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Posts Tagged: sheep

Madera farmer says feeding sprouted grain to sheep improves milk quality

Hydroponically grown sprouts at six days old. (Photo: Dan Putnam)
A Madera farmer is sprouting barley hydroponically inside shipping containers on his farm to produce feed for his sheep, reported Ezra David Romero on Valley Public Radio.

“I think that's a big advantage if you don't have a lot of land,” the farmer said. “You can produce a tremendous amount of feed in a very, very small area with a very little amount of water.”

However, UC Cooperative Extension alfalfa specialist Dan Putnam noted in the story that the system may not pencil out.

"If you really apply a little bit of economics to it and animal nutrition to it, it doesn't appear quite as promising as one might think," Putnam said.

There is no question that animals find the sprouted barely delicious. Online videos show cattle and horses "gobbling up sprouted grain like a vegetarian at a salad bar," Putnam wrote in a 2013 blog post that asked Does hydroponic forage production make sense? Things are not always as they seem. Animal ration calculations are based on dry matter since water is provided separately. 

"A feed with 90 percent water (such as sprouted grain) has considerably less 'feed value' than something with only 5 percent water (such as the grain itself), on a pound for pound basis," Putnam's blog post says.

Feeding sheep sprouted barley makes sense to Mario Daccarett, the owner of the Golden Valley Farm. He said cheese made from his sheep's creamy milk is sold in places like Whole Foods.

"They have our cheese there and they tell me that our Golden Ewe cheese is the best for grilled cheese sandwich ever, and they have over 500 different varieties of cheese there," Daccarett said.

The farmer feeds his sheep one part oats and hay and one part sprouted barley.

“You do the math and you say, 'Well, yeah, it might not work,' but once we started doing it we found out that sheep tend to eat less, more nutrition, more enzymes,” Daccarett said. “So they become more efficient.”

Posted on Friday, June 24, 2016 at 2:55 PM
Tags: Dan Putnam (8), hydroponic (1), sheep (4)

Mendocino County no longer to contract with USDA Wildlife Services

Mendocino County supervisors decided to sever ties with the USDA's division of Wildlife Services, reported Peter Fimrite in the San Francisco Chronicle. The decision was made after environmental groups said the agency was indiscriminately killing predators, such as mountain lions and coyotes, because they are a threat to livestock.

The article featured a gallery of 10 artful photos taken at the UC Hopland Research and Extension Center, which maintains a research sheep flock of 500 breeding ewes. Record-keeping of sheep losses to predators began at Hopland in 1973. Coyotes are the most serious predator problem.

Hopland staff use a variety of non-lethal and preventative methods to protect sheep from predators, such as fencing, mob grazing and frequent pasture rotation and guard dogs, according to Kim Rodrigues, the director of the research and extension facility. Currently there are five guard dogs at the center. The guard dogs bond with sheep and protect them primarily by barking and other aggressive behaviors when strangers or predators are near the sheep flock.

A guard dog protects sheep at the UC Hopland Research and Extension Center. (Photo: Robert J. Keiffer)
Posted on Wednesday, April 27, 2016 at 9:46 AM

Non-lethal predator wildlife control helps keep livestock safe

A coyote very near one of HREC's main pastures that holds lambs. (Photo: Robert J. Keiffer)
Five guard dogs are part of the team protecting sheep at a UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) research center in Mendocino County. The director of the UC Hopland Research and Extension Center (HREC) Kim Rodriguez is optimistic the dogs and other non-lethal wildlife control efforts being used at the station will allow peaceful grazing animals to share land with natural predators, reported Sarah Reith in the Ukiah Daily Journal.

Rodrigues initiated a new standard operating procedure (SOP) at Hopland early this year for predator animal control. The policy involves guard dogs, improved fencing and pasture management to protect sheep from coyotes, rather than shooting the predators. Jim Lewers, senior animal technician at HREC, said the "losses have declined" since the new policy was put in place. 

Hannah Bird, HREC community educator, said 10 sheep at the center were killed by coyotes in 2015, while 43 were killed in 2014.

Rodrigues told the reporter that it is hard to attribute declines in animal deaths to a single strategy. She hopes to eventually make Hopland a hub for research and information sharing with local landowners on wildlife control.

That effort begins next week. On Dec. 1 and 2, HREC will offer two separate workshops on wildlife management. The first day will include representatives from USDA Wildlife Services, the California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, and Defenders of Wildlife. On the second day, local ranchers and UC ANR representatives will speak about their chosen methods of wildlife management. Registration is $30 per day. Registration for the two days is separate, and the deadline is Saturday, Nov. 28. 

Click here to register for the Dec. 1 workshop.

Click here to register for the Dec. 2 workshop.

Posted on Wednesday, November 25, 2015 at 9:20 AM
Tags: coyotes (7), Hannah Bird (4), Kim Rodrigues (2), sheep (4)

Ultra-short tail docking gets a withering glare

In the coming months, UC veterinarians and animal-welfare experts hope to develop new tail-docking recommendations for sheep being raised by 4-H youth, the Fresno Bee reported on Dec. 22. Currently, many sheep meant for county fair competition suffer "ultra-short tail docking," the story said. The practice is not looked upon favorably by UC Davis Cooperative Extension animal welfare specialist Carolyn Stull.

"This is purely a cosmetic procedure and does not advance the welfare of the animal," Stull was quoted. "We really want to focus on what is best for the animal's welfare. And we know that ultra-short tail docking is not."

Ultra-short tail docking means the tail is cut off where it connects to the animal's rump, not leaving the inch or two typically remaining after commercial tail docking. It is designed to give the animal a stronger, more muscular appearance. Veterinarians say it can cause rectal prolapse, but one sheep breeder told Bee reporter Robert Rodriguez that show judges like the look.

The article said 4-H program leaders support the effort for a new tail-docking policy.

"Many of our 4-H members today purchase their lambs already docked, so we want them to know what to look for," the story quoted Steve Dasher, the 4-H Youth Development advisor in San Diego County. "Also, for those that raise their own lambs, we want them to implement those practices that are approved by the experts."

Jim Sullins, director of UC Cooperative Extension in Tulare County, said the 4-H program needs to do a better job of educating students and their families about the risks of ultra-short tail docking. But it will not be easy.

"This is a very competitive environment, and if a procedure is being rewarded by the judges, then that procedure is going to continue," Sullins was quoted.

Coincidentally, on Jan. 1 a new law went into effect that banned docking dairy cow tails. The law, which was initially mocked by Gov. Schwarzenegger last year when lawmakers were struggling to balance the state budget, makes California the first state to ban what the Associated Press called a "painful practice." The dairy industry was not in favor of the law's passage, contending that cutting off cow tails to prevent them from slinging manure was already uncommon.

Last year, the UCCE dairy farm advisor for Tulare County, Noelia Silva-del-Río, surveyed San Joaquin and Sacramento valley dairies to document the prevalence of cow tail docking. She reported in her October 2009 California Dairy Newsletter that 286,949 cows - 7.4 percent of cows in the survey - had docked tails.

Science-based animal care guidelines are available on the UC Davis Veterinary Medicine Extension Web page dedicated to animal welfare.

An undated photo of a show ram with no visible tail.
An undated photo of a show ram with no visible tail.

Posted on Tuesday, January 5, 2010 at 7:56 AM
Tags: 4-H (55), animal welfare (14), cow (1), dairy (24), sheep (4), tail docking (1)
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