Alternative Feeds: Is Variety the Spice of Life?

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When it comes to sheep feed…it depends. With staggering increases in feed costs due to inflation, supply chain disruptions, impacts of international conflicts affecting energy, grain and fertilizer production along with regional weather events, now might be a good time to investigate alternative feeds. Alternative feeds are those that are not commonly used on a regular basis as part of the usual livestock feed ration and are often cheaper than typical feed, such…

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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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The Value in the Veterinary-Client-Patient Relationship

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I value my veterinarian's time and expertise. She works extremely hard, often taking appointments starting at 8 AM, and is still making phone calls on case notes at 8 PM! By law, in order for her to prescribe medications for my sheep, we need to maintain a Veterinary-Client-Patient Relationship (VCPR). I do sometimes bring sheep into her clinic for diagnosis or treatment. But I also make sure to pay for her time to…

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Lamb Grafting Tips

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Grafting is a practice that may take a little extra effort on the front end, but can help to avoid problems in the long run. The grafting methods and tips below work best for us in our management system and may work for you. Reasons and Methods of Grafting Lambs There are several reasons to graft lambs. Ewes may have too many lambs, or there may be one lamb who is much smaller…

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Udder Health in Ewes: Mastitis, Udder Scores and Management

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Ewes only have two teats and hopefully raise at least twin lambs, so maintaining healthy udders and culling ewes with udder problems is important to minimize lamb losses and bottle lambs while ensuring optimal growth of lambs on your farm. Mastitis leads to lower weaning weights in lambs of affected dams, takes time and money for treatment, as well as slowing down genetic progress due to forced culling of ewes. Rates of mastitis…

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Prolapses in Sheep

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There are three structures that can prolapse and be visible under a ewe's tail: vagina, uterus and rectum. Vaginal and uterine prolapses can affect ewes around lambing and will be discussed here. Vaginal Prolapse    A vaginal prolapse occurs when a ewe's vagina protrudes out of her vulva. Most prolapses occur in the last few days or weeks of pregnancy. It usually starts with the ewe laying down and you just see a…

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The Shepherd’s Toolbox: Supplies to have on-hand before you need them

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Fall and early Winter, when the seasonal workload lessens, is often a good time to focus on our sheep supply inventory. We usually think of this when getting ready for lambing, but as shepherds we should always be prepared throughout the year for emergencies, mishaps, and unforeseen circumstances. Having some key supplies on-hand can prevent undue delay in necessary treatment and management of your flock. Following is a list of important items shepherds…

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Pregnancy Diagnosis

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There are various options for diagnosing pregnancy in sheep. The cost/benefit analysis for doing this procedure depends on what you are going to do with the information. Your reasons for doing pregnancy diagnosis will also dictate which method you want to employ. In general, the earlier in pregnancy the diagnosis is made, the larger the risk of false positive results due to early embryonic loss. If avoiding false positive pregnancy diagnosis is essential…

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