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Small Ruminant Program title

Small Ruminant Program

During the mid 1970s, Lincoln University established its first sheep flock and in the mid 1980s a goat herd was added. In 2000, the meat goat industry began to boom and Lincoln University Cooperative Extension (LUCE) recognized its potential for growth. In 2008, the university stepped forward and became the lead in Missouri to promote the small ruminant industry through extension and research.

Presently, 182 Boer goats, 69 Dorset sheep and 97 Katahdin sheep reside at George Washington Carver Farm. LUCE serves the leadership role and promotion of eXension Goat Industry Community of Practice. Visit www.extension.org/goat for more information.

As new research efforts focus on current production issues such as foot rot, genetics, grazing studies, natural parasite control, and brush control using goats and sheep, LUCE focuses on providing these findings to producers.

For more information on the LUCE Small Ruminant Program contact:

Dr. Charlotte Clifford-Rathert
State Extension Specialist - Small Ruminant
Clifford-RathertC@LincolnU.edu

Dr. Jodie Pennington
Southwest Region - Regional Educator
Newton County Extension Center
Smith Hall (Crowder College)
601 Laclede Avenue
Neosho, MO 64850-9165
Phone: (417) 455-9500
Fax: (417) 455-9505
PenningtonJ@LincolnU.edu

Dr. Helen Swartz
Professor/State Extension Specialist/Research Investigator
SwartzH@LincolnU.edu

Publications

  1. Cold Weather Management Schedule for Sheep and Goats, December 2013

    Cold Weather Management Schedule for Sheep and Goats

    By: Jodie Pennington

    This schedule is to be used as a guide to assist you in developing a protocol for your winter management program. Practices and dates may vary with your specific program. Regardless of your program, it is important to record each task and the results so you can refer back to it in following seasons or years. Generally, this schedule is for late spring kidding or lambing. You can adjust back one or two months if you want animals to give birth earlier in the year or go forward if you want to kid or lamb later in the year. Periodically, look at the schedule to see if a management practice should be conducted in the present month or should be done in another month.
    Some practices should be conducted every month or as needed, i.e., evaluations of forages, body condition of animals, foot care, health, need for culling and internal or external parasite control.

    • Evaluate forage conditions and inventory. Start looking for hay if needed, initially from a neighbor or close-by farm. Look on the Internet for hay if you cannot find it locally. Winter annuals should have been sown by early September if adequate moisture was in the soil. Consult with your local extension office to determine the best options for annuals if you want to plant this season. Spring grasses can be sown from late January to early March. Summer annuals can be sown from early May to early June. Check MU Extension Guide G4652 for more specifics.
    • If you have goats and feed is limited, consider putting the non-lactating animals in good vegetation in the woods. They should do well. Remember to provide trace mineralized salt and protection from predators. Consider letting either sheep or goats eat your left-over garden or maybe corn stalks if you have them.
    • Provide best quality forage to animals in breeding herd. Test hay for nutrient content to insure that minimal nutrients are available to meet the nutrient needs of your animals.
    • Soil tests should be done every three years to determine fertilizer needs. Fertilize and lime as needed for the yield you want.
    • Treat for internal and external parasites as needed. Later in the winter, observe for and treat for lice if necessary.
    • Evaluate animals for body condition and health; sell unsound and inferior animals. Be especially critical of animals with no teeth.
    • Evaluate for foot rot and needs for hoof care. Trim as needed.
    • Is your marketing plan sufficient? How can you improve it for next year? Remember that Ramadan (month of fasting for Muslims starts on June 28 and goes to July 27, 2014. Historically prices are lower during Ramadan. Females bred in December will kid or lamb in late April or May so shelter may or may not be needed at parturition. Will you be able to get your kids or lambs ready to sell by midsummer (late July) if a drought hits? If they have good feed available, should you wait until Thanksgiving to sell market animals when prices are usually a little higher? Next year, should you plan to breed earlier and have the animals give birth earlier and market the offspring before Ramadan (Remember that Ramadan moves back 11 days each year.)? Either way can work, you just need to plan accordingly. Kids and lambs grow better in cooler weather and parturition is less stressful in cooler weather. However, generally animals cost more to rear since you may have to feed hay rather than grass. The days before Easter are usually the highest meat prices of the year for small ruminants.
    • Start the month by giving your bucks or rams a good examination and their selenium shot, if needed; check the housing for the bucks to make sure that it is escape proof.
    • Begin preparing for the breeding season if not already done so. Pull out your production records and decide which does or ewes will be bred early and which will be bred later. Your decision on marketing will affect breeding dates for the animals. Vaccinate for reproductive diseases if they are a problem in your area. Begin flushing breeding animals, especially if you have sheep. The data are mixed on results of flushing goats. Flush with fresh green pasture or 1/2 pound feed/head/day for 2-3 weeks before and after breeding season.
    • If you plan to use bucks or rams from other people, be sure you have contacted the owners and have made arrangements. Allow for a quarantine period before the male goes in with your females.
    • Keep fences in good repair to prevent breeding accidents. Review all facilities to minimize exposure of sheep and goats to nails, debris, mud or manure. Do animals have shelter for winter? More shelter will be needed if animals give birth in snow or cold rain. Are the pipes protected from freezing? Check all equipment and conduct maintenance as needed. Check water quality and quantity if it appears to be a problem.
    • Have special buck-handling (or ram) coveralls ready for use to help keep odor from your regular clothes.
    • Breed large kids and lambs that weigh at least 70% of the expected mature weight.
    • Plan to attend educational meetings. Visit with a neighbor to see what he/she is doing that might be able to improve your management program.

     Source: 

    http://extension.missouri.edu/cedar/documents/ANV12_13.pdf


  2. Controlling Worms in Small Ruminants, November 2013
  3. All Need to Understand the Science of Food Production, September 2013
  4. Nutritional Disorders When Showing Sheep and Goats, July 2013

    Nutritional Disorders When Showing Sheep and Goats

    By: Jodie Pennington

    There are several nutritional diseases associated with showing sheep and goats, especially market lambs and market goats. The most common disorders also occur in commercial production and include acidosis, bloat, founder, enterotoxemia, and getting animals too fat or too skinny. Generally, animals that are too fat have been overfed and animals that are too skinny have been sick or underfed. Acidosis, bloat, founder, and enterotoxemia (overeating disease) are related to increased levels of grain in the diet, sudden changes in the diet, or improper balance of grain to forages. To prevent these problems, proper levels of grain supple-mentation should be followed. Other control practices include availability of probiotics and/or buffers such as sodium bicarbonate in the diet, either free choice or in the grain mix. Acidosis is associated with the production of high levels of lactic acid in the rumen from a large supply of starch or soluble sugars that the animal is consuming. Usually, acidosis is associated with high levels of feeding grain, feeding finely ground grain, and low levels of fiber from hay. The pH of the rumen then goes from 6.2-6.5 to less than 5.5, which results in changes in the microorganisms in the rumen. Endotoxins also may be produced by ruminal bacteria that make the problem worse and can result in enterotoxemia. Generally, there are two types of bloat. Dry or free gas bloat is the accumulation of excess free gas in the rumen, often caused by overeating of grain or failure to burp from lack of chewing the cud. Frothy or foamy bloat is where the contents of the rumen become foamy, trapping gas in the foam. Frothy bloat may be caused by high grain feeding or by over-consumption of lush pasture or rich legume hay. Bloat can also be caused by a blockage of the esophagus. The most noticeable sign of bloat is the extension of the rumen on the left side. The rumen is usually very tight if the bloat is severe and action should be taken quickly in such a case. In severe cases of bloat, the animal may be in extreme distress, gasping for air, and have the tongue hanging out. These animals can die quickly as pressure increases on the heart, blood vessels, and lungs from the expanded gas in the rumen. Death may occur from respiratory failure. This is an emergency situation and the vet or a competent person knowledgeable of treatment of bloat should be contacted immediately. The norm is for less severe and mild cases of bloat. Treatments for those include massaging the rumen and/or walking the animal with its head up and a stick in the mouth to release gas that may relieve the pressure. Some animals are more prone to bloat than others and may be chronic bloaters which may require that grain be removed from the animal. In other cases, the use of a stomach tube, drenching with mineral oil or a commercial product with proloxalene may reduce the gas in mild bloat. Probiotics should be given after the bloat treatment to aid in establishing normal rumen function. Founder or laminitis refers to problems that occur with the feet of the animal as a consequence of acidosis. Founder may be caused by a sudden change in the diet, high levels of grain feeding, or restricted feeding of forages, or a long-term combination of these such as low forage to grain ratio. The blood vessels in the hoof become engorged, causing pain. Long-term or chronic conditions cause the tissues within the hoof to break down, causing abnormally rapid growth. The excessive growth of the feet may be thick and irregular, requiring frequent hoof trimming. Usually, either both front or both back feet are overgrown but all feet can be overgrown. Enterotoxemia or over-eating disease is caused by sudden changes in the diet of young sheep and goats. Bacteria in the intestine grow rapidly and produce an endotoxin in response to sudden high levels of starch or soluble sugars from grain in the diet. Animals can be in extreme stress from the effect of the endotoxin and may die quickly. Vaccination with the CDT vaccine will help prevent this disease. Show animals may be vaccinated for enterotoxemia at 5-6 weeks of age followed by a booster 3 weeks later. Additional vaccinations also may be needed, depending on how long the animal is shown and the level of grain feeding. It is important to remember that goats are not sheep when feeding. Market goats are going to have more rumen development and will not be as trim in the middle as market lambs. Good grass hay may be used in feeding goats more easily than with a market lamb. Additionally, sheep tolerate less copper than goats and should be fed a different mineral. For either sheep or goats, provide fresh, clean feed and water daily.

  5. Control of Goat and Sheep Predators, April 2013

    Control of Goat and Sheep Predators

    By: Jodie Pennington

    One of the main problems faced by goat and sheep producers is predation. The major predators of small ruminants are dogs and coyotes; these make up 70 to 80 percent of the predation. Feral dogs and those in the area as pets are the most likely predators in highly populated areas; coyotes are the chief predator in sparsely populated and rural areas. Other predators, such as mountain lions (cougars), bobcats, birds of prey (such as eagles) and foxes, can be a problem. Sick, weak or newly born kids and lambs are most likely to be the target of predators.
    Three methods of predator control are normally used: (1) livestock guardian animals (LGAs), (2) fencing to keep the predators away from the animals, and (3) lethal methods that kill the predator. Sometimes, a combination of these methods are employed. Most use all three methods of control. The most common types of lethal control include shooting, poisoning and trapping. It is essential to check with your local law enforcement agency to see how they enforce laws on the killing of predators. Keep in mind that predatory dogs may be your pet or that of a neighbor. Local and state laws vary on lethal methods of control; these methods will not be addressed in this article.
    The use of LGAs and proper fencing can greatly reduce predator losses. Guardian animals are usually dogs that stay with the flock or herd; the LGAs will protect livestock without harming them and forcefully fight off or frighten predators. The guardian dog is not a herding dog or a pet. Many dogs can work as LGAs; the most success is with specific breeds of dogs. Great Pyrenees, Anatolian Shepherd, Akbash and Komondor are bred as protectors. Pyrenees are the most popular; Anatolians are a distant second. Other animals that can serve as guardians include llamas, donkeys, mules and mustangs. They all eat forages along with the small ruminants. Depending on the LGA, there may need to be some changes in how you manage your operation; dogs will need daily or bi-daily feedings. All LGAs need routine and preventative health care. Some animals will not work well as protectors; an LGA that does not do the job needs to be replaced. The results of satisfaction surveys with LGAs vary: generally dogs are 80 to 95 percent effective; llamas, 80-90 percent; and donkeys, 60 percent.
    Sometimes one guard animal will not be enough to protect the livestock. Several guard dogs may be needed to patrol larger areas or to protect against packs of predators. A llama and a dog can be trained to work together, but not all species of LGAs are good partners. Rotational grazing may decrease the number of LGAs needed because the livestock stay in a smaller area. In urban areas, guard animals may not be used due to liability concerns.
    In addition to LGAs, fencing can deter predators, especially dogs and coyotes. The best fencing can be costly. The costs of fencing must be weighed against the danger and costs of losing an animal. The acreage to be fenced is a major factor in the choice of fencing. A properly charged and grounded electric fence with multiple strands can be effective. It is usually the most cost-effective, especially with large acreage. However, some do not want to monitor electric fencing. Instead, they will increase the number of LGAs and/or use a permanent exterior fencing of welded wire mess or woven wire, especially in small acreage. Woven wire fencing can be offset with electric fencing, if needed to deter predators. Because many predators, especially coyotes, are usually active from dusk to dawn, it helps to confine goats at night in predator-proof pens located near the owner’s residence. Kidding in sheds or on a pasture lot located close to where humans live can also reduce losses. Night penning may include paddocks of woven wire, welded wire, chain link, net electric wire, metal or wood panels, and/or 6-10 strands of electric wire.

  6. Menigeal Worm in Sheep and Goats, February 2013

    Meningeal Worm in Sheep and Goats

    By: Jodie Pennington

    The meningeal worm or brain worm is an internal parasite (Paralaphostrongylus tenius) of the white-tailed deer that usually completes its life cycle in the deer without causing significant problems. However, when unnatural hosts, such as sheep and goats, become infected with meningeal worm, the parasite moves into the brain and/or spinal cord and causes neurological problems that can be fatal. Meningeal worm is not a health concern to humans. Normally, the incidence of meningeal worm is more prevalent in summer or fall but may occur after warm weather in the fall or winter, such as we have had this year.
    The meningeal worm, (also known as the brain or deer worm), requires snails or slugs as intermediate hosts during its life cycle. White-tailed deer become infested with meningeal worm(s) by eating snails or slugs as they graze low lying pastures. The larvae migrate through the deer's gut and eventually move into the central nervous system where they mature into adults and produce eggs. However, when P. tenius infected snails and slugs are ingested by sheep and goats, the larvae migrate into the brain and/or spinal cord (occasionally entering the brain) where they can damage the spinal cord tissue. It takes 10 to 90 days for the parasite to reach the brain and/or spinal cord after the animal eats the infected snail or slug.
    Symptoms: Severity of symptoms depends on the number of larvae present and their migration pattern. Loss of function in the rear legs is a common clinical sign of meningeal worm infestation. Normal infestation may produce staggering, a slight limp or weakness in one or more legs, especially the rear legs resulting in the goat or sheep not being able to walk resulting in paralysis. Affected animals remain alert and have a good appetite unless there is brain damage. On rare occasion the migrating larvae reach the brain causing blindness, a head tilt, circling, depression, and death. Some animals recover slowly, others may continue to have problems despite treatment, and others are humanely euthanized (put down).
    Diagnosis: Meningeal worm infection is difficult to diagnosis and usually is confirmed on the dead animal. However, a “live” diagnosis can be made by an analysis of the spinal fluid from a spinal tap but this procedure is more expensive than some commercial animals are worth. Usually, the diagnosis is based on symptoms and history of the disease and/or deer in the area. Other neurological diseases such as scrapie, vitamin E/selenium deficiency, polioencephalomalacia, or listerosis may have similar symptoms, making it very important to work with your veterinarian on the diagnosis.
    Treatment: According to Dr. Charlotte Clifford-Rathert, State Small Ruminant Specialist at Lincoln University in Missouri, treatment consists of oral dewormer (Panacur, Safeguard or Moxidectin) for 5 days, anti-inflammatory drugs (Banamine) in non-pregnant animals, and supportive care. Treatment dosages should only be used under the direction of your veterinarian. Be cautious in the pregnant animal as anti-inflammatory drugs may cause abortion. Check with your vet as a similar or related treatment may be recommended. The goal with this aggressive treatment is to prevent permanent damage to the spinal cord as the treatment does not repair damage to the brain and spinal cord.
    Prevention: Prevention is difficult. If possible, control deer in your pastures or minimize the number of deer grazing where you have animals. Also, fence around ponds, swamps, and wetlands that may harbor snail and slugs. Sheep and goats should not be pastured where there are many deer and they should be removed from these pastures where deer have been before the weather turns wet and cool. In cooler and damp weather that we have had in recent weeks, it is best to pasture on high ground that is well-drained, which may not always be feasible. Additionally, it is important to maintain overall good health in the herd or flock with a routine deworming program.
    Marketing Sheep and Goats
    It is always important to market your sheep and goats before ethnic holidays in order to attain the highest prices, a major factor in profitability of the small ruminant enterprise. With sheep prices being depressed in recent months, it is more important than ever to market when the prices are highest, usually 10-14 days before the holiday. Below is an ethnic calendar which outlines the major holidays for 2013-2015.
    Holiday 2013 2014 2015
    New Year's Day 1/1 1/1 1/1
    Epiphany 1/6 1/6 1/6
    Eidul-Adha Festival of Sacrifice 10/5 9/24 9/13
    Muharramn – Islamic New Year 11/5 10/25 10/15
    Mawlid al-Nabi – Prophet's Birthday 1/24 1/14 1/3
    Western Roman Easter 3/31 3/20 3/5
    Eastern Orthodox Easter 5/5 3/20 3/12
    Cinco de Mayo 5/5 5/5 5/5
    Independence Day 7/4 7/4 7/4
    Start of Ramadan – Month of Fasting 7/9 6/29 6/18
    Diwali 11/3 10/23 11/11
    Eid ul-Fitr – Festival of Fast Breaking 8/8 7/29 7/18
    Passover / Pesach 3/26 – 4/23 3/15 - 3/22 3/4 - 3/11
    Rosh Hashanah 9/5 9/25 9/14
    Navadurgara / Navratra Dashara / Dassai
    Chanukkah 11/28 - 12/5 12/17 - 12/24 12/7 - 12/14
    Christmas 12/25 12/25 12/25

  7. Fall Management Schedule for Sheep and Goats: Drought and Breeding Dates, September 2012

    Fall Management Schedule for Sheep and Goats: Drought and Breeding Dates

    By: Jodie Pennington, Small Ruminant Educator

    This schedule is to be used as a guide to assist you in developing a protocol for your fall management program. Practices and dates may vary with your specific program. Regardless of your specific program, it is important to record each task and the results so you can refer back to it in following seasons or years. Periodically, look at the schedule to see if a management practice should be conducted in the present month or should be done in another month. Some practices should be conducted every month or as needed, i.e., forages, parasites, body condition, foot care, health, and need for culling. This article will emphasize management associated with the recent drought and factors affecting time of breeding since Ramadan, the month of fasting and decreased demand for meat from small ruminants continues to move earlier in the year, starting on July 9 in 2013.

    • Evaluate forage conditions and inventory. Start looking for hay if needed. Hay is extremely tight because of the drought. Look on the internet for hay if you cannot find it locally. Winter annuals should be sown by early September if adequate moisture is in the soil. If funds are available and because of the wide-spread nature of the drought, it might be worth sowing winter annuals if soil moisture is limited and hope it rains. In general, over 90% of the fall seasons will have adequate rain. You can sow into early October as long as you recognize that the amount of pasture this fall will be less. Consult with your local extension office to determine the best options.
    • If you have goats and feed is limited, consider putting the non-lactating animals in good vegetation in the woods. They should do well. Remember to provide trace mineralized salt and protection from predators. Consider letting the small ruminants eat your left-over gar-den.
    • Cut excess pastures as hay if quantities are adequate to justify baling. Soil tests should be done every three years to determine fertilizer needs. Fertilize as needed but not until it starts raining.
    • Treat for internal and external parasites. Later in the year, treat for lice if necessary. Evaluate animals for body condition and health; sell unsound and inferior animals. Be especially critical of animals with no teeth. Evaluate for foot rot and needs for hoof care. Trim as needed.
    • Is your marketing plan sufficient? How can you improve it for next year? Remember that Easter is March 31, 2013, and Ramadan (month of fasting) starts on July 9, 2013. Females bred in September will kid or lamb in February so shelter may be needed at parturition. We can get snow in February. Will you be able to get your kids or lambs ready to sell by mid-March? Should you plan to breed later and have the animals give birth later and market the offspring after mid-August? Kids and lambs grow better in cooler weather and parturition is less stressful in cooler weather. In mid-March, 2012, excellent kids were $2.80 per pound compared to $1.70 in mid-July, 2012. By October-November, 2011, kids were over $2/lb again but not to $2.80. How the earlier Ramadan will affect fall prices remains to be seen.
    • Start the month by giving your bucks or rams a good examination and their selenium shot, if needed; check the housing for the bucks to make sure that it is escape proof.
    • Begin preparing for the breeding season if not already done so. Pull out your production records and decide which does or ewes will be bred early and which will be bred later. Your decision on marketing will affect breeding dates for the animals. Vaccinate for reproductive diseases if they are a problem in your area.
    • Begin flushing does and bucks. Flush with fresh green pasture or 1/2 pound feed/head/day for 2-3 weeks before and after breeding sea-son.
    • If you plan to use bucks or rams from other people, be sure you have contacted the owners and have made arrangements. Allow for a quarantine period before the male goes in with your females.
    • Keep fences in good repair to prevent breeding accidents. Review all facilities to minimize exposure of sheep and goats to nails, de-bris, mud or manure. Do animals have shelter for winter?
    • Check water quality and quantity if it appears to be a problem.
    • Provide best quality forage to animals in breeding herd. Test hay for nutrient content.
    • Have special buck-handling (or ram) coveralls ready for use to help keep odor from your regular clothes.
    • Breed large kids and lambs that weigh at least 70% of the expected mature weight.
    • Check all equipment and conduct maintenance as needed.
    • Plan to attend educational meetings. Visit with a neighbor to see what he/she is doing that might be of assistance to help improve your management program.

       

  8. Are You Ready for a Drought with Sheep and Goats?, August 2012

    Are You Ready for a Drought with Sheep and Goats?

    By Jodie Pennington, Small Ruminant Educator, Lincoln University, Newton County Extension Center

    Presently, much of the state is in a drought, including Newton and adjoining counties. I hope that the drought will have subsided by the time you receive this newsletter in the next month. If so, there is still the need to find feed for sheep and goats and the stress of dealing with financial concerns from the drought. Last year, I wrote about the drought and it rained the next month---so we will hope for the best this year.
    Financial and long-term goals
    • What is your current financial situation? Can you buy feed or should you sell your animals? No animal should go without feed and water. • How long will you have to feed the animals? Should you buy good quality forage or grain? Which is the most economical? Do you have an adequate supply of water for the animals?
    • Where can you go to get feed? The drought may cover much of southwest Missouri but may be less severe in other parts of the state. Does a close-by neighbor have hay or grain for sale or a wooded area where the sheep and goats may go?
    • If selling animals, ask: what are the prices of sheep and goats now? Summer months are usually the worse prices for small rumi-nants. What will the prices be after the drought? What effect will reduced animal numbers have on my overall feeding costs? What are the tax implications when selling livestock? Will animals be purchased when the drought is over?
    • What effect will my action plan have on my long-term viability? Should I see my bank manager now?
    The plan for a drought does not have to be implemented all at once and should be flexible to allow for chances in circumstances. It may rain tomorrow but you must plan for the worst. An option is to lease or loan your animals to a neighbor or relative who has extra feed, especially if they have a wooded area with a lot of vegetation. Presently, crossbred hair sheep and goats at Crowder College are in a wooded part of old Camp Crowder, but the feed there is rapidly disappearing. Two major factors with sheep or goats in a wooded area are predator control (which usually means a dog for a guardi-an animal) and the costs of fencing. The fencing should keep the animals in the lot and the predators out of the lot. Goats require more extensive fencing than sheep. You may also consider taking your sheep or goats to another farm in another area where the drought is less prevalent. The costs to move animals should be considered in movement of animals—whether to loan them, lease them, or sell them. A concern with the movement of animals is the likelihood of exposure to diseases. Drought feeding requirements of sheep and goats depend upon the type of sheep and goats and quantity and quality of feed available.
    In pastures grazed by cattle, there may be additional forage available such as weeds and brush that can be utilized by goats and sheep. In other cases, goats and sheep may be turned in on brush and undergrowth to provide part of their nutritional needs. Both goats and hair sheep will do well on browse. Wooled sheep may or may not do as well and should be monitored closely. Supplemental feeding may also be required. Additionally, culling of problem or lower producing animals will provide more feed per animal for those remaining and reduce the total costs of feeding when purchased feed prices are likely to be high. Observations: Sheep and goats need to be watched closely during and following a drought. They need to be monitored for body condition (flesh) to be sure that they are not getting too skinny and have adequate amounts to eat. It is much better to feed to maintain adequate body condition than to let the animals get too skinny where they will not bring much money if you sell them. It also costs much more and takes much longer to get them back in proper body condition if they get too skinny. Furthermore, animals need to be observed closely in case they have severe heat stress or possibly eat toxic plants when other feed is in short supply. If animals are close to parturition, watch them closely as the heat can affect the hormones that assist with kidding or lambing. Water, Shade and Housing: Sheep and goats may not need housing other than trees in the summer but shade is essential. Water should always be available to all animals. If sheep and goats exhibit signs of being heat stressed, both water and energy allowances for mainte-nance should be increased to allow for the extra energy needed to cool the body. Feeding: Drought feeding should be started well before the sheep and goats lose excessive weight and before any permanent production loss in kids is sustained. It is also essential that animals be observed more carefully as they are more apt to wander across the fence and to other fields when adequate forages are not available to them. Trace mineralized salt should always be available to the animals, preferably in loose form but blocks are adequate.
    Changing feeds: Before starting to feed grain to sheep and goats, feed good quality hay if it can be found. It is especially important to avoid sudden changes in the ration. Good quality hay or pasture should account for at least 30% of the feed and should be 100% of the diet, in many cases. If it is necessary to feed grain or use a different grain, mix the old grain with the new, gradually increasing the concentration over at least a week. Feeding processed grain to sheep and goats can increase the incidence of bloating and can cause animals to go off feed. When purchasing feed, consider commodities as they may be less expensive per nutrient than conventional grain. One problem with com-modities is that they may not be available in small quantities except as bagged feed at the local feed store. Good quality hay is usually the least expensive per nutrient to buy, but hay supplies are very tight. Your local county extension office will have programs that allow you to compare the relative value of different feeds. In summary, watch sheep and goats closely in a drought and start providing extra feed before body weight loss is excessive. If necessary, problem or lower producing animals may be sold to allow more forage for remaining animals.

  9. Factors Affecting Onset of Puberty in Sheep and Goats, June 2012

    Factors Affecting Onset of Puberty in Sheep and Goats


    By: Jodie Pennington

    Puberty is the process of physical changes in the body of an animal which make it capable of sexual reproduction. It is initiated by hormonal signals from the brain to the reproductive organs, the ovaries in a female and the testes or testicles in a male. The reproduction organs then begin producing eggs (ova) or sperm. De-pending on several factors, the onset of puberty occurs at 3-12 months of age and at 30-50 percent of adult body weight in sheep and goats. Usually the initial onset of puberty in females is not accompanied by signs of heat in the female and the initial sperm production in the male is low. Factors affecting the onset of puberty in both males and females include nutrition, season, age and time of birth, environment, genetics, disease, management, and the interaction of these factors. Nutrition is among the most significant factors influencing reproductive development and the onset of puberty. Levels of nutrition will affect size and body condition which also affects the onset of puberty. A low plane of nutrition delays first estrus and reduces uterine and ovarian development. Increasing the overall plane of nutrition generally advances the onset of puberty. However, over-feeding will decrease subsequent fertility. Energy and protein restriction influences age at puberty, with energy restriction having a greater influence on delaying onset of puberty than protein restriction. In most sheep and goat breeds, attainment of puberty is dependent on reaching a certain body weight, usually between 30 and 50% of the mature body weight. Season has a marked effect on the time of puberty as the onset of puberty occurs during normal breeding season. Sheep and goats tend to be seasonal breeders. The normal breeding season for sheep and goats occurs mainly from August to January, but primarily from September through December, or as the day length (photoperiod) shortens. During the anestrous season, almost no animals reach puberty as a small percentage of females show estrus and ovulation rate decreases. Age, weight, and growth rate seem to be interacting in contributing to the onset of puberty. In general, faster growth rates resulting from higher planes of nutrition enable kids and lambs to attain puberty at a younger age and heavier body weight than kids reared on low planes of nutrition. Age and date of birth also may affect age of puberty. For example, a January lamb may not reach puberty until 8 months in August when the season allows puberty while an April lamb may have the onset of puberty at 4 months in August also. Average age of puberty is 5-7 months in goats and 6-9 months in sheep but may range from 3-12 months. Puberty occurs much before sexual maturity. Environment also affects onset of puberty. In summer, high temperatures can delay puberty. Lesser effects are noticed with extreme cold but all stresses including diseases can delay puberty. Reproduction in sheep seems more susceptible to high temperatures and humidity than in goats. Like the doe and ewe, day length has an effect on the reproductive processes and puberty in the buck and rams. The bucks and rams have the highest libido, fertility, semen quality and volume in late summer and fall, which is directly correlated to the seasonal breeding pattern of does and ewes. Like the female, day length also has an effect on the reproductive processes in the male. Photoperiod influences the sexual activity and puberty of some breeds more than others. Meat goats tend to breed out of season more than dairy goats. Some Boer goats will breed throughout the year. Pygmy goats seem to reach puberty at 3-4 months, earlier than dairy or meat goats. Ewe lambs from fine-wool, coarse wool, and late-maturing medium-wool breeds reach puberty later than many of the meat (Suffolk, Dorset, etc.) and hair sheep (Katahdin, St. Croix, and Barbados Blackbelly) breeds. Finnsheep and Romanov ewe lambs and their crosses reach puberty at an earlier age than most breeds. Crossbred ewe lambs cycle at a younger age than purebred ewe lambs. Management, diseases, and other stresses can affect the onset of puberty. Complete separation of males and females during the early growth period may delay the onset of puberty. Adding sexually active animals with sheep and goats will hasten the onset of puberty. Any severe stress that markedly affects either the male or female can delay puberty in sheep or goats.

  10. Differences in Sheep and Goats, March 2012

    Differences in Sheep and Goats By: Jodie Pennington

    Many know that sheep are ovine and goats are caprine. There also are other differences in sheep and goats. Lately, we are getting a lot more questions about sheep since the price of market lambs have been almost as high as market goats. Traditionally, goats have sold for about 30% more per pound than sheep. Further complicating the differences in sheep and goats is that sheep can have either primarily wool or hair, e.g. wooled sheep or hair sheep. Hair sheep are smaller than wooled sheep and some people are more apt to confuse them with a goat than a wooled sheep. Hair sheep are in-creasing in popularity, in part because they are considered easier to rear than goats and the market price is presently almost as much per pound as market goats. Anatomy: Sheep are larger than goats with hair sheep being larger than goats but smaller than wooled sheep. Sheep (Ovis Aries) have 54 chromosomes, while goats (Capra Hircus) have 60. Hybrids are rare and are called chimeras. A goat's tail goes up normally, unless it is sick or in dis-tress. Sheep tails hang down and are often docked (shortened) for health and sanitary reasons. Most goats have hair coats that do not require shearing or combing. Most sheep grow wool and need to be sheared annually. Lamb tails are usually docked whereas goat tails are not. With the exception of hair sheep, sheep and goats fatten very differently. Goats deposit fat around their internal organs before depositing external fat. Sheep deposit external fat before depositing internal fat. Finn sheep and some of the hair breeds deposit fat around their internal organs similar to goats. Some but not all will detect an offensive odor in cooking lamb or mutton which is concentrated in the fat. Sheep have an upper lip that is divided by a distinct philtrum (groove). The goat does not. Male goats have glands beneath their tail. Sheep have face or tear glands beneath their eyes and foot or scent glands between the toes. Male goats develop a distinct odor as they grow in sexual maturity. The odor is very strong during rut (mating season). Sexually mature rams have much less of an odor. The meat of both older males has an odor. Most goats naturally have horns. Some goats have beards. Many breeds of sheep are naturally hornless (polled). Some sheep have manes. Goat horns are narrower, upright, and less curved than sheep horns. Sheep horns tend to loop on the sides of their heads. The estrus cycle averages 17 days for the ewe and 20-21 days for the doe. Goats are much easier to artificially inseminate (breed) than sheep. Sheep have a complicated cervix which makes pas-sage of an insemination rod very difficult. Sheep show few visible signs of estrus (heat) as com-pared to goats; thus AI in sheep is rare. Male goats have an offensive odor during the mating sea-son; rams do not. Though it varies by breed, goats tend to be less seasonal and have fewer offspring per pregnancy than sheep. Behavior: There are many behavior differences between sheep and goats. Goats are naturally curious and independent. Sheep have a stronger flocking instinct and become very agitated if they are separated from the rest of the flock. In general, sheep are gentle, quiet animals. They are eas-ily led. Goats tend to be more vocal and more individualistic. They are more apt to separate from the herd---hence a need for greater fencing than for sheep. Goat tend to have more personality than sheep and seem to like to interact with people more—although both can be personable. Goats tend to seek shelter more readily than sheep. Neither likes to get their feet wet and both prefer upland grazing to lowland. Goats and sheep can be intermingled although there may be individual conflicts. Similar sizes are better. However, when young bucks and rams are maintained together, rams will dominate because the ram will preemptively strike the buck in the abdomen as he tends to butt fast when attacked while the buck may be still in the act of rearing up to get ready to fight. Foraging behavior and nutrition: The biggest difference between sheep and goats is their foraging behavior and diet selection. Both are ruminants. Goats are natural browsers, preferring to graze with their heads up and eat leaves, twigs, vines, and shrubs. They are very agile and will stand on their hind legs to reach vegetation. Sheep are grazers, preferring to eat short, tender grasses and clover. Their dietary preference is forbs (broadleaf weeds) and they like to graze closer to the soil surface. Goats like to eat the tops of plants. Sheep and goats have similar nutrient requirements for their size, although goats have slighter higher maintenance requirements. The larger sheep tend to grow much faster than goats, no matter what the diet is. They convert feed more efficiently. Grain-feeding is less likely to be profitable in goat production. Sheep may have a problem with cooper toxicity. Goats require more copper in their diet than sheep and are not as sensitive to copper toxicity. When co-mingled, sheep products should be fed in the long-term although some will use goat products for brief periods of time. Diseases: Sheep and goats are generally susceptible to the same diseases, including scrapie which is the “mad cow” dis-ease of small ruminants. Scrapie is very rare in both but more so in goats. Sheep and goats are infected by the same internal parasites (worms), though coccidia are species-specific. Sheep tend to have fewer problems with internal parasites than goats, due to their origins and natural browsing behavior. Goats metabolize anthelmintics (dewormers) quicker and re-quire higher doses of the drugs. The clostridial vaccines also seem to be less effective in goats and some think that goats tend to have fewer clostridial problems than sheep. Fewer drugs are FDA-approved for use in goats. There is no disease similar to "floppy kid syndrome" in lambs. Sheep tend to have more foot problems than goats. Summary: Sheep tend to be larger, more parasite resistant, more prolific reproductively, and more flock-oriented than goats. Goats tend to have less foot problems, be better brows-ers, more curious, and bring more per pound than sheep, al-though the price has tighten in recent months.

     

  11. Ketosis or Pregnancy Toxemia in Does and Ewes, February 2012

    Ketosis or Pregnancy Toxemia in Does and Ewes: by Jodie Pennington

    Ketosis is an energy shortage which results in an increase in ketones throughout the body. The ketones increase as the body mobilizes fat to meet its energy needs. The increase can be detected noticeably in the blood, milk, urine, and breathe. Ketosis most often occurs in late pregnancy or early lactation. Lactational ketosis is observed primarily in high-producing dairy goats. Late pregnancy ketosis (gestational ketosis or pregnancy toxemia) is encountered in sheep and goats carrying multiple fetuses, especially in goats that are too skinny or too fat. Goats appear to be more resistant than ewes to ketosis. Ketosis is not a transmittable disease from one doe or ewe to another. Symptoms: Does and ewes suffering from ketosis appear lethargic, sluggish and often fail to eat. One of the first symptoms noticed is often an unwillingness to eat. They become depressed, weak and have poor muscle control and may grind their teeth. Many times, when they lie down, they are unable to rise. Pregnancy toxemia occurs most often within 1 to 3 weeks before parturition and lactational ketosis is 1 to 6 weeks after parturition although the times may be extended. Early in the disease, does or ewes will show a positive test for ketone bodies in the urine. The breath of does and ewes will have a sweet or foul smell. Ketone bodies are by-products of fat breakdown found in the blood and urine. Test kits are available for ketone bodies in sheep and goats as they are used in dieting humans and they are easy to use. Cause: Pregnancy toxemia is caused by the sudden extra demand for energy by the fast-growing kids or lambs in the last few weeks of pregnancy when seventy percent of fetal growth occurs. It is usually seen when the ewe or doe is carrying two or more babies. At the time when the unborn kids or lambs are growing very rapidly, additional energy is needed in the diet. However, total space within the mother’s body is limited and there may not be enough room for both the unborn young and the extra feed needed to feed them. Does or ewes consuming large amounts of hay need a greater internal space in the rumen, which causes decreasing space for growth of the kids or lambs in the uterus. In meeting the nutritional needs of the kids or lambs, the doe or ewe will metabolize or break down fat resources from her body to maintain pregnancy, thus increasing ketones. The increase in feedstuffs high in energy must be supplied on a daily basis since space is limited in the rumen. Does and ewes that are too fat are also more likely to experience pregnancy toxemia. Lactational ketosis occurs when fat is being mobilized to meet the energy needs of a doe or ewe in parturition when milk production is increasing in the first weeks after parturition. Symptoms may be noticed within a few hours to 2-3 days after the metabolism is changing. In severe cases with no treatment, symptoms may progress to a coma or death. Prevention: The goal should be to prevent ketosis rather than having to treat it. Avoid the conditions that cause ketosis. Make sure condition. Then feed enough energy to be sure that body condition is maintained—not too skinny or too fat. Grain is a high source of available energy. Feeding 1-2 lbs. of grain daily along with high quality hay during the last four to six weeks of pregnancy will help prevent pregnancy toxemia. If the does or ewes are large, it may be necessary to increase the grain from 50% to 100%. Feeding grain first and having ample space at the feeders for each doe or ewe to get her share of the grain followed by hay feeding may help. Exercising the doe or ewe is quite helpful especially in the cold winter months when feeding is in drylot. Hay can be placed in feeders quite a distance from the barn to force the does or ewes to walk to the feed to increase their exercise. In early lactation, the ration should be balanced to ensure the high-producing animals are getting adequate energy. The ration should change gradually from the dry period to the lactation period. Probiotics and B vitamins may help keep the animal eating. Treatment: For the untrained, it is best to call a veterinarian. Treatment for ketosis involves injecting or drenching with a source of glucose: intravenous glucose (50% dextrose in 60-100 ml dose, followed by a 5% dextrose solution in an electrolyte drip), glucocorticoid steroids, adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) injections, oral drenching with sodium propionate or propylene glycol (up to 4 ounces or 120 ml/4 times a day), or commercially-available nutritional drenches in gel or liquid which may be more convenient than injections or infusions. Observe carefully as relapses may occur. The treatment of pregnancy toxemia must be prompt to be successful. Providing energy in the form of molasses or syrup may not suffice. Treatment with propylene glycol at 60 to 90 ml (2 to 3 oz) by drench twice daily may help. Cesarean section to deliver the kids or lambs early will sometimes save the doe or ewe and the kids or lambs if they are near term. Corticosteroids may be used to abort the doe or ewe to prevent the loss of the dam. Kids or lambs may die shortly following the diagnosis of pregnancy toxemia due to lack of nutritional transfer from the doe or ewe to them. The sooner the kids or lambs are born, the less likely the doe or ewe will die.

  12. Emergency Planning for Owners of Small Ruminants or Other Livestock, November 2011

    Emergency Planning for Owners of Small Ruminants or Other Livestock

    By Jodie Pennington, Lincoln University Small Ruminant Educator,
    Newton County Extension Center, Neosho, MO 64850;
    PenningtonJ@LincolnU.edu

    Recently, I attended emergency management training for Newton and McDonald Counties. Usually when we think about emergencies, catastrophic events come to mind such as the tornado that hit Joplin or the ice storms that have gone through the southwestern part of Missouri. However, this simulated training was appropriately named Operation “County Fair” and was agriculturally oriented. It seemed to be an eye-opening experience for all, including health and emergency personnel at the training.
    The made-up situation for the training centered on a family who had migrated from a foreign country and had goats in Newton County. They had recently visited with family in their home country where foot and mouth disease was endemic and returned in time for their children to show goats at the Newton County Fair. The following week on the last day of the McDonald County Fair where they were also showing, they noticed pustules around the goat’s mouth, which prompted them to seek advice of a 4-H leader who had experience in sheep and goat health. They were advised that it was probably sore mouth and recommended to contact their local veterinarian. However, once the family returned home they opted not to call a veterinarian as they were distrustful of people coming onto their property. Two weeks later, the entire goat herd showed symptoms. Once again, the 4-H leader was called and she stressed the need for a veterinarian to see the animals. She volunteered to be at the farm when the veterinarian was present in order to calm their fears. The local vet then suspects foot and mouth disease and the vet calls the district vet from the Missouri Department of Agriculture who comes to test the animals.
    As you might imagine, the animals depicted in the fictional scenario were at both the Newton and McDonald County Fairs where other animals had been exposed and some of these animals had been to the Ozark Empire Fair at Springfield and the State Fair at Sedalia. By the time the goats were diagnosed with foot and mouth disease, other animals had been sold and had gone to several states, including states in the northeast.
    Are you prepared to deal with such an emergency situation? In most cases, the answer is “no”. Although the likelihood of a foot and mouth disease outbreak locally is very, very small, it is possible. County fairs often have animals with mild cases of sickness and it is difficult to send youth home with their animals. These animals may be contagious and may infect other animals and people at the fair. There is a need to be prepared for all types of emergencies. Some excellent web sites for disaster planning include:
    http://emergency.cdc.gov/bioterrorism/ from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
    http://mda.mo.gov/animals/pdf/animalag_guide3.pdf from the Missouri Department of Agriculture, and
    http://www.fema.gov/plan/prepare/livestock.shtm from FEMA.
    http://aes.missouri.edu/swcenter once on this page, click on Ag Preparedness link.
    Disasters can happen anywhere and include earthquakes, barn fires, hazardous material spills, fires, floods or other weather extremes, and disease, all of which may require evacuation of your family and/or animals. It is important that you be prepared to protect your family and livestock, whether by evacuating or by sheltering in place.
    Basic preparedness for an emergency requires many facets as shown on the web sites above. However, three essential parts include a disaster plan with contact information and a mobilization site, a disaster kit with essential items for the family, and a plan for handling of your livestock. Briefly, these aspects are summarized below.
    Make a disaster plan to protect your property, facilities, and animals. Create a list of emergency telephone numbers, including those of your family, neighbors, veterinarian, and local government officials.
    Include a contact person outside the disaster area. Make sure all family members have a copy of the information.
    Arrange for primary and secondary sites where you are to meet in the event that the family is separated.
    Prepare a disaster kit with items that you use daily. Place the kit in a central location and let everyone know where it is. Include food and water for the family, a basic first aid kit, cell phone, flashlights, portable radios, blankets, and batteries.
    Make sure every animal has durable and visible identification to ensure later retrieval.
    Maintain a current list of all animals, including their location and records of feeding, vaccinations, and tests. Make this information available at various locations on the farm. Make sure that you have proof of ownership for all animals.
    Evacuation of livestock facilities may be necessary. If evacuation from their facilities is not possible, a decision must be made whether to turn them outside or move them to a more appropriate location.
    Review and update your disaster plan, contact information, and supplies regularly.

  13. Hair Sheep in Missouri, July 2010

    Ag Opportunities Volume 21, Number 7 July 2010

    Hair Sheep in Missouri
    By Dr. Jodie Pennington, Regional Small Ruminant Educator
    Lincoln University Cooperative Extension

    Hair Sheep in Missouri Hair sheep are becoming more popular in Missouri, especially in the southern parts of the state. Some will appear without wool and others will have a combination of hair and wool. Although Boer goats set the standard for muscle among the goat breeds and have received much publicity in recent years, some Boer goats require more management than some other breeds of sheep and goats. Some producers wish to minimize time and management with their small ruminant enterprise. Hair sheep appear to fit this niche of requiring less management than some of the other breeds of sheep and goats. Some breeds of hair sheep originated in the dry desert lands of South Africa, and others are from the tropical areas in West Africa and were further developed in the Caribbean. The origins of the breeds determine the characteristics of the breed. A breed from South Africa, e.g., Dorper, offers the ability to survive under harsh, dry desert conditions. The breeds from the Caribbean and West Africa, e.g., Barbados Blackbelly and St. Croix, thrive under the rigors of heat, humidity and parasites. The Katahdin, which was developed in the United States, is somewhat unique in that it can thrive under diverse environmental conditions. Its heritage makes it suitable for hot, humid environments with significant parasite challenges. It was initially developed in Maine, where the northern climate makes it able to adapt to colder climates. Hair sheep are not a cross between breeds of goats and sheep. The primary difference between hair sheep and wooled sheep is the ratio of hair to wool fibers. Hair sheep have more hair fibers, and wooled sheep have more wool fibers. Wooled sheep breeds include the Suffolk, Hampshire, and Rambouillet. Hair sheep do not have to be sheared, although there are differences in shedding ability of individual animals. Some hair sheep will appear shaggy since not all of the hair will be shed. Hair sheep also do not need their tails docked, although some producers elect to dock their tails for "improved appearance." Most wooled sheep have their tails docked for improved health and sanitation. There are advantages to raising hair sheep rather than sheep with wool and some of the more muscular breeds of goats. They tend to have a high level of reproduction, with a lambing rate of 150 to 200 percent. Additionally, they are good mothers who care for their young. Hair sheep tend to have a natural resistance to internal parasites and other pests. The resistance developed as they survived in the wilds of Africa. There, they developed a greater tolerance for heat and humidity than some of the traditional sheep and goat breeds. Hair sheep lambs have a good livability rate. The growth rates of the lambs will not be as great as breeds of wooled sheep since they are not as large. Hair sheep breeds are usually not as suitable for the club lamb market as more stylish breeds of sheep. Some breeds of hair sheep can be heavily muscled but usually are not "pretty" enough to be competitive in strong market lamb shows. Hair sheep do not tend to do as well in cold weather as wooled sheep.

    Source: http://agebb.missouri.edu/mac/agopp/arc/agopp121.txt

 

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