is to support and ensure the future of U.S. wool and lamb production.

Link to previous Let's Grow webinars

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Goat Producers: Share Your Opinion

The USDA National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS) is conducting needs-assessment surveys for its upcoming Goat 2019 study of the goat industry.  To help NAHMS craft the most informative study possible and obtain data that will be most beneficial to the goat industry.  The survey should take 10 minutes or less to complete.

NAHMS Goat 2019 Needs Assessment:

The survey asks what you consider to be the most important health issues facing the U.S. goat industry.  It also asks you to help identify the information that is needed regarding health-management practices used in the U.S. goat industry sectors.  The survey will be available through September 8, 2017.

The goat study will initiate data collection in 2019. This will be the second NAHMS study of the goat industry. The data from the study will be reported only in summary form; individual responses will be confidential.  Results from the preliminary survey linked above will help determine the priorities and objectives for the goat study.

Additional information about NAHMS, including reports from prior goat studies, is available at