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Small Ruminant Parasite Management and FAMACHA Training Workshop

March 23rd, 2016 · No Comments

Rory Lewandowski, Extension Educator Wayne County and Crossroads EERA

An important aspect of small ruminant management is internal parasite control.   For a pasture based production system, parasite control is essential to profitability.  In this system, the parasite of greatest concern is Haemonchus contortus, commonly known as the barber pole worm.  Reliance upon a regular de-worming schedule for the flock or herd is not a reliable control strategy because most worm populations have developed resistance to some or all of the chemicals used for de-worming.

Over the past several years targeted selective deworming treatment of sheep and goats has been promoted as one way to avoid treating the entire flock or herd.  Selective treatment can slow down the process of the parasite acquiring chemical resistance and thereby prolong the effectiveness of those chemical de-wormers available to sheep and goat owners.  One tool that is being used to determine selective treatment is the FAMACHA system.  The FAMACHA system utilizes an eyelid scorecard that can help a farmer make a decision to treat or not to treat the animal with a chemical de-wormer.  The FAMACHA system is not a cure-all, or a silver bullet for dealing with internal parasites.  It is one tool that can be a part of an overall parasite control strategy.   In order for this tool to be effective it must be used correctly.

OSU Extension, Wayne County, the Ohio Heartland Sheep Improvement Association (OHSIA) and the Ohio Sheep and Wool program are sponsoring a “Small Ruminant Parasite Management and FAMACHA Training” workshop on Saturday, May 21st, 2016 from 9:30 am to 1:30 pm.  The workshop will take place on the Leroy Kuhns farm located at 8085 CR 235 Fredericksburg OH  44627.  The workshop will focus on classroom training in the morning to help participants learn about small ruminant parasite biology, lifecycle, how chemical resistance is acquired and parasite management control strategies including the use of the FAMACHA system.  After lunch workshop participants will be trained in the use of the FAMACHA system including hands-on practice using sheep.

The cost of the workshop is $25 for OHSIA members and $30 for non-members.  Registration cost included handout materials, lunch and a FAMACHA eyelid scorecard.  Registration cost for each additional person from the family or farm unit who attends is $15 for OHSIA members and $20 for non-members.  There is a workshop limit of 30 people.  Pre-registration is required and the registration deadline is May 13.

A workshop brochure and registration form is available on the Wayne County Extension at: http://go.osu.edu/agwayne .  For more information contact the Wayne County Extension office at 330-264-8722 or send an email to: lewandowski.11@osu.edu.


→ No CommentsTags: Health · Management · Parasites


August 10th, 2015 · No Comments

Rory Lewandowski, Extension Educator Wayne County

The Ohio State University – ATI, OSU Extension, and the Ohio Forage and Grasslands Council is sponsoring a 3-day Grazing Basics School on September 29, 30 and October 1 of 2015.  The school will be held at the Ohio State University ATI campus in Wooster.  The grazing basics school is designed for those who are new to grazing livestock and desire to improve their grazing management skills.   For those graziers with some experience the school offers the opportunity to brush up on skills or gain some additional knowledge.

The school is structured as a combination of morning classroom sessions with afternoon hands-on learning and practice.  There will be some optional evening sessions.   Instructors include OSU Extension educators, state specialists, ATI Instructors and industry professionals. Topics covered during morning sessions include: Understanding Pasture Plant Growth, Plant Species Selection, Soil Fertility, Matching Forages to Livestock Nutrient Needs, Minerals, Fencing, Water Systems, Stockpiling, and Economics. The afternoons include interactive sessions covering pasture measurement, paddock setup, livestock grazing, forage and weed identification, nutrient management, water and fencing systems.  These sessions will take place at the 1700 acre Ohio State ATI Grace Drake Learning Laboratory.   During these afternoon lab sessions, vendors including seed, feed, fencing and grazing water supply companies will be on hand to explain their products and facilitate some of the sessions.

The cost of the school is $150/person which includes continental breakfast, handouts, noon lunch and refreshments.  Pre-registration is required by September 22.  For more information about the grazing basics workshop including a registration form and lodging options, go to the Wayne County Extension web site at: http://go.osu.edu/2015OSUgrazingschool  or contact the Wayne County Extension office at 330-264-8722.

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2015 Sheep and Goat Webinar Series

January 22nd, 2015 · No Comments

Ohio State University Extension will be offering its Sheep and Goat Webinar Series again this year, focusing on “Tips for Productivity Improvement. Every Monday evening in February from 7-9 p.m. remote location throughout the state will host viewings of the webinar for that week. Locations and contacts for locations are listed below. Depending on the viewing location a reservation may be requested.

Series Dates and Topics

Feb. 2 – “Tips for Fine-Tuning your Flock/Herd FAMACHA Program.” Speaker: Clif Little, Ohio State University Extension, Guernsey County Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator.

Feb. 9 –  “Tips for Managing Major Sheep and Goat Diseases: OPP, CAE, Caseous Lymphadenitis, Johnes, Scrapie and Cache Valley Virus.” Speaker: Dr. Eric Gordon, Associate Professor, Ohio State Veterinary Clinical Medicine.

Feb. 16 – “Tips for Reducing Feed Losses From Silage and Hay.” Speaker: Dr. Bill Weiss, Ohio State Animal Sciences.

Feb. 23 – “Tips for Improving Lambing and Kidding Percentages: Management, Genetics and Selection.” Speaker: Susan Schoenian, University of Maryland Small Ruminant Specialist.

Follow ohiosheep.org or sheep.osu.edu for program changes and additional sites.

Remote Webinar Locations

Carroll County, Carroll County Extension Office, 613 North High Street, Carrollton, OH 44620 Site Coordinator, Sandy Smith, 330-627-4310, smith.10015@osu.edu

Coshocton County, Coshocton County Extension Office, 724 South 7th St., Coshocton, OH 43812 Site Coordinator, Emily Adams, 740-622-2265, adams.661@osu.edu

Coshocton County, TMK – New Bedford Store, 33874 St. Rt. 643, Fresno, OH 43824 Site Coordinator, Don Brown, 330-897-4320, don.pllc@gmail.com

Hancock County, Hancock County Extension Office, 7868 County Rd. 140, Findlay, OH 45840 Site Coordinator, Ed Lentz, 419-422-3851, lentz.38@osu.edu

Hardin County, Hardin County Extension Office, 1021 W. Lima St., Kenton, OH 43326 Site Coordinator, Mark Badertscher, 419-674-2297, badertscher.4@osu.edu 

Knox County, Knox County Extension Office, 160 Columbus Rd. Mt. Vernon, OH 43050 Site Coordinator, Sabrina Schirtzinger, 740-397-0401, schirtzinger.55@osu.edu 

Morrow County, Morrow County Extension Office, 871 W. Marion Rd., Mt. Gilead, OH 43338 Site Coordinator, Jeff McCutcheon, 419-947-1070, mccutcheon.30@osu.edu 

OSU Extension Regional Office and ERS Center, 16714 St. Rt. 215, Caldwell, OH 43724 Site Coordinator, Clif Little, Guernsey County, 740-489-5300, little.16@osu.edu Site Coordinator, Mark Landefeld, Monroe County, 740- 472-0810, landefeld.6@osu.edu Site Coordinator, Bre Pye, Noble County, 740-732-5681, pye.13@osu.edu Site Coordinator, Levi Morrow, Washington County, 740-376-7431, morrow.169@osu.edu Site Coordinator, Chris Penrose, Morgan Co., 740-962-4854, penrose.1@osu.edu 

Ross County, Ross County Service Center, 475 Western Ave, Chillicothe, OH 45601. Site Coordinator, Chris Bruynis, 740-702-3200, bruynis.1@osu.edu

Wayne County, OARDC, Room 130 Research Services, 1680 Madison Ave., Wooster, OH 44691 Site Coordinator, Rory Lewandowski, 330-264-8722, lewandowski.11@osu.edu 

Williams County, Williams County Extension Office, 1425 East High St. Bryan, OH 43506 Site Coordinator, Flo Chirra, 419-636-5608, chirra.1@osu.edu

View at home. If you prefer to view at your own own contact Jeff McCutcheon, Morrow County ANR Extension Educator at mccutcheon.30@osu.edu. There is a $20 service fee to view at home.

→ No CommentsTags: Breeding/Reproduction · Economics · Events · Health · Parasites

2014 Ohio Sheep Day

May 21st, 2014 · No Comments

The 2014 Ohio Sheep Day will be held on Saturday, July 12 at the Ray Family farm located in Noble County.  An added feature of this year’s event is an American Sheep Industry Eastern Region Predator Control Workshop that will be held in conjunction with Sheep Day on the Ray family farm.  For more details about the event including program topics, registration and directions to the farm see the following documents:


Ohio Sheep Day to be held July 12, 2014 at Ray Family Farm

By: Roger A. High, State Sheep Extension Associate and

The Ohio State University, Executive Director, Ohio Sheep Improvement Association and Ohio Sheep and Wool Program 

The 2014 Ohio Sheep Day is scheduled for Sat., July 12, 2014. It will be held at the Ray Family Farm, home of Shawn and Kim Ray and Family. The farm is located in beautiful Noble County, at 50725 Ray Ln., Cumberland, OH  43732. 

Ray Family Farm is a primarily grass based commercial sheep, goat, and cattle operation in the heart of Appalachia Ohio, concentrating their efforts on providing the highest quality forages to their livestock.   The farm is located in Southeastern Ohio where the terrain is very rough and rolling, making it an ideal location ruminant livestock production.

This year’s Ohio Sheep Day will once again focus on programming which will increase and improve the productivity and profitability of sheep and other small ruminant operations. This year’s program will also feature the ASI Eastern Region Predator Control Workshop, which is a workshop which will concentrate on controlling the primary species of predators in the east, Coyotes and Black vultures.

Below is a partial list of the programs that attendees will see at the 2014 Ohio Sheep Day includes:

      Eastern State Predator Programs and Philosophies

      Effective Use of Guard Animals for Predator Control

      Non-lethal Predator Control Methods

      Utilization of Trapping and Snaring Techniques

      Utilization of Livestock Protection Collars and M-44’s

      Basic Sheep Management Practices for the Beginner or Novice Shepherd

      Successful Agricultural Lime Application for Forages

      Successful Pasture Renovation

      Basics of Small Ruminant Pasture and Grazing Management

      Selection of Sheep Equipment

A trade show will also take place at the Ohio Sheep Day event, where attendees may visit and purchase supplies and equipment. This show will deal with several aspects of sheep production and management.

Ohio Sheep Day will offer visitors the opportunity to visit a successful sheep farming operation dedicated to sheep production in a profitable way. Sheep farmers and anyone interested in sheep management is cordially invited to attend.

Sheep producers will also receive great ideas about sheep nutrition, sheep management systems and many other areas of sheep production. A lamb luncheon is included as part of registration for the Ohio Sheep Day event. No pre-registration is necessary.  Registration cost is $10/person for OSIA members and $20 for non OSIA members.

For further questions regarding Ohio Sheep Day activities, please contact Roger A. High at (614) 246-8299 or by email at rhigh@ofbf.org. Additional Ohio Sheep Day information and directions to the site can be found on the Ohio Sheep Improvement Association website at www.ohiosheep.org.

Ohio Sheep Day is sponsored by the Ohio Sheep Improvement Association, Ohio Sheep and Wool Program, OSU Sheep Team, Ohio State University Extension, Ohio State University Animal Sciences Department, Pennsylvania Sheep and Wool Growers Association, USDA Wildlife Services and the American Sheep Industry.

Directions to the 2014 Ohio Sheep Day

Ray Family Farm: Shawn and Kim Ray, 50725 Ray Lane Cumberland Ohio  43732


TakeUS 250E toI-77S towardCambridge

Followfrom:Cambridge,OHdirectionstothe2014OhioSheep Day

From : Cambridge, OH

TakeI-77S towardMarietta,go for8.2mi

Takeexit#37/OH-313/Senecaville/Pleasant City.

Turn  right  onto  Clay Pike(OH-313),  go for 1.2  mi

Turn left  onto  Marietta Rd (OH-821),  go for 7.2 mi

Just after  small  white  block  Post  Office, turn right onto Rayner Rd (CR-12), go for  1.7  mi

Turn  right onto Ray Lane  (TR-96). go for 0.4  mi

You are at  the  Ray  Family Farm and the 2014 OSIA Ohio Sheep  Day.

From: Columbus, OH

TakeI-70E towardWheeling,fromReynoldsburg/Pataskalaexit,gofor57.3mi


Turn right  onto  SFriendshipDr  (OH-83),   go for  3.8  mi  Turnleft  onto  Clay  Pike (OH-313,OH-83),   go for  1.0mi  Bear  right onto Spencer  Rd  (OH-83),   go  for 6.2mi   In Cumberland ,Ohio  turn left  onto W  Main St (OH-146,OH-340),   go for 0.3 mi    At the four way stop by  Firehouse,  go straight  onto  E  Main  St.,   go for  0.2 mi   Continue  on  Perry’s Den  Rd  (CR-211),   go for 0.8  mi    Bear  right  onto Conner  Rd  (CR-2180),  go for  1.1  mi   Now  in  Noble County, continue on  Rayner  Rd  (CR-12), go for 1.6  mi   Turn  leftonto  Ray Lane  (TR-96),  go for  0.4 mi

You are at the  Ray Family Farm and the 2014 OSIA  Ohio Sheep  Day.

From: Marietta, OH

Take I-77 N toward Cleveland, go for 28.8 miles

Go past Caldwell ,Ohio unless spending  the night  before.  Take  exit#28/OH-821/BelleValley 

Turn right  onto  Marietta  RD (OH-821),   go for 4.1  mi   Turn  Left  on to  Rayner  Rd(CR-12),   go for 1.6  mi   Turn  left onto Ray Lane  (TR-96),   go for  0.4 mi

You  are at the Ray  Family Farm  and  the 2014 OSIA  Ohio Sheep  Day.

ASI Eastern Region Predator Control Workshop

By: Roger A. High, Executive Director, Ohio Sheep Improvement Association and Ohio Sheep and Wool Program 

Columbus, OH – The Ohio Sheep Improvement Association and the Pennsylvania Sheep and Wool Growers in cooperation with the American Sheep Industry will be hosting the ASI Eastern Region Predator Control Workshop this summer in Southeastern Ohio.   The ASI Eastern Region Predator Control Workshop is scheduled for Sat., July 12, 2014 in conjunction with the Ohio Sheep Day program. The program will be held at the Ray Family Farm, home of Shawn and Kim Ray and Family. The farm is located in beautiful Noble County, at 50725 Ray Lane, Cumberland, OH  43732. 

“One of the primary reasons that people are discouraged by the sheep business is predators, primarily coyotes and black vultures in the eastern states” states Roger A. High, Executive Director of the Ohio Sheep Improvement Association.  We are planning this workshop to cover a number of topics about predator control that will hopefully help the sheep farmers stay in sheep production.    With this predator control knowledge, we hope that we can improve and increase the productivity and profitability of sheep operations.  We will have a diverse group of speakers which will cover many different areas of predator control.

As part of the ASI Eastern Region Predator Control Workshop and Ohio Sheep Day event, a lamb luncheon is included as part of registration for the event. No pre-registration is necessary.

For further questions regarding the ASI Eastern Region Predator Control Workshop and Ohio Sheep Day activities, please contact Roger A. High at (614) 246-8299 or by email at rhigh@ofbf.org. Additional predator workshop and Ohio Sheep Day information and directions to the site can be found on the Ohio Sheep Improvement Association website at www.ohiosheep.org.

The ASI Eastern Region Predator Control Workshop and Ohio Sheep Day is sponsored by the Ohio Sheep Improvement Association, Pennsylvania Sheep and Wool Growers Association, Ohio Sheep and Wool Program, OSU Sheep Team, Ohio State University Extension, Ohio State University Animal Sciences Department, USDA Wildlife Services and the American Sheep Industry.

CONTACT: Roger A. High PHONE: (614) 246-8299 E-MAIL: rhigh@ofbf.org

→ No CommentsTags: Uncategorized


April 18th, 2014 · No Comments

            The Ohio Heartland Sheep Improvement Association (OHSIA) and the OARDC Sheep Unit are teaming up to sponsor a lambing school on Saturday May 10.  This date coincides with the OARDC Sheep Unit lambing calendar and there should be a number of recently born lambs along with ewes due to lamb that will provide participants with hands-on practice.  The lambing school will focus on both lambing and early lamb management.

Dr. Kristen Mierzwiak from East Holmes Veterinary Clinic in Berlin will be teaching the school.  During the morning session, Dr. Mierzwiak will cover care of the ewe and lamb from gestation through lambing and weaning.  Topics that will be addressed including nutrition, vaccinations, and handling lambing difficulties.   Following lunch participants will have the opportunity for hands on experience with castration, tail docking, and tube feeding lambs at the OARDC sheep unit.

For those who are interested, Rory Lewandowski will provide an overview and review of the FAMACHA eyelid scoring system to help sheep owners prepare for the summer parasite season.  FAMACHA is one of the tools that sheep producers can use within an integrated internal parasite control program to selectively deworm animals and minimize chemical resistance.

Pre-registration is requested by May 6th.  The cost of the lambing school is $20/person with a discounted rate of $10 for students and youth under the age of 16.  Registration includes lunch.  To register send a check payable to “OHSIA” to Velda Limbach at 14950 Stanwood Street SW, Dalton OH 44618, or call 330-833-7346 to reserve a spot in the school.   Sign in the day of the school, May 10th will begin at 8:30 am.  The program will start at 9:00 am and will conclude by 3:00 pm.  The OARDC Sheep Unit is located at 5743 Fredericksburg Road, Wooster OH  44691.

→ No CommentsTags: Management

Sheep and Goat Webinar Series

January 14th, 2014 · No Comments

Monday Evenings: February 3, 10, 17 and 24
7:00 pm to 9:00 pm each evening.  Sponsored by The Ohio Sheep Improvement Association, OSU Sheep Team and OSU Extension

Main Topic: Sheep and Goat Issues

February 3, 2014 – Roger A. High, The Ohio State University, “The Management Continuum and Success during the Lambing/Kidding  Time Period” 

February 10, 2014 – Jeff McCutcheon and Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension, “Successfully Producing Small Ruminants in a Forage Based System”

February 17, 2014 – Roger A. High and Tony Nye, The Ohio State University, “Sheep and Goat Breeds and Breed Types: Selecting the Right Breed Type for your Market”

 February 24, 2014 – Dr. Richard Ehrhardt, Michigan State University, “Management and Records –“What are the important records to make Key Management Decisions for your Sheep Flock or Goat Herd                                                        Remote Webinar Locations:

  • Butler County, Butler County Extension Office, Princeton Rd.,  Hamilton, OH  45011
  • Carroll County, Carroll County Extension Office, 613 North High Street, Carrollton, OH  44620
  • Coshocton County, Coshocton County Extension Office, 724 South 7th St., Coshocton, OH 43812
  • Coshocton County, TMK – New Bedford Store, 33874 St. Rt. 643, Fresno, OH  43824   
  • Fairfield County, Fairfield County Extension Office, 831 College Ave., Suite D, Lancaster, OH 43130           
  • Hancock County, Hancock County Extension Office, 7868 County Rd. 140, Findlay, OH  45840
  • Hardin County, Hardin County Extension Office, 1021 W. Lima St., Kenton, OH  43326
  • Huron County, Huron County Administration Building, Suite 1, 180 Milan Ave., Norwalk, OH  44857
  • Knox County, Knox County Extension Office, 160 Columbus Rd. Mt. Vernon, OH  43050
  • Licking County, Licking County Extension Office, Ag Center, 771 E. Main St., Newark, OH 43055
    • Site Coordinator, Ted Wiseman, (740) 670-5315, wiseman.15@osu.edu
    • Licking County will only host the February 3 and February 17, 2014 webinars
  • Mahoning County, Mahoning County Extension Office, 490 S. Broad St., Canfield, OH  44406
  • Morrow County, Morrow County Extension Office, 871 W. Marion Rd., Mt. Gilead, OH  43338
  • Muskingum County, Muskingum County Extension Office, 225 Underwood St., Zanesville, OH 43701
  • OSU Extension Regional Office and ERS Center, 16714 St. Rt. 215, Caldwell, OH 43724 
  • Perry County, Perry County Extension Office, 104 S. Columbus St., Somerset, OH 43783
    • Site Coordinator, Ted Wiseman, (740) 743-1602, wiseman.15@osu.edu
    • Perry County will only host the February 10 and February 24, 2014 webinars
  • Ross County, Greenfield High School Agriculture Education Room, 200 N. 5th St., Greenfield, OH 
  • Wayne County, OARDC, Room 130 Research Services, 1680 Madison Ave., Wooster, OH  44691
  • Williams County, Williams County Extension Office, 1425 East High St. Bryan, OH 43506
  • Sheep and Goat WebEx Series is a 4-part educational series; an individual can go to all or part of the programs.
  • Follow www.ohiosheep.org or http://sheep.osu.edu/ for program changes or additional remote sites.
  • Program Coordinator: Roger A. High, Ohio Sheep Improvement Association and OSU Extension, rhigh@ofbf.org

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CDT Vaccine

January 14th, 2014 · No Comments

Protect Sheep and Goats with CDT Vaccine

By Peggy Coffeen, Dairy/Livestock Editor

Failing to arm sheep and goats disease protection is a bit like heading into a tackle football game with no helmets or pads. Less protection means greater risk. Vaccines are an important component in suiting up small ruminants to hit the field – or pasture. At minimum, sheep and goats of all ages and stages should be protected from clostridial diseases.

Eric Gordon, DVM, Ohio State University, believes that clostridial diseases are the only group that all sheep and goats should be vaccinated against. He recommends using a three-way vaccine generically referred to as CDT, which protects against Clostridium perfringens type C and D and Clostridium tetani (tetanus). Eight-way vaccines are also on the market, but the three-way CDT is the core vaccine for sheep and goats.


The CDT vaccine is both inexpensive and very effective at preventing the quick and fatal consequences that can result from a clostridial infection. “The key here is vaccination and prevention rather than treatment because usually we are too late to treat it,” Gordon says.

Types C and D are the culprits of enterotoxemia. Type C is found around the farm in manure and soil. A young animal may ingest this strain while nursing a doe or ewe with a dirty or contaminated udder. Once inside the body, the bacteria grow rapidly and produce a toxin that results in rapid death.

Type D is the clostridial strain tied to overeating disease. While certain levels exist in the stomach, bacteria can proliferate in the small intestine when fast-growing lambs or kids ingest large amounts of feed, grain specifically. These toxins then enter the bloodstream, and the animal responds with body convulsions, jerky movements, salivation and coma. Death can occur in as little as 30 to 90 minutes.

When it comes to tetanus, wounds and lacerations are a conduit for the deadly bacteria to infect the body with deadly toxins. While puncture wounds incurred from in and around facilities are one way tetanus can infect the animal, surgical procedures like castration, docking and dehorning can also present a risk.

Based on his observations, Gordon believes that the method of castration matters when it comes to tetanus. He has seen a higher incidence of tetanus among animals that have been banded compared to those that were surgically cut. This is because the bacteria thrive in an anaerobic environment, which is created by the dead tissue that forms below the band. However, the infection risk from banding is reduced when animals are protected by a vaccine.


From babies to mommas and bucks, protecting against these swift and deadly clostridial infections is a wise choice. At a cost of roughly 30 cents per dose, it is a “pretty cheap and pretty effective” way in assure the health of your animals, Gordon notes. Following the vaccine protocol for kids and lambs and providing an annual booster through adulthood will provide optimal protection.

When ewes and does are vaccinated properly, they are able to pass on temporary protection to their vulnerable babies through colostrum. Gordon recommends that ewes and does be vaccinated in the last month of pregnancy. For first-time moms, he suggests giving two shots – one six weeks prior to lambing or kidding, followed by another three weeks prior. This puts the maximum amount of antibody in colostrum for the lamb or kid.

When the immunization status of the mother is unknown or uncertain, the best bet for disease prevention is to vaccinate the baby at one to three weeks of age, followed by two booster shots, each given at four week intervals.

For properly vaccinated babies, he recommends administering the CDT vaccine at about eight to 12 weeks of age. If the ewe or doe was properly vaccinated, her colostrum will provide good protection up to that point. The timing should also be a week or two prior to castrating or docking.

And don’t forget about the boys. Gordon suggests hitting rams and bucks with a CDT vaccine about a month before going into the breeding pens. “That’s when most likely to get injured, and injury can lead to clostridial infection,” he notes.


“Vaccines shouldn’t be a Band-Aid for poor management,” adds Gordon. There are other ways to improve immune function other than vaccinations, and they are just as important. Reducing animal stress and providing good nutrition, clean bedding and housing, ventilation and an ample water source are basic things that do wonders for animal health. Practicing good hygiene by keeping animals clean and dry will also help prevent the spread of clostridial diseases.

“If we do [these things], it’s amazing what the animal can fight off on its own,” he states. “Coupled along with the vaccination program, that is the answer.”


Reprinted with permission www.agriview.com


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Colostrum Management

January 14th, 2014 · No Comments

The Importance of Colostrum Management

Dr. Cassandra Plummer, DVM

Small Ruminant Veterinarian, Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine

As we find breeding season winding to a close it is time to start making preparations for lambing season to begin. When preparing for lambing, one thing to consider is your plan for colostrum management. How are you going to get colostrum into your lambs? What if a ewe doesn’t have colostrum? How will you handle orphan lambs or bottle lambs? All of these things need to be considered prior to the start of lambing. 

To start out with, what is colostrum? Colostrum is defined as the first milking after lambing and contains high levels of antibodies to provide a source of immunity to the lamb. All lambs are born without a functional immune system and it takes about 30 days for their immune system to become fully functional. During that time, they rely on the antibodies from their dam that they receive through colostrum to help protect them from infections. During the first 24 hours of life the lamb is able to absorb antibodies from the intestinal tract, however the absorption starts to decline after about 12 hours. After the initial 24 hours, the intestinal tract no longer allows absorption of antibodies. Without colostrum being consumed during the first 24 hours, the lamb will have very little immune function, and therefore will be highly susceptible to infections. As you can see, colostrum plays a vital role in the health of your newborn lambs.

Nature’s method for a lamb to get colostrum is to suckle the colostrum from their dam. There are several important things to think about here. Is the lamb able to suckle? Is it able to stand and find the teat? Is there colostrum in the udder? Do the teats work? Another thing to check is if there are plugs in the ends of the teats. In some ewes there are plugs that form in the ends of the teats to help prevent the colostrum from leaking out prior to lambing. Sometimes these plugs can be hard for the newborn lamb to remove via suckling. It is a good practice when you have a ewe that has just lambed, to check her udder, make sure there is colostrum in the udder and strip a couple drops out of each teat to make sure that there are no plugs present and that the teats are functional. Also, as we increase prolificacy and see a higher number of triplets and quads, we need to consider if the ewe has enough colostrum for all of her lambs. With a set of triplets or quads, you may need to consider pulling 1-2 lambs for bottle raising, as well as to ensure adequate colostrum intake for all the lambs. Not all ewes will be able to produce enough colostrum to supply 3 or 4 lambs.  Then the next step is going to be to observe the lamb for suckling and making sure that it is filling its belly.     

If you have determined that a lamb is unable or unwilling to suckle its dam, then you may need to intervene to ensure that that lamb gets adequate colostrum. First we need to consider where we are going to get the colostrum from. We have several possible sources to consider. The best source of colostrum is from the lamb’s ewe. If the issue is a weak lamb that is unable to suckle or stand, then consider milking the ewe out for some colostrum and feeding that to the lamb. If the ewe’s colostrum supply is the issue then we will need to consider a colostrum donor. When looking at a colostrum donor, your best donor will be older animals that have lambed previously because they will produce higher quality colostrum than nulliparous ewes. Another thing to consider is the health status of your donor. There are several diseases that can be spread through colostrum such as OPP, Johne’s, and mycoplasma. Therefore, if you know the health status of your ewes, it is important to select a colostrum donor that is negative for these diseases if possible. If you do not have access to ewe colostrum, then goat or cow colostrum are good alternatives. If you have a dairy down the road, they may be willing to give you some colostrum from their cows or goats. With cow or goat colostrum, you do still need to be concerned about disease transmission. Disease’s such as Johne’s disease can be transmitted to sheep through cow or goat colostrum. In regards to disease transmission, there are heat treatment protocols for colostrum that are practiced in some cow and goat dairies. Heat treatment of colostrum deceases the risk of disease transmission through colostrum and may be something to consider in valuable animals with any donor colostrum whether ewe, goat, or cow colostrum.

Once you have colostrum, we need to consider colostrum storage if the colostrum is not going to be used immediately. Colostrum can be stored in a standard refrigerator if it is going to be used within 24 hours. If it is going to be over 24 hours before it is used, then it is recommended to store colostrum in the freezer. Prior to freezing, colostrum should be double-bagged in freezer bags and labeled with the donor’s ID, date of collection, and any disease status information that you have. Once frozen, colostrum can be stored in the freezer for up to 1 year. When feeding colostrum to a newborn, it is recommended to warm the colostrum to body temperature. Therefore, stored colostrum will need to be warmed prior to feeding. The recommended method to thaw frozen colostrum and warm colostrum is to place the bags or bottles in lukewarm water. Do not heat colostrum in the microwave or use hot water. These methods will destroy all of the important antibodies in the colostrum.


Now that we have colostrum and have it warmed up, we need to consider how to get that colostrum into the lamb. The best method to get the colostrum into the lamb, aside from suckling from their dam, is via a bottle. The act of suckling increases the antibody absorption. There are several different lamb nipples available and each lamb has their preferences. We find that that the Prichard nipples are the nipples they are most likely to suckle, but if the lamb won’t suckle from a Prichard nipple it is worth trying another style nipple. Ideally we want to get 10% body weight of colostrum into a lamb in the first 12-24 hours. Therefore for a 10 pound lamb, we would want to get approximately 16 fl. oz. of colostrum into them in the first 12-24 hours. Of course this needs to be spread out over several feedings.  While the bottle is best, if a lamb has not taken any colostrum within 2-3 hours of birth, we recommend tubing them with several ounces of colostrum and trying the bottle again at the next feeding.


As you can see, colostrum management is an important factor in the overall health of your lambs. Research has shown that failure of passive transfer from lack of colostrum intake has long-term effects. Research in cows and sheep has shown decreased average daily gains and increased mortality in feedlots associated with failure of passive transfer. Ensuring adequate colostrum intake in your lambs will increase the overall health of your lambs and the added work will pay off with lots of healthy lambs.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in the Dec. 2008 Lamb & Wool newsletter.  Due to the importance of colostrum and the completeness of the article it is worthy of re-printing.

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LAMB 509 Is Back

November 22nd, 2013 · No Comments

Sheep producers can learn innovative new techniques to produce consistent, high quality lamb and how to better market their specialty meats during a two-day course Dec. 17-18. The course will be taught by livestock experts from Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) and industry experts.

 The Lamb 509 short course is designed to help producers increase sales and improve their financial bottom line through hands-on training in the value-determining factors that influence prices received for market lambs and lamb products, said Roger A. High, an Ohio State University Extension state sheep program specialist and executive director of the Ohio Sheep Improvement Association (OSIA)

 Sponsored by OSU Extension, CFAES’ Department of Animal Sciences, the Ohio Sheep and Wool Program, and OSIA, the course is part of an ongoing effort to equip sheep producers with helpful, up-to-date information they use to continue to improve their operations, he said.

 OSU Extension is the outreach arm of CFAES.

 The course will offer information to help producers better understand what consumers are looking for when purchasing quality lamb products and how to market to those consumers, High said.

 “The class is designed to enhance producers’ understanding of meat quality and marketing to help them make more informed decisions that can impact the profitability, competitiveness and wholesomeness of the food products they produce,” he said.

 The course is from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Dec. 17 and from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 18 and will be held at 2029 Fyffe Road in the Animal Sciences Building on Ohio State’s Columbus campus. The program is open to beginner, intermediate and advanced sheep and goat producers, High said.

 Participants will learn about muscle quality attributes affecting lamb, as well as the management, environmental, nutritional, and genetic factors that contribute to muscle quality deficiencies, he said. They will also learn about the links in the production chain between the producer and the consumer and the interaction among these links, High said.

 Other workshop topics will include:

 Live animal evaluation

  • Ultrasound evaluation and demo
  • Grid pricing
  • Lamb harvest
  • Grading procedures
  • Carcass and retail fabrication
  • Processing and product development
  • Retail product discussion
  • Open discussion
  • Review live, carcass, and retail values

 Registration information can be found at http://www.ohiosheep.org. Registration includes the program, all meals, materials and parking. Registration is $125 per person by Nov. 25. 

For more information on the Lamb 509 Program, contact High at 614-246-8299.

Written by Tracy Turner, CFAES CommTech

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Ethnic Marketing of Lamb & Mutton An Educational Program for US Sheep Producers – 2013

October 29th, 2013 · No Comments

Sheep producers across the country are invited to participate in a 4-session webinar series that is designed to help them explore the feasibility of marketing lamb and mutton to ethnic consumers.

This educational outreach has been jointly designed by Richard Brzozowski of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension; Susan Schoenian of the University of Maryland Extension; and Roger High of Ohio State University through a grant from the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) to the state sheep associations of Maine, Maryland and Ohio. The series is free to anyone who wishes to participate.

The purpose of this multi-state effort is to equip sheep producers with skills and knowledge for effective marketing of sheep/lamb meat to ethnic communities in their respective market areas.

This outreach will be accomplished via a webinar series (broadcast live and then archived) and will supplemented by readings, self-driven activities, assignments and group discussions. Producers are encouraged to participate in each of the four sessions for a complete educational experience.

By the end of the series, webinar participants will be expected to . . .
1. Identify lamb consuming ethic populations in their area by performing a demographic analysis of specific ethnicities using census data and other sources.
2. Learn about the ethnic consumers as well as the specific holy days and holidays when lamb is customarily preferred and the demand for lamb /mutton or specific value-added products is typically high.
3. Evaluate their production system to determine needed changes in breed(s), carcass size, lambing time and or management to meet this market if deemed feasible.
4. Adapt or create a marketing plan as a part of a business plan for their sheep operation to include an ethnic component (if appropriate)
5. Successfully answer an ethnic lamb marketing quiz with a score of at least 80%.

Each session is scheduled for 60-90 minutes in length and includes time for questions. Each session is scheduled to begin at 7:00 pm (eastern) and will feature sheep marketing experts. The schedule for the free webinar series is as follows:
Session 1 – Ethnic Market Background – Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Session 2 – Understanding the Ethnic Consumer – Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Session 3 – Understanding & Evaluating Your Market Options Tuesday, December 3, 2013
Session 4 – Your Marketing Plan – Tuesday, December 10, 2013

All sessions will be archived for later viewing. This series will also be useful for goat producers.

To register for this free series and for more information about specific sessions, instructors and other related information go to http://umaine.edu/livestock/sheep/ethnic-marketing-of-lamb-and-mutton/

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