Protecting Your Flock from Disease

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Disease is present in every flock and can reside in the animals, soil, air, and water. Producers don't often talk about illnesses affecting their sheep because they don't want the stigma of disease to reflect negatively on their flock. But producers shouldn't have to deal with the problem alone. Let's accept the fact that disease is inevitable, remove the stigma, and learn how we can prevent or mitigate disease transmission in our flocks.…

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Ovine Progressive Pneumonia (OPP)

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Most shepherds have probably heard of OPP as it is one of the three diseases included in the biosecurity panels that many laboratories offer. The USDA Sheep 2001 study tested over 21,000 samples from 682 randomly selected flocks country wide to collect data on the prevalence of OPP. They found that 36.4% of flocks had one or more animals that tested positive and overall, 24.2% of the animals tested were positive for OPP.…

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Evaluating Online Sheep Experts

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With decreasing numbers of sheep extension agents, sheep research professors and small ruminant DVMs, our options for finding knowledgeable experts are becoming more limited. At the same time, the number of sheep "experts" on Facebook, YouTube and other social media is growing exponentially. Today, sheep producers are able to obtain "expert" advice from across the country or around the world in a matter of seconds. While advances in technology have shaped the way…

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Small Flock Pasture Management

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At weaning time, you will need your best pastures in tip top shape for your lambs to continue growing. Your free input resource must be managed throughout the late spring and summer. This can be challenging with limited equipment and modest grazing space. Rotational grazing techniques are helpful and can be complimented with proactive management. Early in the warmer seasons, cool season grasses and forbs are dominant and provide great forage. As the temperatures climb, the availability…

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Small Flock Weaning Considerations

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Weaning lambs on a small farm can be a challenging endeavor. Being limited on space and supplies, such as electric fencing, means careful planning must take place to manage the two groups separately. There are various ways to wean lambs off of their dams. The approach you choose may vary from year to year depending on the mix of ewe and ram lambs per dam, the ages of the lambs, changes in the…

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Shepherd to Shepherd: Producer Forum #2

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For our second producer forum we asked our four shepherds what data they collect besides that used for NSIP; how they manage their data; what software programs they use; and how they analyze and use their data to make selection decisions.  Michelle Canfield, Canfield Farms, Western Washington I use Ranch Manager for my day-to-day husbandry records. Mostly what I keep in here are records of medical treatments & other events; location of sheep…

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Preparations for Sale Season

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In this blog, EAPK member Becky Shultz of Prairie Lane Farm shares some tips and suggestions for preparing sheep for marketing and transport to sales.     Sale season is quickly approaching and we all begin to think about how to market and present our Katahdins. NSIP data has been submitted and we have selected our top individuals that will be the best prospects for other breeders. We like to choose animals with good EBVs…

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Scale Options for On-Farm Use

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A producer needs a way to weigh animals when they want to understand how well their lambs are growing, and when to take them to market. There are a variety of reasons to weigh animals, depending on what data you are collecting and what results you want to be able to achieve from it. Before we were involved in the National Sheep Improvement Program (NSIP), we just wanted to know weights between 30…

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Small Flock Lambing Facilities

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The versatility of sheep offers a gateway into sustainable land management and food production, a low input meat source and an overall easy-care animal for a variety of individuals. As the number of small-flock EAPK members increases, the appeal for a befitting column has cropped up. Whether you are a new shepherd, small holder, homesteader, CSA farmer, or hobby farmer, there are some unique features to how small producers operate. As small producers,…

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