Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Composite Fecal Sampling

One of the methods for determining anthelmintic (dewormer) resistance is the Fecal Egg Count Reduction Test (FECRT). Fecal samples from individual animals are compared before or after treatment or to a control group after treatment. It is recommended that at least 15 animals be sampled.

As an alternative to individual fecal samples, researchers at the University of Georgia compared using pooled composite samples with individual samples. The results of their research were recently published in the Journal of Veterinary Parasitology, "Using composite fecal samples when testing for anthelmintic resistance in gastrointestinal nematodes of cattle."

Their research showed the mean fecal egg counts from the composite and individual fecal samples to be 98.9% in agreement. The fecal egg count reduction of the composite and individual samples was 95.9% in agreement.

The researchers concluded that composite sampling is a practical tool for producers to assess resistance and that is should improve parasitological testing among producers. Methods of composite sampling are discussed in the article.

Read journal article 

Friday, May 19, 2017

Skillathon Winners Announced

About sixty youth competed in the 2017 Junior Sheep & Goat Skillathon, held recently at the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival. Youth and teams competed according to their ages as of January 1:  Junior, 8-10; Intermediate, 11-13; and Senior, 14-19.

The first place junior was Matthew Simpson from West Virginia. Eddyn Molden from Frederick County, Virginia, placed second. Brooke Crandell from Pennsylvania was third. The first place junior team was the team from Frederick County, Virginia. Howard County (Maryland) had the second place junior team.  Montgomery County was third.

Junior winners

In the intermediate division, Lizzy Miller from Montgomery County was first. Ana Clemmer from Howard County was second and Jordan Kelly from Frederick County (Virginia) was third. The first place intermediate team was the team from Frederick County (Virginia). Frederick County, Maryland, was second.

Intermediate winners

In the senior division, Brietta Latham from Howard County placed first. Two Charles County 4-Hers placed second and third, respectively:  Hayley Tanner and Taylar Burch. Howard County had the first place senior team, followed by Frederick County, Virginia, and Frederick County Maryland.

Senior winners

The Maryland Sheep Breeders Association provided ribbons and premiums to the top 10 individuals in each age division and Festival t-shirts to the top-3 teams.

Special thanks to Chris Anderson, 4-H Youth Animal Science Specialist with University of  Maryland Extension, for running this year's skillathon, while Susan Schoenian, Sheep & Goat Specialist, was on sabbatical.

The skillathon is always held the first weekend of May (Sunday) at the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival. Competition is open to individuals and teams of youth (age 8-18) from any state or province.

Images by Chris Anderson

Monday, May 15, 2017

Worms Kill 87,000 goats in 2015

According to a recent USDA report, "Goat and Kid Predator and Nonpredator Death Loss inthe United States," about 500,000 adult and kid goats were lost to all causes (nonpredator and predator) in the United States (in 2015), which represented 9.8 percent of U.S. adult goat inventory and 19.4 percent of kids born in 2015.

Nonpredator causes accounted for about three-fourths of all adult goat and kid death losses in the United States in 2015. Undetermined causes (found dead or unknown) accounted for the highest number of nonpredator losses in both goats and kids. Of known losses due to nonpredator causes, internal parasites were the primary cause of loss, resulting in almost 87,000 goat and kid deaths in 2015.

Internal parasites accounted for 22.7 percent of all known death losses:  24.8% of goats, 15.6% of pre-weaned kids, 37.7% of post-weaned kids, and 21.5% of all kids. Some of the unknown (found dead) death losses may also have been the result of internal parasites.

Source: Goat and Kid Predator and Nonpredator Death Loss in the United States, 2015

Friday, April 28, 2017

Spring 2017 Wild & Woolly

The Spring 2017 issue of Wild & Woolly is now available. Wild & Woolly is published by University of Maryland Extension. It is a quarterly newsletter for sheep and goat producers and anyone else interested in small ruminants.

Wild & Woolly is available in several formats:  HTML, PDF, and ISSUU.  You can subscribe to a listserv to receive an email message when a new issue has been published. To subscribe, send an email to In the body of the message, write subscribe sheepandgoatnews.

This issue includes articles on Merino sheep, mastitis, feedlotting dairy goats, calculating adjusted weaning weights, and electronic identification (RFID).

Previous issues of the newsletter can be accessed at

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Reducing Worm Larvae With Liquid N

As it is well-known, barber pole larvae show increased resistance to commercial anthelmintics drenched to small ruminant livestock, and producers are looking for other alternatives. What about bypassing the livestock entirely and applying a larvicidal product directly on the pasture itself?  Laboratory studies we conducted at North Carolina State University showed that 96.6% L3 barber pole larvae were not moving or dead when immersed in solutions of liquid nitrogen fertilizer.  

So, could we pop two balloons with one dart by fertilizing pastures with liquid nitrogen fertilizer to promote forage growth and at the same time reducing pasture nematode larvae population, their subsequent ingestion by grazing animals and ultimately reducing gastrointestinal parasite loads? North Carolina State University conducted three experiments to test this hypothesis on predominantly tall fescue pastures.

Read full article at  

Monday, April 17, 2017

Kiko and Spanish Does Should be Preferred

Researchers at Tennessee State University evaluated health and reproductive traits of Boer, Kiko, Spanish, and Myotonic  does. The Myotonic, a heritage breed, was previously lacking in comparative assessment.

Kiko doe with twins
In the study, Boer (n=73), Kiko (n=115), Myotonic (n=80), and Spanish (n=114) meat goat does were compared for traits associated with health and reproduction. The herd was semi-intensively managed on humid subtropical pasture for 6 years. The study included 838 matings and over 2,000 records for body weight (BW), fecal egg count (FEC), and packed cell volume (PCV).

Boer and Kiko does had heavier BW than Spanish does, which were heavier than Mytonic does.  Myotonic does had lower FEC than Boer does; Kiko and Spanish were intermediate. Kiko, Myotonic, and Spanish does had higher PVC than Boer does. Annual kidding rates, weaning rates, doe retention rates, and kid crop weaned were greater for Kiko and Spanish does than for Boer does, whereas Myotonic does were intermediate.

The results suggest that Kiko and Spanish does should be preferred over Boer and Myotonic does for sustainable meat goat doe performance under limited-input management conditions. Myotonic does maintained the lowest FEC among all doe breeds and warrant further evaluation as a genetic resource for controlling gastrointestinal parasitism.

 Read Journal of Animal Science Abstract (April 2017)

Monday, April 3, 2017

DUP has no effect during periparturient period

Ewes experience a temporary decline in resistance to gastrointestinal nematodes (GIN) during the periparturient period, characterized by a rise in fecal egg count (FEC) that represents a major source of pasture contamination for naïve progeny. The aim of an Irish study was to assess the effect of level of supplementation with digestible undegraded protein (DUP) during the last 6 weeks of pregnancy on periparturient FEC and the performance of ewes with a naturally acquired parasite infection.

Periparturient ewes
Eighty-five Belclare and Belclare x Scottish Blackface twin/triplet-bearing ewes were allocated to 1 of 4 dietary groups representing the combination of 2 concentrates (DUP concentration 29 and 94 g/kg dry matter) with 2 levels of concentrate during the final 6 weeks of gestation. All ewes were housed during the pre-partum feeding period and offered grass silage ad libitum.  After lambing, ewes and lambs grazed on permanent sheep pasture, without concentrate supplementation, until weaning (14 weeks post lambing).

The effect of week (relative to lambing date) on FEC was highly significant. However, diet did not influence FEC at any stage either pre- or post-partum.  The changes in BW and BCS from 6 weeks before lambing to weaning were not affected by the concentration of DUP in the supplement, but ewes on treatments involving the higher level of supplementation lost less BW and BCS.

The results of this study indicate that the level of DUP supplementation during the last 6 weeks of pregnancy does not affect FEC, BW or BCS of housed ewes with a naturally acquired GIN infection.

Read abstract from Veterinary Parasitology (February 2017).

Friday, March 24, 2017

2017 Junior Sheep & Goat Skillathon

The 2017 Junior Sheep & Goat Skillathon will be held Sunday, May 7 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. For the first time, there will be an admission fee for adults ($5).  Everyone under 18 enters for free. Parking remains free.

A skillathon provides youth with the opportunity to blend knowledge and skills acquired in livestock judging, demonstrations, and care and exhibition of animals into a single activity. It consists of a series of stations where youth are tested on their knowledge and abilities related to livestock. In the Sheep & Goat Skillathon, all stations pertain to sheep and goats (meat, milk, and fiber).

Fleece judging is always one of the stations.

The Junior Sheep & Goat Skillathon is open to any youth between the ages of 8 and 18. Individuals and teams (of 3 or 4) from any county, state, or province may compete. Youth compete according to their age as of January 1st of the current year. Youth ages 8 to 10 compete as juniors; youth ages 11 to 13 compete as intermediates; and youth 14 to 18 compete as seniors.

Questions pertaining to this year's skillathon should be directed to Christopher Anderson, 4-H Youth Development Specialist, Animal Science, University of Maryland Extension, Maryland 4-H Center, 8020 Greenmead Drive, College Park, MD 20740, phone: (301) 314-7187, fax: (301) 314-7146 or Register online by April 28 at

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Hold the Date: All Worms, All Day

A Delmarva Small Ruminant Conference dubbed "All Worms, All Day" will be held Saturday, December 9, 2017, at Delaware State University in Dover, Delaware.

The all-day program will be devoted 100 percent to internal parasites (worms). Speakers will include members of the American Consortium for Small Ruminant Control (ACSRPC). A youth program is also being planned.

Save the date now. Details will follow.

Monday, March 13, 2017

New Facebook Pages

Delaware State University and Fort Valley State University both have new Facebook pages that pertain to small ruminants.

Delaware State University's Facebook page is maintained by Dr. Kwame Matthews, the new Small Ruminant Specialist. Dr. Matthews has a split appointment between research, teaching, and extension. He received part of his education on Delmarva, before going to Tuskegee University (in Alabama) to get his doctorate. Parasites are one of his main research interests.

Fort Valley State University's Animal Science Extension Facebook Page is maintained by Dr. Niki Whitley, Animal Science Extension Specialist. Dr. Whitley works primarily with small ruminant production. She held similar positions at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and North Carolina A&T State University before returning to her home state of Georgia.

Facebook is an online social media and social networking service. It has more than 1.86 billion monthly active users as of December 31, 2016.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

How to Grow Worms (or Not)

This month’s Timely Topic from the American Consortium for Small Ruminant Parasite Control (ACSRPC) is about planning grazing as part of your parasite control program for the year.  The article is written by Dr. Steve Hart, a Goat Extension Specialist from Langston University.

With proper planning, you can reduce worm problems and losses from worms.  Most of the management to prevent worms revolves around grazing management.

Read full article by Dr. Steve Hart

Thursday, March 2, 2017

No Maryland Wool Pool in 2017

After 59 years of operation, there will be no Maryland Wool Pool in 2017.  For many years, the wool pool has provided a market outlet for fleeces. The pool has been especially beneficial for small producers.

There have been many managers of the Maryland Wool Pool. Prices always seemed to be higher than other pools, with similar types of wool. The Maryland pool was always innovative in its approaches to marketing wool, instituting classing and baling. In fact, the Maryland Wool Pool hosted many ASI classing schools.

In its next newsletter, the Maryland Sheep Producers Association will offer alternatives for marketing wool. There are still wool pools in neighboring states:  Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. Some shearers will purchase wool.

Many producers direct market their wool to hand spinners. Others add value to their wool and sell roving, top, yarn, or finished products. You can take wool to landfills. Many producers have switched to hair sheep, so they don't have to worry about shearing and marketing wool.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Winter 2017 Wild & Woolly

The Winter 2017 issue of Wild & Woolly has been published and is available in several formats. The quarterly newsletter for sheep and goat producers is published by University of Maryland Extension. This issue was written and compiled by Jeff Semler, as I am on sabbatical until June 1. Jeff is the Ag Extension Agent in Washington County, Maryland.


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Upcoming Webinar: Dairy Sheep

"Is Sheep Milk Production in Your Future" is the title of an upcoming webinar on March 14, 2017, at 8 p.m. EST. The presenter is Dr. Dave Thomas, Professor of Sheep Management and Genetics from the University of Wisconsin (retired). The host is Jay Parsons from Optimal Ag. The sponsor is ASI's Let's Grow Program.

Milking sheep in Maryland
The U.S. is the leading importing of sheep milk cheeses in the world with over half of all world trade in sheep milk cheeses coming to the U.S. Some common imported 100% sheep milk cheeses are Manchego from Spain, Pecorino-Romano from Italy, and Roquefort from France.

Therefore, it would seem that there is ample opportunity for the development of a dairy sheep industry in the U.S. for the production of domestic cheeses to compete with this large influx of imported sheep milk cheeses.

However, nothing is ever as simple as it looks. This webinar will discuss the things that are necessary to produce sheep milk efficiently .

To register for the webinar, go to