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Straight Talk: March 2016

Some days you just have to wonder. I am often accused of being outspoken. I am.  If there is an issue affecting the sheep and goat industry or life itself I will have an opinion and express it. The sheep industry is now being threatened by the new VFD rules that are of bureaucratic origin, not based on science and written with the cooperation of the feed manufacturers organization with little concern over effects on the American livestock industry and no concern for minor species which have no way to fund approval of drugs and have been insulted even further by failing to fund a program that was put into place to make approval for minor species easier. I would question if that program was designed to be producer friendly as well. You may like or dislike Donald Trump but this type of bureaucratic government overreach is exactly why he is doing well. Two years ago at the ASI health committee meeting I was refused to express my concerns.  This year it was the topic front and center but still, nothing has changed. They invited the guy in that helped write the law to speak. Fox guarding the hen house door. He promised to get things changed.  We will see or will it be business as usual. There are people trying to get things changed but if we could have started two years ago it would have made more sense.

It is a time that ASI become more concerned about the 95% of the sheep producers that have less than 100 ewes. The lamb market seems to be continually depressed by one major packer that manages to keep their coolers full of lamb (American and imported) there by backing up the lambs in the feed lots to further depress the market. The small producer as well as the large producer feels the impact of this practice.

While I am expressing disappointment how long is it going to take to wake up nutritionists to the fact you can’t add phosphorus to sheep and goat rations to be fed to male animals. While I can understand the smaller producer getting suckered in by wanting to do the best for his animals by offering mineral I still find nutritionists adding phosphorus to large scale commercial feed lot rations. There is no place for dical or monocalcium phosphate in any sheep ration being fed to male sheep and goats. Any mineral that is fed the consumption is based totally on salt content and added flavoring agents, not need. Iodine and selenium are the only minerals needed with the exception of goats that require copper. Don’t feed copper to sheep.

Salt, let’s talk about it, it’s essential and should always be offered as loose salt and always available. It is an excellent product to provide selenium and iodine and some producers use it to deliver Deccox.

Recently, I had a goat presented to me that was acting strange, refused to get up but was standing and acting normal.  Upon further examination, I extrude his penis and sure enough in the appendage on the end was a small hard spot. I pinched it off and in the process removed a calculi about the size of no. 4 shot but was white instead of lead. Point being the guy had two goats, he had got them a salt block and was feeding them mineral. He thought he was doing the right thing. We put the goat on ammonium chloride, loose salt and took the mineral away, hopefully the outcome will be good. Quite a few years back I did the same thing to the Champion Corriedale Ram at the South Dakota State Fair.

Now to the FAMACHA topic.  If your child was wormy, would you in effect wait till he was anemic to treat him.  It is not effective.  It is an animal welfare issue as well.  The other aspects, any chronic disease will eventually result in anemia.  Johne’s Disease would be a classic example. The parasite resistance problem is the direct result of FAMACHA and indiscriminate use of ivomectin with disregard to management. Just give them a shot and the problem is over. Wait a minute, the problem came back and this time with a vengeance. Every flock is different and every management scheme is different but each flock needs its own management scheme and they need to be changed to compensate for ivomectin resistance. There again, there are rumors the government is getting involved.  Good luck with that one.  The parasites are at work 24 hours a day 365 days a year. What is my plan? There is no one specific plan but there are some things we do know, lactating ewes and lambs are highly vulnerable. In most of the country where crop farming occurs, lambs and pasture are not compatible. Hair sheep, Katahdins and St Croix have shown some resistance. I would say not true for Dorpers. Goats are extremely susceptible.

The Pipestone Shepherd’s Club membership is growing every day and we have had three webinars so far with excellent participation. Next one will be later part of April with parasites as the topic. We will try to do webinars on current topics whenever we feel there is a need and interest.

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