Thursday, February 4, 2016

2016 Goat Performance & Carcass Contest

The 2016 Western Maryland Pasture-Based Meat Goat Performance Test will feature a Goat Performance & Carcass Contest. The purpose of the contest is to collect performance and carcass data from meat goats fed a moderate energy diet and to recognize producers whose goats excel in performance and carcass merit.

Jeff Semler
The contest is open to all consignors. Consignors must have a least one goat in the test in order to enter a goat in the contest. Contest goats must have a litter mate or half-sib in the test. There is no cost to enter. The test will cover the cost of feed, health care, slaughter, and data collection. A minimum of 10 goats and a maximum of 15 is needed to hold the contest.

The criteria for contest goats is the same as test goats. The contest goats will be housed in a zero-grazing pen with ample room for exercise and social interaction. They will be fed hay and grain: approximately 2 lbs. per head per day of a mixed alfalfa-grass hay and 1 lb. per head per day day of whole barley. They will be harvested to collect carcass data.

Goat Performance & Carcass Contest Procedures

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Increase Your Lamb Crop

Best Practices to Increase Your Lamb Crop highlights twelve best management practices that will help sheep producers gain efficiency and improve profitablity. Because production systems vary, it is suggested that most sheep producers should be able to adopt at least three best management practices. Each of the best management practices will be the focus of a more detailed fact sheet that will be available in 2016 from the US Lamb Resource Center at

The landmark American Lamb Industry Roadmap Project established productivity improvement as one of four goals which must be accomplished in order to strengthen the short-term and long-term competitive advantage of the American lamb industry and return it to consistent profitability. Increasing the reproductive efficiency of U.S. sheep flocks has been identified as the best way to meet growing supply needs. It also has a direct link to profitability

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Ram Buying Guide

The National Sheep Improvement Program (NSIP) has published a Ram Buying Guide. The guide takes producers though the process of evaluating their current production levels, establishing goals for productivity, and selecting rams using EBVs to help achieve those goals.  EBVs are a much strong selection tool than raw data and centralized testing.

Selecting breeding rams is arguably the most important decision a sheep producer needs to make. After 4 generations, over 90% of the flock’s genetics are contributed by the ram. Therefore, careful consideration needs to go into each breeding decision.

The Ram Buying Guide can be downloaded from the NSIP web site at

Monday, February 1, 2016

Diet May Affect Gender

Feeding ewes a diet high in omega-3 would appear to lead to a higher proportion of male lambs, while an increase in female lambs occurs when the bulk of the feed is omega-6.

These are the findings of a study at Wagga Wagga Agricultural Institute in southern New South Wales (Australia). The study began in 2009 with 300 ewes building to just over 1,500. Ewes were fed their respective diets for either six weeks prior to joining only or both six weeks prior to and three weeks following joining.

"Grain for girls, pasture for boys."
"What it has shown is that if we feed a diet based on omega-3, which is similar to what we get when we feed pasture, we get more male lambs," the researcher explained. He said future research may also look at enhancing the rams' diet.

Male lambs with their faster growth rate are attractive for prime lamb producers while those looking to bolster future flock numbers lean toward female lambs.

Link to original article

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Winter 2016 Wild & Woolly

The Winter 2016 issue of Wild & Woolly has been published to the web. Wild & Woolly is a quarterly newsletter for sheep and goat producers and anyone else interested in small ruminants. It is published by University of Maryland Extension.

The 12-page newsletter is available in several convenient formats.

HTML -!winter2016/c13lk

You can subscribe to a listserv to receive notification when a new issue of the newsletter has been posted to the web.  To subscribe to the newsletter listserv, send an e-mail message to In the body of the message, write subscribe sheepandgoatnews

To receive the newsletter via mail, send a $10 check payable to the University of Maryland to Sheep & Goat Newsletter, Western Maryland Research & Education Center, 18330 Keedysville Road, Keedysville, MD  21756.

Newsletter archive

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Recap of 2015 Buck Test

2015 was the 10th year of the Western Maryland Pasture-Based Meat Goat Performance Test, which is conducted at the University of Maryland's Western Maryland Research & Education Center in Keedysville. The purpose of the test is to evaluate the post-weaning performance of meat goat bucklings consuming a pasture-based diet, with natural exposure to internal parasites, primarily the barber pole worm.

Kiko buck grazing clover
Eighty-four (84) mostly Kiko bucks were consigned to the 2015 test. They were consigned by 25 breeders from 12 states, including Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Vermont, and Virginia.  Ten were first-time consignors.

The ten top-performing bucks were selected at the end of the test. The top-performing buck was a commercial Kiko consigned by Randy & Jodie Mazancsik from Kentucky. It was the second year in a row that they had the top-performing buck.  David Peters had two bucks in the top 10. He was named top consignor, an award given to the consignor with the three best bucks in the test. 

The 2015 Test was dedicated to the memory of long-time consignors Merritt "Sam" Burke from Delaware and Craig Adams from Illinois. Both men passed away in 2015. Each had consigned many top-performing bucks. In fact, Craig had one of the top-performing bucks in the 2015 test.

The progress reports and summary reports from the 2015 year's test can be downloaded from!goattest/cbev. Reports from previous tests are available at the same site. 

Read Full Recap of 2015 Test 

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Sheep & Goat Workshop in Spring, PA

There will be a sheep and goat workshop on Saturday, January 23, 2016, from 1 to 3 p.m. The workshop will be held at the Springs Meeting Hall in Springs, Pennsylvania.

Workshop topics include nutritional diseases of pregnant females and parasite control strategies. the primary speaker will be Susan Schoenian, Sheep & Goat Specialist for University of Maryland Extension.

The workshop is being hosted by the Dr. Wendy Guingrich and the Casselman Veterinary Service in Grantsville, Maryland. To register for the workshop, contact the Garrett county Extension Office at (301) 334-6960 or

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

2016 Maryland Shearing School

The 2016 Maryland Sheep Breeders Association (MSBA) Sheep Shearing School will be held Friday and Saturday, April 15-16 (Friday and Saturday), 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Ridgely Thompson's farm at 1942 Uniontown Road, Westminster, MD 21157.

The school is open to anyone in Maryland, Delaware and surrounding states who wants to learn to shear sheep. Ownership of sheep or a desire to become a commercial shearer is preferred. Participation is limited to 15 people. The minimum age is 16.

The New Zealand method of shearing will be taught. Shearing machines will be provided. Blade shearing will not be taught. Instructors are Aaron Geiman and Emily Chamelin-Hickman. Aaron is an Agriscience teacher at North Carroll High School. Emily is a professional shearer.

The registration fee is $100 per person and includes a copy of ASI's Sheep Shearing Notebook, instructional DVD, and wall chart. Pre-registration is required. No registrations will be accepted after April 1.  Checks should be made payable to the Maryland Sheep Breeders Association, Inc. and mailed to Aaron Geiman at 429 Hook Road, Westminster,  Maryland  21157.

Download registration form

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Dairy Goat Ration Evaluator

The Maryland Dairy Goat Ration Evaluator allows you to evaluate rations for dairy goats. The Excel spreadsheet determines if a dairy goat's requirements for energy (TDN), protein (CP), calcium (Ca), and phosphorus (P) are being met based on the amount and nutritional composition of feeds being fed.

The spreadsheet utilizes the latest nutritional requirements for dairy goats from the National Research Council (NRC, 2007).  Rations for dry, pregnant, and lactating does can be evaluated. There are separate requirements for does being parlor-milked. Rations can also be evaluated for doe, wether, and buck kids and mature bucks. The current spreadsheet utilizes pounds for measurements. A spreadsheet using metric measurements is in the works.

Download spreadsheets from Maryland Small Ruminant Page

Thursday, November 5, 2015

2016 Winter Webinar Series

The University of Maryland Extension Small Ruminant Program will be hosting a webinar series (for small ruminant producers) on consecutive Thursday evenings from February 4 through March 10, 2016. The title of the webinar series (short course) is Special Topics. It will cover a variety of topics and be presented by speakers from several states and institutions.

All webinars will begin at 7 p.m. EST and last for approximately one hour, followed by a question and answer period. Interaction will be via a chat box. Presentations will be recorded and made available for later viewing via Adobe Connect or YouTube. PowerPoint presentations will be uploaded to SlideShare.

Date Topic Speaker Affiliation
Feb 4 Toxic plants Jeff Semler University of Maryland
Feb 11 EBVs for beginners Susan Schoenian University of Maryland
Feb 18 Vitamin and mineral nutrition Dr. Dan Morrical Iowa State University
Feb 25 Sericea lespedeza Dr. Tom Terrill Fort Valley State University
Mar 3 The Big Five Dr. Gareth Bath University of Pretoria (SA)
Mar 10 Natural dewormers Dr. Dahlia O'Brien Virginia State University

Anyone with an internet connection (high speed access recommended) may participate in the live webinars.  Pre-registration is not required. There is no cost involved. Log-in instructions will be provided via a listserv. To subscribe to the webinar listserv, send an email message to In the body of the message, write:  subscribe sheepgoatwebinars
Participation is limited to the first 100 people who log-on.

The highlight of the 2016 series will be a presentation by Dr. Gareth Bath from the University of Pretoria in South Africa. Dr. Bath was one of the scientists who developed the FAMACHA© system and Five Point Check©. His presentation will be entitled, The Big Five. He will discuss the five important aspects of internal parasite control:  animals, parasites, pasture, monitoring, and treatment. Because of the time difference involved, Dr. Bath's presentation will not be at 7 p.m. EST.

The University of Maryland Extension Small Ruminant Program has been doing webinar short courses since 2011. The webinars have covered various aspects of sheep and goat production:  nutrition, management, breeding, health, and pasture. Links to these webinars are available at!webinars/cu81.

Download program flyer

Monday, November 2, 2015

Working with a Veterinarian

by Linda Coffey

Sheep and goat producers frequently comment that it is difficult to find a veterinarian who is willing and able to help with health care for their animals. Producers also remark that profits are slim and paying for a veterinarian is just too expensive.

Photo:  Grace Rathert
It is true that many health-care tasks can and should be done by the producer. However, veterinarians have specialized knowledge and are trained to investigate, diagnose, and treat illness.  Also, many medications are not legal to use UNLESS you have a valid relationship with a veterinarian.

A veterinarian can teach producers how to perform health care procedures properly.  And a veterinarian who will listen and is willing to learn and study further will soon develop strong competency with small ruminants and can actually save you money and help you provide better care for your animals.

Finding a veterinarian who will support you as a herd-health partner will pay dividends.

Source:  Timely Topic from web site of American Consortium for Small Ruminant Parasite Control.

Read full article at!workwithvet/c1uis.

Download tip sheet from NCAT-ATTRA

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Fall 2015 Wild & Woolly

The Fall 2015 issue of Wild & Woolly is now available on the web. It is available in several formats:  HTML and PDF. It is also published on ISSUU.  Previous issues of the newsletter may be downloaded from!newsletter/cno0.

Valais Blacknose sheep
Image credit: Whitehall (UK)
Wild & Woolly is a newsletter for sheep and goat producers and anyone else interested in small ruminant production. It is published quarterly by the University of Maryland's Western Maryland Research & Education Center.

You can subscribe to the newsletter listserv, so you'll get an email message whenever a new issue has been posted to the web. To subscribe, send an e-mail to In the body of the message, write subscribe sheepandgoat news. To unsubscribe, send an e-mail to the same address, but write unsubscribe instead of subscribe.


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Register Now for Lambing & Kidding School

Registration is now open for the 2015 Lambing & Kidding School to be held Saturday, December 5 at North Harford High School in Pylesville, Maryland.

The day-long program will feature separate educational tracks for adults and youth (ages 8-18). The keynote speaker for the adult program will be Dr. Richard Ehrhardt. The youth program will be mostly hands-on.

Dr. Richard Ehrhardt
Dr. Ehrhardt is the Small Ruminant Specialist at Michigan State University. In addition to working with both large and small-scale producers, Dr. Ehrhardt is involved in the training of veterinary students. Other speakers will include Susan Schoenian, Karen Holloway, Sara Meager BhaduriHauck, Dwayne Murphy, Chris Anderson, Dr. Angela Black, Dr. Mara Mullinix, and Dan Severson.

The pre-registration deadline for the school is November 20. The registration fee is $40 per adult and $30 per youth (age 8-18).  The registration fee will include morning refreshments, lunch, door prizes, and resource materials (on a flash drive). There is an additional charge of $10 to receive resource materials in a notebook (binder). Youth will be charged an additional $20 if they want to make a feeder and halter in the first session. The $20 will cover some of the material cost.

You can register online line via EventBrite at You can pay by credit card, but there is a small fee to do so. Alternatively, you can mail your registration information and payment to Lambing & Kidding School, Western Maryland Research & Education Center, 18330 Keedysville Road, Keedysville, Maryland 21756. Checks should be made payable the University of Maryland.

For more information, go to!2015lambkidschool/c5y1.

Download registration form