Jupe Allen, a veterinarian and Dorper sheep breeder from Parsons, Kansas spoke at the Southeast Research and Extension Center where he shared his hair sheep formula for success.
Allen markets his ram lambs through a value-added marketing style program. Consumers pay a premium for welfare-oriented practices which includes no tail docking, castration or antibiotics.
Marketing plays the biggest role in his profitability, while attention to flock health and nutrition helps him to provide a quality product.
Allen was an advocate for rigorous quarantine protocols to reduce herd health dilemmas. When new sheep and goats are bought and brought to the farm, Allen vaccinates them for CDT, deworms them and then keeps them under strict quarantine for 30 days.
When an ewe needs to be dewormed, Allen marks her and if the same ewe has to be dewormed a second time he will sell her.
Allen advises producers to find a management level that suits their own operation and their individual goals. Goats and sheep can thrive with little attention or nutrition; alternatively they can be a luxury product.
Alison Crane, Kansas State University’s sheep and goat nutrition specialist, spoke about key nutrition concerns for producers.
Her advice to producers is to place water intake at the top of their priorities lists before considering feedstuffs.
When managing small ruminants, Crane says that quantity is most often more important than quality, since grass alone is often nutritionally adequate for sheep and goats. With low quality forage, sometimes more additional forms of protein need to be supplied, especially as the needs of the animal changes through different production stages.
Crane also stated that producers should consider energy over protein since inadequate energy can limit performance more than any other nutritional deficiency.
Late gestation and early lactation are critical times in terms of health for both mature ewes and does, as well as their offspring.
One of the most common health issues in sheep and goats is pregnancy toxemia. Pregnancy toxemia or ketosis can cause downer ewes or lambs and even death if left untreated.
Ignoring signs of distress in pregnant ewes or does can lead to devastating consequences, but is an avoidable problem if energy requirements and gut fill are properly accounted for. A key point of focus is that their diet has to become much more concentrated in energy.
Once healthy lambs or kids are born, Crane said that offering free choice creep feed within the first seven days of a lamb or kid’s life is extremely important. The earlier lambs or kids feed or experiment with feed, will enable them to go through the weaning process much easier and with less stress.
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