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Virginia Cooperative Extension -
 Knowledge for the CommonWealth

Sheep Update

Livestock Update, June 2003

Scott Greiner, Extension Animal Scientist, Beef, VA Tech

2003 Virginia Ram Lamb Performance Test Begins
A total of 73 rams from 16 Virginia consignors were delivered April 29 to the Virginia Sheep Evaluation Station located at the Shenandoah Valley Agricultural Research and Extension Center near Steeles Tavern, VA. Breeds of rams consigned include: 49 Suffolk, 14 Dorset (both fall and winter-born), 7 Hampshire, and 3 Dorper. After a two-week adjustment period, performance will be measured over a 63-day gain test. At the completion of the test, rams will be evaluated for reproductive and structural soundness. The top 60 eligible rams will sell at the station on Saturday, August 23. Complete performance information will be available on all rams, including ultrasonic estimates of carcass merit. For information please contact Scott Greiner, phone 540-231-9159.

2003 Virginia-North Carolina Wool Pool
The Virginia-North Carolina Wool Pool will be marketing wool to Mid-States Wool Growers Cooperative Association based in Canal Winchester, Ohio. Each pool will sell wool on either a cash or grade and yield basis. Producers are encouraged to package, handle and store their wool in an appropriate manner in order to maximize the value of their wool clip. Wool should be packaged by type/grade (ewe vs. lamb wool, long staple vs. short wools, fine vs. medium wools) in plastic bags, and be clean, dry, and have foreign material (straw, mud, manure) removed prior to packaging. Following is a list of local pool delivery dates, and locations where wool will be picked up by Mid-States:

June 17- Augusta Co., VA
June 18- Orange, VA
June 19- Farmville, VA
June 24- Wytheville, VA
June 25- Christiansburg, VA
June 26- Clarke Co., VA
July 1- Highland Co., VA
July 10- Lebanon, VA
July 17- Tazewell, VA
July 22- Williamston, NC
July 23- Sparta, NC
July 24- Asheville, NC
July 25- Albemarle, NC

To confirm the above dates, and for more information regarding specific times and locations, contact your local Virginia Cooperative Extension Office.

Tips for Successful Internal Parasite Control
Internal parasites are a potential source of economic losses for sheep producers during the spring and summer months. Parasitic infestation can result in decreased production of ewes and lambs on pasture through reduced milk production and poor weight gains, and even mortality in extreme cases. The two most significant parasite impacting sheep in Virginia is Haemonchus contortus. These worms thrive under warm and moist conditions of late spring and summer, which emphasizes the importance of an effective parasite control program as sheep go to pasture. Approved dewormers for use in sheep include Levamisole (Levasole and Tramisol), Ivermectin (Ivomec Sheep Drench), and Albenazole (Valbazen). Keep in mind that all other products are currently not labeled for sheep, and must be prescribed and administered under veterinary direction. Following are a few tips for a successful sheep deworming strategy:

  1. Deworm the flock on a regular basis. Be sure to record the date of treatment so a schedule can be followed. This is especially important when the dose and move system is not applicable due to limited pasture availability. Normally sheep should be treated every three to four weeks. Frequency of deworming will be related to stocking rate, age of sheep, breed of sheep, weather, and pasture worm load. In many cases, deworming only a few days late can result in anemia and reduced performance, particularly in lambs.
  2. Use pasture management to enhance the effectiveness of a deworming program. The practice of "dose and move" can reduce the dependence on anthelmentic drugs to prevent and treat parasites by reducing the number of parasites sheep are exposed to. Using the dose and move technique, sheep are moved to a clean pasture after treatment. A clean pasture may be one that has been harvested for hay, previously grazed by cattle, or been without sheep for a year. A clean pasture does not ensure that infective larvae are not present, but has infectivity low enough that susceptible sheep do not become infected rapidly. A strategic deworming protocol must still be followed after moving the sheep.
  3. Lower stocking rates will reduce the intensity of the deworming program. Fewer sheep result in fewer shed worm eggs within a given area, thereby reducing parasite loads. This in turn may reduce the frequency of deworming, and help minimize developed resistance.
  4. Administer the proper dose. Be sure to estimate the weight of the sheep accurately. Dose the sheep for the heaviest in the group, not the average. Dosages given that are inadequate for the body weight of the sheep are not only less effective on decreasing worm loads, but may also enhance parasite resistance to the drugs.Rotate dewormers annually. This means that if you used Ivermectin last year, switch to Levamisole this year. Rotating anthelmentics on an every other year basis will help prevent parasites from developing resistance to the product.
  5. Deworm the entire flock (or group of sheep grazing the same pasture). For a parasite control program to be effective, it is important to include all of the sheep. Lambs should be treated beginning at around six weeks of age. Mature ewes are more tolerant to high worm loads than are lambs.
  6. When introducing new sheep to the flock, deworm with the most effective product available. New sheep should be isolated a minimum of 30 days prior to introduction. Mixing untreated sheep with sheep on the deworming program may destroy earlier efforts to minimize worm loads in the flock.

2003 Virginia State Fair Youth Market Lamb & Commercial Ewe Lamb Nomination Schedule
Locations for identification and weighing of market lambs and commercial ewe lambs for the 2003 Virginia State Fair Youth Sheep Show have been set. Nominations will take place at various locations around the state between July 19 and July 28. All youth who plan to exhibit market lambs and/or commercial ewe lambs at the 2003 Virginia State Fair are required to weigh and identify their lambs at one of the following sites:

Date & Time Location
Shenandoah Valley/Northern Virginia- Contact Person: Corey Childs, (540) 635-4549,
Saturday, July 19
9:00 - 11:00 a.m.
Rockingham Livestock Market Harrisonburg, VA
Monday, July 21
6:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Clarke County Fairgrounds Berryville, VA
Monday, July 28
4:00 - 7:00 p.m.
Shenandoah Valley Ag Research & Extension Center Steeles Tavern, VA
Central Virginia- Contact Person: Brad Jarvis, (540) 948-6881,
Monday, July 28
1:00 - 2:00 p.m.
Young Farmers Grounds Madison, VA
Southwest Virginia- Contact Person: Matthew Miller, (276) 728-7611,
Saturday, July 19
10:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon.
New River Valley Fairgrounds Dublin, VA
Monday, July 21
1:00 - 4:00 p.m.
Graystone Farm Wytheville, VA
Wednesday, July 23
9:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Washington County Fairgrounds Abingdon, VA
Eastern Virginia- Contact Person: Kelly Liddington, (804) 333-3420,
*exhibitors planning to nominate lambs at Richmond County need to contact Kelly Liddington by July 10
Saturday, July 19
10:00 - 11:00 a.m.
Richmond County Extension Office Warsaw, VA
Tidewater Region- Contact Person: Cynthia Gregg, (434) 848-2151,
Wednesday, July 23
6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
Virginia Tech Tidewater Center Research Farm near Holland, VA

For directions to a nomination site, please call the contact person listed.

Nomination procedures:

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