Monday, June 15, 2020
Start of 2020 Research Program
Seventy-nine Katahdin ram lambs were delivered to the University of Maryland's Western Maryland Research & Education Center today. The lambs are from Ewe Lamb Right Farm (Dan & Jan Turner) in Shippensburg, PA. Ewe Lamb Right Farm is a pasture-based farm with approximately 250 Katahdin breeding ewes. The flock is enrolled in the National Sheep Improvement Program (NSIP) and submits data for parasite resistance (fecal egg counts).
Jan and Dan Turner (Ewe Lamb Right Farm)
The average age of the lambs is 97.1 ± 14.9 days. They range in age from 75 to 120 days. The median age is 94 days. Weights ranged from 39.4 to 91.2 lbs. and averaged 66.7 ± 12.7 lbs. The median weight was 68.6 lbs. After weighing, FAMACHA© and body condition scores were determined. FAMACHA© scores ranged from 1 to 3 and averaged 1.6 ± 0.6. The median FAMACHA© score was 2. No lamb required deworming. Body condition scores ranged from 2 to 3.5 and averaged 3.0 ± 0.4. The median body condition score was 3. A fecal sample was collected from each lamb.
After handling, the lambs were put into a silvopasture area. After an acclimation period, they will be divided into two groups for the experiment. Half of the lambs will graze only. The other half will graze similar pastures and receive a daily supplement of whole barley. The pastures are a mixture of various cool season grasses, legumes, and forbs. The lambs will be handled every two weeks to determine body weights and assess health, including the need to deworm.
The Five Point Check©, including FAMACHA© will be used to make deworming decisions. Per the recommendation of the American Consortium for Small Ruminant Parasite Control (ACSRPC; wormx.info), any lamb requiring deworming will be given a combination treatment of two or more dewormers. It is not known if the parasite challenge will be sufficient to determine the effect of diet supplementation on parasite resistance (fecal egg count) and resilience (FAMACHA©). Fecal samples will be collected several times during the experiment. The samples will be analyzed by Dr. Dahlia O'Brien's lab at Virginia State University.
At the end of the grazing period, fifteen or more lambs from each group will be harvested (locally) to collect carcass data. A sample will be collected from each carcass for fatty acid analysis.
Ewe Lamb Right Farm reaches 1.4lbs/day!
If you are following the WMREC Research Blog https://wmrecresearch.blogspot.com/, here is a little more info that we have been provided. After 11 days of all 79 ram lambs grazing together in a silvopasture (pasture in a wooded area), the average weight gain for each animal was 5.9 pounds. The average daily gain was 0.543 lbs/day. It was exciting for us to find out that 9 rams gained 1 lb. or more per day, with 3 rams over 1.4 lbs/day. That is hard to believe for lambs averaging 110 days old and after being moved to strange surroundings. On the other hand, there were obviously a few losers, who did not take the move as well. There were 8 rams that averaged below .1 lb/day and 5 that actually lost weight in the initial acclamation period. These are actual weights - they are not adjusted. On June 26th, the rams were split into 2 groups where they will graze similar pastures, though one group will get supplemented with barley. We should be getting an update every 2 weeks so we may have an update this week. Will the same rams keep up the pace? Breeding lambs will be for sale early this fall after the trial is over.