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 Knowledge for the CommonWealth

Sheep Update

Livestock Update, January 1997

Steve Umberger, Animal and Poultry Sciences

NATIONAL SHEEP REFERENDUM FAILS TO PASS. On December 10, 1996, the American Sheep Industry Association received unofficial word from USDA that the National Sheep Checkoff Referendum failed by a narrow margin. A thorough examination and auditing of the voting and referendum results has not been completed, which means the official results will not be made available until sometime in early 1997. The defeat of the referendum eliminated any comprehensive approach to fund a National Board for lamb and wool promotion, research, and education. The vote had no effect on the Virginia Sheep Industry Referendum, which passed in October 1995.

VIRGINIA SHEEP PRODUCERS ASSOCIATION ENDORSES VIRGINIA SCRAPIE FLOCK QUARANTINE. At their annual Board of Directors meeting held at Virginia Tech on Thursday, December 5, the Virginia Sheep Producers Association endorsed the recommendation made by the Virginia Scrapie Advisory Committee that the Virginia State Veterinarian place all present and future sheep or goat flocks diagnosed with scrapie under quarantine. Under the quarantine, no animals would be allowed to move from the farm until the producer met the requirements set forth by the Virginia Scrapie Advisory Committee in conjunction with the State Veterinarian's office. The final decision on this recommendation will be made by the Virginia Commissioner of Agriculture.

WELDON DEAN NAMED ROY A. MEEK OUTSTANDING SHEEP PRODUCER AWARD RECIPIENT. Weldon Dean, a sheep producer in Rockingham County, was named the Roy A. Meek Outstanding Sheep Producer at the 1996 Virginia-North Carolina Shepherds' Symposium held at Virginia Tech on December 5-6. He and his wife started in the sheep business in 1986 with a flock of 150 Suffolk and Suffolk-cross ewes, which has since grown to a total of 240 head.. To help increase the profitability of their operation, they increased their flock lambing percentage through the incorporation of Romanov breeding into their crossbred replacement ewes. As a result, their overall flock lambing percentage increased by 25%, which raised the average flock weaning percentage to 200%. Lambs are finished to market weight in dry lot using a high grain diet. To help increase the volume and quality of their hay and forage production, Matua grass is planted for winter feeding. Mr. Dean is an active supporter of the Rockingham Sheep Producers Association and serves as its Treasurer and Wool Pool Manager. He is supportive of Extension educational efforts and is presently participating in a three-year demonstration of the effects of fall fertilization on cool season grass pastures.

NAXCEL APPROVED FOR TREATMENT OF SHEEP BACTERIAL PNEUMONIA. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved Naxcel Sterile Powder (ceftiofur sodium) for treatment of bacterial pneumonia in sheep. The clearance makes Naxcel one of the few injectable antibiotics with FDA approval for use in sheep. It has been proven safe and effective for treating ovine bacterial pneumonia caused by two of the disease's common pathogens, Pasteurella haemolytica and Pasteurella multocida. Naxcel is available by prescription through a licensed veterinarian. Available in one- and four-gram bottles, the labeled dosage for sheep is 1 to 2 mL reconstituted sterile solution per 100 pounds of body weight.

LAMB ARTIFICIAL REARING CHECKLIST. Artificial rearing of lambs does not have to be labor intensive or accompanied by high levels of lamb death loss. With 1996 average lamb prices in excess of $.91 per pound, every lamb saved results in increased profitability for the producer. Advances in the production of high quality commercial lamb milk replacers, techniques that reduce labor through the use of self-feeding equipment, the use of early weaning, and the application of certain well-timed management practices make artificial rearing a practical and profitable alternative. Using results from a Virginia Tech study, the actual time necessary to adjust 50 or fewer lambs to milk replacer, mixing milk replacer, cleaning equipment, and the general observation of lambs for health and thriftiness is approximately 1.5 hours daily. With a retail price of $30 for a 25 lb bag of milk replacer, lambs reared artificially can be successfully weaned to dry feed at an average cost of approximately $25 per head. Using average flock production costs in Virginia, the cost of twin-born lambs reared on the ewe to the same live weight as lambs reared artificially is $25 to 30 per head. Therefore, with proper management, orphan or mismothered lambs can be successfully reared on milk replacer at a similar cost to the ewe. Consequently, sheep producers with flocks having a high percentage of multiple births should consider artificial rearing on a self-feeding system as a means to save more lambs and increase profitability through a higher percentage of lambs marketed. Shown below is an artificial rearing checklist for lambs reared on self-feeding buckets. For more information, contact a local Virginia Cooperative Extension Office.

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