Goat, sheep producers learn management practices at field day

Tobie Blanchard, Hay, Gary M., Twidwell, Edward K.

News Release Distributed 05/02/14

BATON ROUGE, La. – Goat and sheep producers gathered at the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine on April 26 for a small ruminant field day.

Participants learned about biosecurity measures to keep their animals safe and healthy, ways to improve their pastures, parasite control and managing cattle and small ruminants together.

Matt Welborn, a professor in LSU Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, spoke about the need for good biosecurity on the farm.

“Biosecurity is the most cost-effective form of contagious disease control once a system is in place,” Welborn said.

Using the acronym SIT, Welborn stressed the need for good Sanitation, Isolation and Traffic control. He said most people realize the importance of a clean operation but said a common mistake producers make is not quarantining new animals that come onto the farm or animals that have been at livestock shows.

“Those animals should be treated as if they were sick and kept in isolation for about 30 days,” Welborn said.

Traffic control, Welborn explained, limits farm visitors or involves making sure visitors wash their hands or wear booties on their shoes if they’ve recently been on other farms.

LSU AgCenter forage specialist Ed Twidwell told participants they should treat their pastures or hay fields as if it were a crop.

“Your forage program drives your production,” he said.

Twidwell recommended taking a soil test on the pasture to make sure it receives adequate nutrients. He also cautioned against using grasses that aren’t suited for Louisiana.

“There are certain plant species that are very adapted to this area, and some that are not. Use the adapted ones,” Twidwell said.

Parasitic worms can be a problem for goat and sheep producers. James Miller, a professor of veterinary parasitology, said people who raise sheep and goats need to manage the “worm farm” on their animal farms.

“Genetic selection can help identify animals that don’t have to worry about worms,” Miller said.

Miller also conducted FAMACHA certification training during the field day for interested participants. FAMACHA is a diagnostic tool based on the color of an animal’s lower inner eyelid mucous membrane. It is used to tell which animals may be infected with the barberpole worm, which causes anemia. Then, only animals that appear infected are treated for worms.

Renita Marshall, a veterinarian with Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center, said goats raised with cattle often have fewer problems with worms and better body weight.

She explained that goats browse the tops of grasses, and cattle graze at the bottom, where worms are more likely to be. This keeps the goats from getting infected with the worms.

J.A. Girgenti has a cattle ranch in Amite but also raises about 25 to 30 sheep. He attended the field day to learn more.

“If you are not open-minded or receptive, you can become stagnant,” he said.

Gary Hay, director of the LSU AgCenter School of Animal Sciences, said the school is rebuilding its small-ruminant program.

“The goat industry is growing rapidly,” Hay said. “We are buying more goats and will have more research projects.”

The small-ruminant field day was sponsored by the LSU AgCenter, the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine and Southern University Agriculture Research and Extension Center.

Tobie Blanchard
5/2/2014 12:11:22 AM
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