Sunday, April 20, 2014

FAMACHA© Workshop at Festival

There will be a FAMACHA©/Integrated Parasite Management Workshop at the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival. The workshop will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday, May 2, 2014.

The instructor for the workshop will be Susan Schoenian, Sheep & Goat Specialist for University of Maryland Extension. All aspects of internal parasites and their control will be covered in the workshop. The workshop will consist of two hours of lecture and discussion, and two hours of hands-on instruction (FAMACHA© and fecal egg counting). Participants (over the age of 16) will be certified in the use of the FAMACHA© eye anemia system.

The registration fee is $50 per person, family, or farm. The registration fee includes a laminated FAMACHA© card and a booklet of reference materials.

Register online at

Friday, April 18, 2014

Goat Artificial Insemination Clinic

There will be a Goat Artificial Insemination (AI) Clinic on May 16-17 at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) in Princess Anne.

Ms. Teresa Wade from BIO-Genics, LTD will be the instructor for the two-day event. The workshop will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on both days. On the first day, students will spend the day in the classroom. On the second day, students will practice AI with does at the UMES small ruminant farm.

Class size is limited to 14. The registration fee is $175 per student. After the clinic, ten AI kits used during the clinic will be available for purchase for $80. The kits will include everything a goat producer needs to successfully perform AI.

For more information, contact Dr. Nelson Escobar at (410) 651-7930 or

Online registration will be available at

Accepting Nominations for 2014 Goat Test

The nomination period for the 2014 Western Maryland Pasture-Based Meat Goat Performance Test is open. The deadline to receive nominations is May 15. All nominations received by the deadline will be treated equally. It is not necessary to designate specific goats at the time of nomination.

Any breed is accepted.
The purpose of the test is to evaluate the performance of meat goat bucklings consuming a pasture-only diet, with natural exposure to gastro-intestinal parasites, primarily Haemonchus contortus. Bucks meeting Gold, Silver, or Bronze Standards of Performance for growth, parasite resistance, and parasite resilience and minimum standards for structural corrrectness and reproductive soundness are eligible for the sale.

The test is open to any goat breeder from any state with any breed of goat. Eligible male goats must have been born between December 15, 2013, and March 15, 2014, and weigh between 35 and 70 lbs. upon delivery to the test site on Friday, May 30.

The goats most likely to perform well in the test are those that have not been fed for maximum gain and those that have had previous exposure to gastro-intestinal parasites (especially Haemonchus contortus). Deworming suppresses the animal's natural ability to develop immunity to parasites.

Questions about this year's test should be directed to Susan Schoenian at (301) 432-2767 x343 or Nomination packets can be requested (by mail) by contacting Pam Thomas at x315 or

Letter to consignors
Guidelines and protocol
Nomination Form

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Spring 2014 Wild & Woolly

The Spring 2014 issue of Wild & Woolly has been posted to the web. Wild & Woolly is a newsletter for sheep and goat producers and anyone else interested in small ruminants. It is published quarterly by University of Maryland Extension and the Western Maryland Research & Education Center.

Read about the National Sheep Improvement Program (NSIP) in this issue.
You can subscribe to the newsletter listserv, so you'll receive an e-mail message when a new issue of the newsletter has been posted to the web. To subscribe, send an e-mail message to In the body of the message, write subscribe sheepandgoatnews.

HTML version of Spring 2014 issue
PDF (printer-friendly) version of Spring 2014
Archive of previous issues

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Virginia Tech Southwest AREC Ram Test

2014 will be the third year of the Virginia Tech Southwest AREC Ram Test. Registered rams, of any breed, born between January 15 and March 15 are eligible. Consignments are due May 10. Ram delivery is June 2. The test is open to any breeder in the US.

After a 3-week acclimation period, the rams will be evaluated for 70 days. While on test, the rams will have continuous access to high quality fescue-based pasture. They will be supplemented on a daily basis with concentrate at a rate of 3% of their body weight.

At the start of the test period, the rams will receive an oral dose of 3rd stage Haemonchus contortus larvae, appropriate for their body weight (5,000 infective larvae will be the standard dose).  Rams harboring resistant parasites will not be allowed to participate in the test.

Rams fed for high rates of gain prior to delivery will likely not perform as well on test; and rams that have not had prior exposure to internal parasites may not be able to fully express their potential for parasite resistance.

A sale and field day will be held on Saturday, September 27.  A target number of 40 rams will be sold. A consignor cannot sell more than one half of his/her rams.

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:

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 (or via fax at (301) 432-4089). Online registration is possible at

For more information, contact Susan at (301) 432-2767 x343 or visit the web site at

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
For links to the webinar series on marketing lamb and mutton to ethnic consumers, go to

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

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 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 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 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

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.