Meningeal Worm

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Meningeal worm (Parelaphostrongylus tenuis), also known as deer worm or brain worm, is a parasite of white tail deer that typically causes disease in sheep in the late summer and fall. In deer, the adult P. tenuis worms live on the membranes covering their brains, the meninges. In most deer there is no adverse effect from the parasites. Female worms lay eggs on the meningeal membranes, they hatch, the larvae migrate into the…

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Plant Toxicity in Sheep

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Like many sheep articles, personal experience was the inspiration for this one. And like most sheep problems, the exact cause isn't certain, but the pattern of symptoms - photosensitivity and the sudden death of a few 7-month-old ram lambs - led to a suspected diagnosis of plant toxicity and photosensitivity exacerbated by a brutally hot summer. Photosensitization is an inflammation of the skin and is caused by either primary sources (e.g., direct contact…

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Where to Buy Sheep

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We often get asked "Where's the best place to buy sheep?" A lot depends on your goals and what you'll use the sheep for, but one thing is pretty much certain: Don't buy sheep from the local sale barn. Below are some of the more common sale venues with some of the pros and cons listed. Venue Pros Cons On Farm Often lowest cost option Least chance of biosecurity issues Least stress for…

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Evaluating your mineral program

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We all know that our sheep need minerals, but how do we know that we are not over- or under-supplying their needs? Mineral deficiencies can lead to disease, but too much can lead to toxicity and even death. Minerals interact with each other; high levels of molybdenum can suppress copper levels and cause copper deficiency but it is also used to protect against copper toxicity in instances where high copper levels are present.…

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Understanding “Number of Lambs Weaned” (NLW) Estimated Breeding Values

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We've been members of NSIP since 2006 and I must confess that I've never really understood what all went into the calculation of "Number of Lambs Weaned", let alone Genomically-enhanced Estimated Breeding Values (GEBV) for NLW. Seems most of my ewes had NLW GEBV that were about the same as their NLB GEBV, with a few exceptions. Some were a little lower and some were a little higher, and since they are correlated,…

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Grazing Native Warm-Season Grasses: SARE Grant Update

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In my career with USDA-NRCS I've been fortunate to see a lot of different production methods involving a variety of livestock operations across North Carolina. Beginning in 2016, I began working with more producers that had established or wanted to establish native warm-season grasses (NWSGs) in their pasture operations. Those producers mainly worked with beef cattle. These work experiences led me to want to do the same thing on our small 20-acre farm…

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Impact of NSIP Status on Ram Value

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In 2022, the Southwest Virginia Agricultural Research and Extension Center hosted its 10th ram test and sale. Over the years, the program has developed a strong reputation for the development and identification of superior rams for growth and parasite resistance in a forage-based environment. Historically, the test has included rams from NSIP flocks and some rams from flocks not enrolled in NSIP (non-NSIP). The 2022 test and sale data were analyzed to explore…

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Scours: Causes, Treatment, and Prevention

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Scours or diarrhea is something that most of us probably see in our flocks over the course of a year. Animals scour whenever there is a disturbance in the normal processes that regulate how much fluid is excreted in their manure. Scours is a symptom, sometimes due to a serious disease that requires prompt treatment, but often diet induced and transient, requiring only tincture of time to resolve. Diet plays a large role…

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It All Starts in the Rumen

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As prey animals, sheep evolved with the ability to harvest their food quickly with very little chewing, then retire to a safe place to further process their meal. Sheep are unable to directly digest the cellulose in forages and must rely on billions of microorganisms in the rumen (bacteria, protozoa and fungi) for fermentation and digestion. The byproducts of these microbes provide the sheep with needed nutrients (protein, energy, B vitamins and vitamin…

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Profile: Dr. Scott Bowdridge

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This past summer, Dr. Scott Bowdridge, Associate Professor of Food Animal Production, West Virginia University, opened our minds to his exciting research identifying immune mechanisms in sheep to eliminate parasitic infections. At the 2022 Eastern Alliance for Production Katahdins (EAPK) symposium he discussed his data that links low FEC EBVs (Fecal Egg Count Estimated Breeding Values) with an overall increase in disease resistance. Dr. Bowdridge has diverse experiences working as a sheep producer,…

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