Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Sheep Industry Leadership School

The National Lamb Feeders Association, with the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center, American Lamb Board and American Sheep Industry Association is proud to sponsor the 28th annual Howard Wyman Sheep Industry Leadership in Dixon, CA, July 13–16, 2014.

Wyman, who started the school in 1986, did so to give new sheep growers an opportunity to learn first hand what happens to their animals after they leave the farm. Because everything within today’s industry is changing so rapidly, the school continues to play an important role.

Dr. Melissa VanLaningham, Director of Food Science at Superior Farms, will serve as this year’s school coordinator. The program, titled: Lamb by-Products – Discovering the 5th Primal – will include an extensive tour of the Superior Farms Dixon processing facility, plus discussions on offal production, pelts, and ovine blood collected for research purposes. Participants will also tour a nearby rendering facility, a retail grocery market, and a pet food packaging facility.

Applicants for the 2014 Leadership School should submit an application by first of May. Once accepted, a registration fee of $200 is required; however there is no fee to apply. During the school, meals, lodging, and tour expenses are covered by program sponsors. Participants are responsible for their own transportation to and from California.

Applications may be completed online and returned by fax or mail. Details are available on the NLFA web site: http://www.nlfa-sheep.org/leadership.html.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

2014 Junior Sheep & Goat Skillathon

The 2014 Junior Sheep & Goat Skillathon will be held Sunday, May 4, at the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival. The Festival is always held the first full weekend of May at the Howard County Fairgrounds in West Friendship. Registration for the contest begins at 8 a.m. The contest starts at 9 a.m.  Awards will be presented at approximately 1 p.m. A small donation is requested to cover the cost of lunch (pizza and sodas).

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 will pertain to sheep and/or goats.

The skillathon is open to any youth between the ages of 8 and 18. Individuals and teams (of 3 or 4) from any county or state 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.

The Maryland Sheep Breeders Association provides ribbons and premiums to the top ten individuals in each age division and festival t-shirts to the members of the top three teams in each age division. Additional awards are provided by the University of Maryland Extension Small Ruminant Program

Pre-registration of individuals and teams for the 2014 Junior Sheep & Goat Skillathon is requested by April 28. Pre-register by sending names, ages, and team affiliations via e-mail to Susan Schoenian at sschoen@umd.edu (or via fax at (301) 432-4089). Online registration is possible at http://www.sheepandwool.org/events_detail.php?eid=417.

For more information, contact Susan at (301) 432-2767 x343 or visit the web site at http://www.sheepandgoat.com/programs/skillathon/skilathon.html.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Preparing for Ethnic Holidays

According to a 2010 study funded by the American Sheep Industry Association, ethnic markets comprise a significant and growing portion of the US sheep market. For this reason, producers need to consider the dates of various ethnic holidays (or religious observances) when developing their marketing plans.

Traditionally, the demand for lamb increases at Easter. This year, both (Eastern) Orthodox and Roman (Western) Easter will occur on the same day, April 20.  Often, the Easters occur on different Sundays, as different calendars are used to calculate the dates of the holidays. When targeting the Easter markets, be sure to sell the right kind of lambs (usually milk-fed and “fat”) and place lambs in the market place at least 5-10 days before the holiday.  As an option, you might consider spreading your risks and sending some lambs directly after the holiday.  Prices sometimes are high afterwards as supply is decreased due to the holiday.

Muslim holidays have become increasing important to the US lamb market. There are two major Muslim holidays. Eid ul Fitr or the “Festival of Fast Breaking” follows the holy month of Ramadan, in which Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset and have celebratory meals in the evening. In 2014, this three day holiday will occur on July 29-31. The most important Muslim holiday is Eid ul Adha or the “Festival of the Sacrifice.” In 2014, it will occur October 4-7. This holiday commemorates Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son in obedience to God. Instead, he sacrificed a lamb (ram).

Muslim holidays cannot be predicted with exact certainty, since they are based on a lunar calendar and the siting of the moon.  For this same reason, Muslim holidays move forward approximately 11 days each year. The type of lamb demanded by Muslim consumers varies, but is usually an older, unblemished lamb or yearling, usually an intact male. As with any market segment, it’s important to learn what potential customers want and will pay a premium for.

To help US sheep producers evaluate and develop potential markets to ethnic consumers, three University Extension systems have partnered with their respective sheep associations to help address this opportunity.  Maine, Maryland and Ohio received funding from ASI’s Let’s Grow campaign in 2013 for this effort.  A series of webinars on marketing lamb to ethnic consumers was presented in November and December of 2013.  These webinars, each 1-hour in length, were recorded and are available for viewing.

In addition, the tri-state ethnic marketing project has created several tools to help producers make better marketing decisions.  Susan Schoenian Sheep & Goat Specialist for University of Maryland Extension has developed several spreadsheet templates to help producers evaluate marketing options.  Richard Brzozowski, Small Ruminant Specialist for the University of Maine has developed a template for producers to use in learning more about specific ethnic consumers as well as a set of questions for possible use in customer surveys.

For these tools on marketing lamb and mutton to ethnic consumers, go to http://umaine.edu/livestock/sheep/ethnic-marketing-of-lamb-and-mutton/.
For links to the webinar series on marketing lamb and mutton to ethnic consumers, go to http://www.sheepandgoat.com/recordings.html#ethnic.

Monday, April 7, 2014

2014 Virginia Ram Lamb Performance Test

The 2014 Virginia Ram Lamb Test program is set to begin on May 13, 2014.  Nominations are due April 10. Ram delivery is scheduled for Tuesday, April 29.The program is open to breeders from Virginia and surrounding states and to rams of all breeds (born September 2013 through February 2014).

After a two-week adjustment period, the rams will be tested for 63 days. They will be fed a pelleted ration containing 70% TDN and 14% CP and have unlimited access to grass paddocks while on test. Ultrasonic evaluation for carcass merit will be conducted at appropriate times during the test. The rams will be dewormed as needed, based on FAMACHA© scores. They will be run through a foot bath on a regular basis.

The top-performing rams will be sold on August 23 at the Shenandoah Valley Research & Education Center in Steele's Tavern, Virginia. In addition to the ram sale, there will be a consignment ewe sale and sheep field day and educational program.

For more information, go to http://www.apsc.vt.edu/extension/sheep/va-ram-program/.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Haemonchus contortus and camelids

by Dr. Lisa Williamson
University of Georgia College of Vet Medicine

As is the case in sheep and goats, gastrointestinal parasites are a leading cause of illness and death in camelids. The blood-feeding nematode Haemonchus contortus is especially devastating in camelid herds living in endemic areas.

Research conducted by the University of Georgia a few years ago on hundreds of llamas and alpacas living on 26 privately owned farms in the southeastern United States found that Haemonchus contortus was the most prevalent nematode parasite on the farms.

Multi-drug resistance was documented in the Haemonchus contortus and Trichostrongylus colubriformis isolates from the llamas and alpacas.  Similar to the anthelmintic profiles seen in sheep and goats in the southeastern United States, ivermectin and benzimidazole resistance was a common finding. Many Haemonchus contortus isolates from camelids were sensitive to levamisole and moxidectin.

Camelids were more challenging to score using the FAMACHA© system than sheep and goats, because many animals resented having a hand placed on their foreheads. Modification of the approach made scoring them easier.  Researchers concluded that the FAMACHA© system has good discriminatory value for detecting anemia associated with haemonchosis in camelids. Further, body condition score was a good indicator of which camelids were harboring the most significant parasite burdens regardless of type.

Source: American Consortium for Small Ruminant Parasite Control (ACSRPC) web site

Read full article

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

National webinar series: NSIP

The NSIP ReLaunch Committee will be holding a series of webinars in May and June to teach sheep and goat producers about the National Sheep Improvement Program (NSIP). NSIP is a quantitative genetic selection tool designed to help sheep and goat producers make good breeding decisions.

The webinars will be held on consecutive Thursday evenings from  May 1 until June 5. All webinars will begin at 8 p.m. EST and last for approximately 1 hour.

  • May 1
    How the sheep industry can benefit from NSIP
    Dr. Robert Banks, University of New England (Australia)
  • May 8
    How the goat industry can benefit from NSIP
    Dr. Ken Andries, Kentucky State University
  • May 15
    How, when, and what data to collect
    Cody Hiemke, Illinois Shropshire breeder
  • May 22
    Challenges of moving to a performance-based flock
    Bill Shultz, Ohio Suffolk breeder
  • May 29
    How to enter and submit data
    Dr. Chris Schauer, North Dakota State University
  • June 5
    How to use the data
    Producer panel

Anyone with a connection to the Internet may participate. High speed access is recommended. The webinars use Adobe Connect software. Smart phones and tablet computes require mobile versions of the software.

The webinars will be hosted by University of Maryland Extension (Susan Schoenian). To register for one or more webinars, send an e-mail message to pthomas@umd.edu. Registrants will receive log-in information via e-mail.

Download program flyer

Monday, March 31, 2014

Webinar: Managing Your Pastures Better

The first Grow Our Flock webinar for 2014 has been scheduled. Managing Your Pastures Better: Management Intensive Grazing (MIG) 101 will be offered on April 22 at 5 p.m. MDT (7 p.m. EST). Register now by going to https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/5755892051703340802. After registering, a confirmation email about joining the webinar will be sent.

Dr. Woody Lane
Sheep are magnificent animals that evolved to eat grass. A sheep's rumen allows it to thrive on high-fiber forage and effectively convert sunlight and atmospheric nitrogen into valuable human products like meat, wool and milk. But how can shepherds use sheep to harvest this forage in a profitable and sustainable way?

By grazing, shepherds can use sheep to harvest this forage in a profitable and sustainable way. Good grazing requires knowledge and good technique. This webinar will discuss how forages grow, how to use sheep to manage forage in a sustainable and efficient way and the principles of MIG. By properly managing forages, feeding costs can be reduced, pastures improved, weeds reduced, break-even price reduced and profits increased.

The webinar is being hosted by  Dr. Jay Parsons from Colorado State University and Optimal Ag Consulting. The presenter is Dr. Woody Lane, a livestock nutritionist  and forage specialist from Lane Livestock Services.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Scrapie Update

The February 2014 report for the National Scrapie Eradication Program has been posted to www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/animal_diseases/scrapie/downloads/monthly_report.pdf. Published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), the report reviews the current progress of scrapie eradication in the United States.

Sheep with scrapie (image from Colorado State University)
Since the start of Regulatory Scrapie Slaughter Surveillance (RSSS) in fiscal year (FY) 2003, there has been a 90-percent decrease in the number of positive sheep found in samples at slaughter, adjusted for face color. As of Dec. 31, 2013, the percent of cull sheep found positive at slaughter and adjusted for face color was 0.015 percent.

Eight source flocks (including two goat herds) and three infected flocks were designated in FY 2013. One source flock and three infected flocks have been designed in FY 2014.

Before the United States may be declared "scrapie free," remaining cases must be found. Sheep and goats that are slaughtered outside the commercial slaughter facilities are being missed in the routine scrapie slaughter surveillance. Submission of samples from sheep/goats over 18 months of age found dead or euthanized on farms is critically important.

Without these submissions, scrapie-infected animals will go undetected, costing the sheep and goat industries anywhere from $10 million to $20 million annually. To learn more about submitting samples, visit www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/animal_diseases/scrapie/gen_submission.shtml.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Detemining the Age of Sheep and Goats

ATTRA, the National Sustainable Agriculture Network Information Service has developed a video that shows how to age sheep and goats by looking at their teeth.

ATTRA is a program developed and managed by the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT). The majority of funding for ATTRA is through a cooperative agreement with the United States Department of Agriculture's Rural Business-Cooperative Service.


Thursday, March 13, 2014

West Virginia Small Ruminant Performance Test

West Virginia University conducts a small ruminant performance test at its Reymann Memorial Farm near Wardensville. Up to 60 and 30 bucks will be accepted for the 2014 test.

Rams and bucks of any breed are eligible for the program. Rams/bucks from recognized breeds must be registered and registration papers must be furnished by July 30. Crossbred rams/bucks, including percentages, will also be accepted.

Rams/bucks must be born between January 1 and February 28, 2014. Preference will be given to West Virginia cooperators, but out-of-state consignments will be accepted, if space allows.

Completed nomination forms and fees are due May 1. The estimated testing cost is $100 per animal, and it is due at the time of delivery to the test site. Rams/bucks must be delivered to the test site on May 14.  The test will run from May 28 to July 30. A sale will be held on August 30.

The West Virginia test uses the GrowSafe system to record residual feed intake and determine feed efficiency.

Download letter to consignors
Download consignment form
Download guidelines

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

New Product: Electric Hoof Knife

The Electric Hoof Knife is the newest and most innovative tool available for trimming goat and sheep hooves. Designed to improve hoof health and make trimming hassle-free, the Electric Hoof Knife is a power tool that buffs instead of cuts to remove hoof material.

After eight years of development, the Electric Hoof Knife now has a disc created specifically for trimming goat and sheep hooves. This lightweight tool is easy to maneuver and can trim tough and overgrown hooves with little effort on part of the user. People who have limited access to electrical power can easily run the Electric Hoof Knife off of a generator or an automobile’s DC/AC power converter, so the tool is accessible anywhere, anytime.

The Electric Hoof Knife Goat & Sheep set, which retails for $254.95, comes with the Electric Hoof Knife power unit, two Goat & Sheep Trimming discs, a pair of safety glasses, and a carrying case.

For more information, or to watch videos of the Electric Hoof Knife in action, visit www.ElectricHoofKnife.com or call (877) 320-8203.

Friday, March 7, 2014

MPWV Spring Educational Conference.

The MPWV Meat Goat Producers Association and University of Maryland Extension will hold an educational event on Saturday, June 7, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Carroll County Ag Center in Westminster, Maryland.

Seminar topics will include: traditional veterinary and health care; selling your goats; pasture and nutrition; non-traditional goat health care; and the pros and cons of registering your goats. A separate educational track for youth is being planned. It will cover selecting, raising, and getting your kid(s) ready for the show and sale. Speakers will include veterinarians, extension agents, and experienced goat producers.

The day will begin with a very brief business meeting and discussion of upcoming events. The deadline for early registration is May 15. The registration fee is $10/person or $20/family for members and $15/person and $25/family for non-members. Registration paid at the door is $5 extra.

For more information, contact Pam Adams at (443) 802-3734 or pam.adams@hp.com or visit the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/MPWVMeatGoatProducers.

The MPWV* Meat Goat Producers Association was organized to promote the meat goat industry and provide its members with information to help them breed and market high quality meat goats. The association includes members from Maryland, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Membership dues are $35 for the first year and $20 for subsequent years.

*Maryland-Pennsylvania-West Virginia

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Herbal Dewormer Fails to Control Parasites

by Dr. Dahlia O'Brien
Virginia State University

Over the last few years, a number of studies have been done to test the effectiveness of commercially available herbal dewormers. Most recently, two studies were conducted at Delaware State University to test how effective Hoegger’s Herbal Wormer was in reducing fecal egg counts in meat goat kids and lactating does.

This dewormer is distributed by Hoegger’s Goat Supply (Fayetteville, GA) and contains a mixture of dried plant materials including wormwood, gentian, fennel, psyllium and quassia. Individually, these ingredients have all been reported to have possible deworming properties capable of reducing internal parasites in livestock. However, most of this information is anecdotal and not supported by scientific data.

So far, scientific studies evaluating commercial, non-chemical dewormers have found that they fail to reduce fecal egg counts in sheep and goats. The results from these two studies also supports that at the recommended dose and under the conditions of the studies, Hoegger’s Herbal Wormer was not an effective dewormer.

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