Monday, August 18, 2014

Value-Added Products is Theme of Field Day

Value-added products is the theme of the 2014 Virginia State University (VSU) Small Ruminant Field Day, to be held Friday, September 19, 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., at VSU's Randolph Farm in Petersburg, Virginia.

Dr. Paul Kuber
Speakers will include Dr. Paul Kuber from Ohio State University. Dr. Kuber will speak about small ruminant production and processing. Patricia Knight, owner of Nana's Dream Farm & Apiary will speak about small ruminant dairy production and processing. Theresa Nartea from Virginia Cooperative Extension will explain practical techniques for strategic marketing for small ruminant  products.

Afternoon activities will include small ruminant meat and dairy sample tastings, demonstrations of various  management practices, and the chance to learn about ongoing research projects  by VSU's Small Ruminant faculty.

The pre-registration deadline is September 12. The registration fee is $10 per person.You can register online at For registration information, contact Mollie Klein at or (804) 524-5906. For field day particulars, contact Dr. Dahlia O’Brien, VSU Small Ruminant Extension Specialist at or (804) 524-6963.

The event is also sponsored locally by Heretick Feed & Seed Company and Southern States Cooperative, both of Petersburg, Virginia.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Virginia Tech Sheep Production Sale

The 15th Annual Virginia Tech Sheep Center Production sale will be held on Saturday, August 30, 2014, at the Alphin-Stuart Livestock Arena on the campus of Virginia Tech.

The sale offering will include Suffolk and Dorset ram lambs, along with Suffolk and Dorset ewe lambs. More information can be found on the Sheep Center web site.

Proceeds from the sale will be used to support the sheep teaching, extension, and research missions of the Department of Animal & Poultry Sciences.

Should I Use LongRange™ Dewormer?

Should I consider using LongRange™ dewormer for parasite control in small ruminants? The answer is a clear NO! This product should not be used in small ruminants for routine parasite control.

An article, by Dr. Ray Kaplan, will address the reasons why this is so.

Read article at

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Webinar: Understanding Sheep Nutrition

Understanding Sheep Nutrition is the title of a webinar to be held August 26, 2014, at 8 p.m. EST. The  presenter is Dr. Dan Morrical, Sheep Extension Specialist at Iowa State University.

The webinar will focus on key nutrients that sheep need in their rations, including protein, energy, vitamins, and minerals, as well as the software available to perform the necessary calculations. Time will be allotted to explain terminology like dry matter and asfed, parts per million, and milligrams per kilogram. Reading feed tags to understand what is in a ration will also be covered.

The webinar is being hosted by Dr. Jay Parsons from the University of Nebraska and Optimal Ag. It is sponsored by the American Sheep Industry Association's Rebuild the Sheep Industry Committee.

To register for the webinar, go to

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

VA Performance Tested Ram Lamb Sale

The 39th Annual Virginia Performance Tested Ram Lamb Sale and Replacement Ewe Lamb Sale will be held Saturday, August 23, 2014, at the Virginia Sheep Evaluation Station in Steele's Tavern, Virginia.

Virginia Tech Image
A Sheep Field Day will be held in conjunction with the sale. It will begin at 10:30 a.m. Topics include breeding season management strategies, ram care and nutrition, lamb marketing, and animal health and scrapie program update. Lunch will be available on site.

The Performance Tested Ram Sale, followed by the Ewe Lamb Sale, will begin at 1 p.m. Ram lambs offered through the Virginia Performance Tested Ram Lamb Sale have recently completed a 63-day gain test, which provided a high plane of nutrition. To prepare the rams for breeding season and prevent excess fat deposition, rams have been limit-fed a grain ration and had unlimited access to pasture since completion of the test (July 15).

More information is available at the Virginia Tech Sheep Extension web site and Virginia Sheep Producers Association web site.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Goat Twilight Tour & Tasting

Approximately 80 people attended the Goat Twilight Tour & Tasting, held July 31 at the University of Maryland's Western Maryland Research & Education Center (WMREC) in Keedysville.

The tour highlighted the center's pasture-based meat goat performance test and pen vs. pasture study. In the test, 77, mostly Kiko bucks, are being evaluated for growth, parasite resistance, and parasite resilience. The top-performing bucks will be sold September 6 at the Bluegrass Performance Invitational in Frankfort, Kentucky. All other bucks will be available for sale via private treaty.

In the study, 30 bucks were divided into two groups and are being fed two different diets: pen (hay + grain) and pasture (pasture + soy hulls). All of the study bucks will be harvested to collect carcass data.

For the tasting part, a local chef (Todd Morren) prepared six dishes made from goat  meat (chevon), including Birria Mexican Goat & Chili Stew, Citrus-Cured Goat Salad (Tai De) Jaffna Goat Curry (Sri Lankan) Pappardelle with Goat Ragu, and Roasted Goat for Tacos.


The Goat Twilight Tour & Tasting was sponsored by the Maryland Grain Producers Utilization Board, which funds the pen vs. pasture study. 

Download Recipes

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

New Programs to Assist Sheep Producers

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has announced two new programs to assist the sheep industry with the production and marketing of their products in the United States.

Through the new Sheep Production and Marketing Grant Program, approximately $1.5 million in grant funds are now available to assist the sheep industry. Through this program, AMS will award grant funds to at least one national entity that is working to strengthen and enhance the production and marketing of sheep and sheep products in the United States.

Sheep Production and Marketing Grant Program

Additionally, AMS' existing verification program for small-scale livestock producers will now include opportunities for the grass-fed sheep industry. The USDA Grass Fed Program for Small and Very Small (SVS) Producers was designed as a verification tool for small and very small producers to certify that animals meet the requirements of the AMS Grass (Forage) Fed Marketing Claim Standard. The program was first announced in April for the grass fed beef industry, and now sheep have been added to the program.

Grass-fed small and very small producer program

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Annual PA Ram & Buck Sale

Pennsylvania's Annual Ram Lamb and Meat Goat Buck Sale will be held Saturday, August 2, 2014, at the Pennsylvania Livestock Evaluation Center in PA Furnace, Pennsylvania. The sale will also include ewes and does.

PA Livestock Evaluation Center Image
The sale is a culmination of a 77-day test program for rams and a 70-day test program for bucks. Throughout the tests, the rams were self-fed a textured 16% crude protein feed. Bucks were self-fed a pelleted 16% crude protein feed. Performance was ranked by index.

The sale will be preceded by the PA Sheep & Goat field Day, which will consist of an informational program and Junior Shepherds' Skillathon. The sale will get underway at 1 p.m.

For information and photos, visit For more information, call (814) 238-2527.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Summer 2014 Wild & Woolly

The Summer 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 "Green Goats" in the current 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.

Mailed copies of the newsletter (4/year) are available for a cost recovery fee of $10/year. Checks payable to the University of Maryland should be sent to:  Sheep/Goat Newsletter, Western Maryland Research & Education Center, 18330 Keedysville Road, Keedysville, MD  21756.

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

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Improving Parasite Resilience

by Ken Turner
USDA ARS, El Reno, Oklahoma

Establishing and maintaining legumes in pastures improves protein levels in the diet of grazing livestock.  In addition, legumes generally have higher levels of several minerals (calcium, copper, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc) in comparison to grasses.  These minerals can help maintain a healthy immune system in animals and thus improve tolerance to GI parasites.

Maintaining forages with high nutritive value (including increased protein levels by utilizing legumes in pastures) helps to increase resilience in sheep and goats to GI parasites.  When grazing sheep and goats on pasture, resilience can be defined as the animal’s ability to tolerate higher GI parasite burdens and still remain productive (gain weight; produce milk).

In a 2012 study, meat goat kids grazing alfalfa or red clover (legumes, high protein) pastures gained more weight compared to goat kids grazing orchardgrass pasture despite an increasing fecal egg count in all animals.  Meat-goat kids grazing alfalfa or red clover appeared to be more resilient to GI parasites than goat kids grazing orchardgrass. 

Use of legume pastures and use of rotational stocking grazing management can provide herbages with high protein and energy levels, helping reduce effects from GI parasitism (especially Haemonchus) in sheep and goats.

Read full article at

Monday, July 7, 2014

Sheep Farms with Footrot Needed

The University of Maine Cooperative Extension is seeking sheep farms with footrot to participate in an applied research project funded by Northeast SARE.  The project is in its 4th year and has already gathered data from approximately 1,000 sheep in the northeast.  The researchers are seeking data from additional flocks to determine if a genetic marker can be identified for possible resistance to the footrot. 

Sheep farms with footrot from the following states are sought:  Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and West Virginia.

All information is confidential.

If you have footrot in your flock and would like to participate, please contact Principal Investigator Richard Brzozowski at or (207) 951-7155. 

All information about participating farms is confidential. For more information about the project and the protocol, see

Monday, June 30, 2014

Sheep Station Slated for Closure

On June 17, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced to Congress that he would close the US Sheep Experiment Station in Dubois, Idaho. Vilsack's letter said the station would close November 3. Congress has 30 days to react to Vilsack's decision. The clock starting ticking on June 20.

The American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) has expressed disappointment with the agency's decision to close the sheep experiment station, as well as the processes by which the decision was made public.

A grazing study
According to Congressman Mike Simpson (R-ID), "closure would have a substantial impact on the western sheep industry."  Simpson was concerned "that people in the industry were not consulted before ARS made the decision." If the station closes, 21 full-time employees would lose their jobs, which represents 5% of the full-time jobs in very rural Clark County, Idaho.

Western members of Congress have asked to stop closure of the station by disapproving ARS's request to reprogram the funds. Reprogramming funds would result in closure of the station.  According to Vilsack's letter, none of the station's reprogrammed budget would go towards sheep research.

The US Sheep Experiment Station is the sole research center dedicated to sheep. It was established in 1915 by President Woodrow Wilson. Sheep have grazed the same lands for almost 100 years. Over the years, the sheep station has done research vital to the sheep and range industry, including the development of three commercially-important breeds (Columbia, Targhee, and Polypay) and various long-term grazing studies.

In recent years, the sheep station has been plagued by lawsuits by animal rights activists and environmental groups, who are concerned because ONE grizzly bear died at the station. At the same time, continuous underfunding of the station has reduced the number of scientists and the research that they are able to do.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Virtual Toolbox for Small Ruminant Producers

Farmers and Extension educators have an expansive new resource available to them in the Small Ruminant Toolbox. The toolbox is a collection of practical, proven materials covering a wide variety of topics, including pasture and herd management, marketing, pest management, qual ity of life and whole-farm sustainability.

The toolbox includes guidance on how to structure a workshop, dozens of PowerPoint presentations, and other materials. Well-received courses such as the Tennessee Master Meat Goat Producer Program, a 978-page Small Ruminant Resource Manual and the Small Ruminant Sustainability Checksheet are also included.

The 60-page Small Ruminant Sustainability Checksheet helps farmers adjust their practices to the changing realities of the marketplace and their farm. It is the center piece of the toolbox

Toolbox materials are free to access online or can be purchased on a USB flash drive at

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Upcoming FAMACHA© Workshop

There will be an Integrated Parasite Management (IPM/FAMACHA©) Workshop on Saturday, July 19, 2014, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m, at the Montgomery County Extension Office in Derwood, Maryland.

Poor FAMACHA© score
The 4-hour workshop will include 2 hours of lecture and discussion and 2 hours of hands-on activity:  FAMACHA© scoring and fecal egg counting. The instructor is Susan Schoenian. Participants will become certified in the use of the FAMACHA© eye anemia system. The FAMACHA© system, along with the Five Point Check©, is used to determine if a sheep, goat, or camelid requires deworming.

To register for the workshop, contact the Montgomery County Extension Office at (301) 590-9638 or The registration deadline is Monday, July 14. The registration fee is $40 per person, family, or farm. Checks should be made payable to Montgomery County EAC and sent to the Montgomery County Extension Office, 18410 Muncaster Road, Derwood, Maryland 20855.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Goat Twilight Tour & Tasting

The second annual Goat Twilight Tour & Tasting will be held on Thursday, July 31, from 5:30 p.m. to dark, at the University of Maryland’s Western Maryland Research & Education Center in Keedysville.

In addition to wagon tours of the goat test facility and research program, there will be an opportunity to taste recipes prepared with goat meat (chevon). The recipes will be prepared by a local chef.

Goat tasting at last year's event

Pre-registration (free) is required. To pre-register, contact Pam Thomas at 301-432-2767 x315 or The deadline for registration is July 21.

The Western Maryland Research & Education is the location of the Western Maryland Pasture-Based Meat Goat Performance Test. This year, there are 77 bucks (mostly Kiko) on test. The tour will also showcase the Center’s pen vs. pasture study, a four-year project in which the performance and carcass characteristics of pen-fed and pasture-raised goats are being compared.

The Twilight Tour & Tasting is sponsored by the Maryland Grain Producers Utilization Board, which funds the pen vs. pasture study.