Friday, July 6, 2018

5th Weighing

The lambs were weighed for the 5th time today. Gain was significantly higher, as compared to the previous two weigh periods.  The oat pasture has been depleted and the lambs have been grazing cool season perennials in the silvopasture area. Now, the lambs are grazing a paddock of dwarf pearl millet. Feed was increased to 2.5 lbs. per head per day, 2-3% of body weight. The ration, a mixture of whole barley, soybean meal, and minerals, is split into two equal feedings.

The lambs are getting BIG!

For the two week period of June 21-July 5, gain ranged from 4.2 to 18.7 lbs. and averaged 11.9 ± 3.5 lbs. The median gain was 11.9 lbs. One of the ram lambs lost weight, due to an injury. With the injured ram lamb removed from the data set, ADG ranged from 0.300 to 1.34 lb/d and averaged 0.872 ± 0.203. The median ADG was 0.852 lb/d. All of the lambs had FAMACHA© scores of 1 or 2; none required deworming.

For the 5th weigh period, the short scrotum rams (n=17) had the highest ADG: 1.002 ± 0.178 lb/d. The ram lambs (n=19) had the lowest ADG: 0.726 ± 0.328 lb/d. If the injured ram lamb is removed from the data set, the ram lambs' ADG improves to 0.783 ± 0.221. The ADG of the wether lambs (n=24) was intermediate at 0.846 ± 0.163 lb/d.

For the entire 70 days of the project, the lambs have gained an average of 42.0 ± 6.5 lbs. Gain has ranged from 21.2 to 57.7 lbs. per lamb. ADG has ranged from 0.303 to 0.824 lb/d and averaged 0.601
± 0.093 lb/d. So far, the highest ADG belongs to the short scrotum ram lambs: 0.645
± 0.067 lb/d. 

The ram lambs and wethers are gaining similarly: 0.586 ± 0.105 lb/d and 0.584 ± 0.092 lb/d. The intact ram and short scrotum rams are now similar in size (101.6 ± 16.2 and 101.4 lbs ± 9 lbs), while the wethers are almost 6 lbs. lighter at 95.9 ± 10.9 lbs.

Sex No. ADG -4th period 56 d ADG
Ram 19 0.726 ± 0.328 0.582 ± 0.104
Wether 24 0.846 ± 0.163 0.584  ± 0.092
Short scrotum 17 1.002 ± 0.178 0.645  ± 0.067
ALL 60 0.852 ± 0.252 0.601 ± 0.093


Thursday, June 21, 2018

4th Weighing

The lambs (n=60) were weighed for the 4th time since they arrived on April 26. Gains were similar to the previous two week period. From June 7 through June 21, lambs gained between 0.2 and 11. 2 lbs. and averaged 6.6 ± 2.4 lbs. in gain. One lamb lost weight (1.2 lbs). The median gain was 6.6 lbs.

Average daily gain (ADG) ranged from -0.086 to 0.800 lbs. per day and averaged 0.470 ± 0.173 lbs. The median ADG was 0.471 lbs. For the 4th weight period, the ram lambs (n=19) had the highest ADG: 0.533 ± 0.151 lbs. Their median ADG was 0.543 lbs. ADG ranged from 0.243 to 0.800 lbs. per day for the ram lambs. No ram lambs lost weight.

Pam Thomas records weights

The wethers (n=24) had the lowest ADG: 0.423 ± 0.146. Their median ADG was 0.436. ADG ranged from 0.014 to 0.586 lbs. for the wethers.  No wethers lost weight. The short scrotum lambs were intermediate in performance. Their ADG ranged from 0.143 to 0.729 lbs. and averaged 0.466 ± 0.214 lbs. Their median ADG was  0.500 lbs. One short scrotum lamb lost weight (1.2 lbs).

So far (56 days), gain has ranged from 17.0 to 40.2 lbs. and averaged 30.1 ± 5.3 lbs. The median gain is 30.6 lbs.  ADG has ranged from 0.304 to 0.718 lbs. per day and averaged 0.538 ± 0.094 lbs. The median ADG is 0.546 lbs. per day. No lamb has lost weight during the 56-day period.

The short scrotum rams have the highest ADG for the first 56 days:  0.556  ± 0.076. The wethers have the lowest ADG: 0.518  ± 0.102 lbs. per day. The ram lambs are intermediate at 0.546 ± 0.099.

It is not known if any of the performance differences observed between the ram, wether, and short-scrotum lambs, so far,  is statistically significant (different).

Sex No. ADG -4th period 56 d ADG
Ram 19 0.533 ± 0.151 0.546 ± 0.099
Wether 24 0.466 ± 0.214 0.518  ± 0.102
Short scrotum 17 0.423 ± 0.146 0.556  ± 0.076
ALL 60 0.470 ± 0.173 0.538 ± 0.094


After weighing, the lambs were moved back to the silvopasture (cool season perennial grasses). This pasture has been rested for approximately a month. In addition to the pasture, the  lambs have been consuming 2 lbs. per day of a balanced grain mixture (whole barley + soybean meal + minerals).  The grain will be increased by 0.5 lbs for a total intake of 2.5 lbs. per head per day (approximately 3 percent of the lamb's body weight; 87.4 lbs. average).


Depending upon weather, the field of dwarf pearl millet will be ready for grazing in another week or so. It will provide another clean pasture for grazing.

Going back to the silvopasture

None the lambs required deworming today. Most of the lambs had FAMACHA©  scores of 1 or 2. There were a few FAMACHA©  score 3's.


Sunday, June 17, 2018

Another Successful Twilight Tour & Tasting

The 4th Twilight Tour & Tasting was held Thursday, June 13, 4 to 8 p.m. at the Washington County Agricultural Education Center (in Boonsboro), with tours to the adjacent Western Maryland Research & Education Center (in Keedysville).

Image by Pam Thomas
Arik Mills, chef and co-owner of Rik's Cafe (in Hagerstown) was the featured chef. He prepared African Goat Meat over Jasmine rice, Roasted Lamb Rocket Salad, Lamb Sliders, Lamb Tacos, and Roasted Red Pepper (goat) Cheese Dip. All of the dishes were delicious. All of the meat and cheese that was used in the recipes was locally-sourced.

Exhibitors include Caprikon Farms, a goat dairy in Gapland, Maryland; Shepherds Manor Creamery, a sheep dairy in New Windsor, Maryland; Browsing Green Goats from Sunderland, Maryland, a farm that does goat yoga and leases goats for grazing; and Budding Creek Farm from Frederick, whose shepherdess teaches and hosts classes pertaining to fiber.

Joe Fiola, Viticulture Specialist from the University of Maryland was on hand to dispense wine samples and teach participants to match wine with food.  4-H educators, Ashley Travis and Chris Anderson introduced the new 4-H animal science research academy, whereby older 4-H youth will take an active role in university research, specifically this year's lamb project.

The tour part of the event included wagon tours of the Western Maryland Research & Education Center (WMREC), including a stop at the sheep research site, where our study is underway to compare ram, wether, and short-scrotum rams. The wagons were full and the lambs seemed to "enjoy" the limelight. The tours were led by Jeff Semler, Washington County Agricultural Extension Agent.

Loaded and ready for the tour (image by Pam Thomas)

The Twilight Tour & Tasting was funded in part by the American Lamb Board. It was the 4th year of the event. Plans are to repeat it next year. Attendance is always capped at 100. The event is attended by a unique mixture of sheep and goat producers, university employees, and the general public.

Editor's note:  Rik's Cafe frequently features lamb on its menu and sometimes goat. Goat cheese is also used in recipes. Follow Rik's Cafe on Facebook.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Third Weighing

Weight gains dropped off after the hay was depleted and the lambs began getting more of their intake from the fresh oat pasture. They are still consuming 2 lbs. per day of grain, split into two equal feedings. The grain is a balanced mix of whole barley, soybean meal, and minerals, 16 percent crude protein.

Rounding the lambs up for weighing

For the third weigh period, gain ranged from 0.8 to 10.8 lbs. for an average of 6.6 ± 2.0 lbs. and a median of 6.8 lbs. Looking at it another way, average daily gain (ADG) ranged from 0.057 to 0.771 lbs. per day and averaged 0.472 ± 0.145 lbs. per day. The median ADG was 0.486 lbs. 
 
No lamb lost weight during the past two weeks. One lamb was dewormed (with moxidectin; Cydectin @ 1 ml/11 lbs.) because it had a FAMACHA© score of 3 and failed to meet its gain objective (70% x 0.6 lbs. per day). The rest of the lambs had FAMACHA© scores of 1 or 2, mostly 1.

For the third weigh period, the ram lambs (n=19) gained an average of 0.469 ± 0.143 lbs. per day. Their median ADG was 0.486 lbs. per day. The wethers (n-24) gained an average of 0.457 ± 0.112 lbs. per day. Their median ADG was 0.464 lbs. per day. The short-scrotum lambs (n=17) had the highest, but most variable ADG: 0.496 ± 0.187 lbs. per day. Their median ADG was 0.514 lbs. per day.

For the first 35 days, ADG has ranged from 0.267 to 0.814 lbs. per day and averaged 0.560 ± 0.105 lbs. per day. The median ADG is 0.567 lbs. per day. No lamb has lost weight. So far, the ram lambs are gaining 0.551 ± 0.108 lbs. per day. The wethers have gained slightly less: 0.550 lbs. ± 0.119 per day. The short scrotum lambs have the highest 42-d ADG: 0.586  ± 0.081 lbs. per day. At this point, it is not known if any of these differences are statistically significant.

Sex No. ADG -3rd period 42 d ADG
Ram 19 0.469 ± 0.143 0.551 ± 0.108
Wether 24 0.457 ± 0.112 0.550 ± 0.119
Short scrotum 17 0.496 ± 0.187 0.586 ± 0.081
ALL 60 0.472 ± 0.145 0.560 ± 0.105


A five acre paddock of dwarf pearl millet was recently planted and has emerged. It will be available for grazing later in the summer.The project will end in mid-August, with the harvest of the lambs.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Second Weighing

The lambs were weighed for a second time today. For the past two weeks, they gained from 2 to 14 lbs. for an average of 8.4 ± 2.5 lbs. The median gain was 8 lbs. Stated another way, ADG ranged from 0.143 to 1.00 lbs. per day for an average of 0.599 ± 0.177 lbs. per day. The median ADG was 0.571. No lamb lost weight.


Nineteen ram lambs gained 0.608 ± 0.210 lbs. per day. Seventeen short-scrotum rams gained 0.661 ± 0.145 lbs. per day. Twenty-four wethers gained 0.549 ± 0.161 lbs. per day. FAMACHA© scores were mostly 1 or 2. There were a couple approaching 3.

For the first 28 days of the project, gained ranged from 9.4 to 16.8 lbs. and averaged 16.9 ± 3.9 lbs. The median gain was 16.8 lbs. ADG ranged from 0.336 to 0.993 lbs. per day and averaged 0.605 ± 0.141 lbs. per day. The median ADG was 0.600 lbs. per day. No lamb has lost weight.


For the first 28 days, ram lambs have gained 0.592 ± 0.146 lbs. per day. Short-scrotum rams have gained 0.631 ± 0.103 lbs.per day. Wethers have gained 0.597 ± 0.161 lbs. per day.

Sex No. ADG -2nd period 28-d ADG
Ram 19 0.608 ± 0.210 0.592 ± 0.146
Wether 25 0.549 ± 0.161 0.597 ± 0.161
Short scrotum 17 0.661 ± 0.145 0.631 ± 0.103
ALL 60 0.599 ± 0.177 0.605 ± 0.141


The lambs are currently grazing a five-acre paddock of spring oats. The dwarf pearl millet pasture (5 acres) was planted today. The lambs are also consuming 2 lbs. of grain per day. The grain is a balanced mixture of whole barley, soybean meal, and minerals. It is split into two equal feedings.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Twilight Tour & Tasting

The Twilight Tour & Tasting, to be held Wednesday, June 13, from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Washington County Agricultural Education Center (in Boonsboro, Maryland), will feature wagon tours of the sheep research program at WMREC. The event will showcase all products produced by small ruminants (sheep and goats):  meat, dairy, fiber, and vegetation control.


Arik Mills from Rik's Cafe in Hagerstown will be the featured chef. Participants will have the opportunity to sample dishes made from lamb and chevon (goat meat). They will be able to sample cheese made from sheep and goat milk. In addition, there will be a fiber demonstration and information presented about using small ruminants to control unwanted vegetation. The event will include a discussion of matching wines with meat and cheese.

Pre-registration is required by June 1. The cost is $10 per person. Children under the age of 10 will be admitted free. To register, go to https://2018twilighttourtasting.eventbrite.com.

Friday, May 11, 2018

First Weighing

The lambs were weighed for the first time today. Since arrival on April 26, the sixty lambs have gained an average of 8.5 ± 2.5 lbs. Gain ranged from 4.0 to 17.4 lbs. The median gain was 8.2 lbs.


Average daily gain (ADG) ranged from 0.286 to 1.2 lbs. per day and averaged 0.610 ± 0.177 lbs. per day. The median ADG was 0.586 lbs. per day. Upon arrival the lambs averaged, 57.3 ± 9.6 lbs. After two weeks, they average 65.8 ± 9.9 lbs.


The wether lambs (n=24) had the most variable, but highest rate of gain:  0.645 ± 0.207 lbs. per day.  The short-scrotum rams (n=17) gained 0.601 ± 0.149 lbs. per day, while the rams (n=19) gained 0.575 ± 0.161 lbs. per day.


The sixty lambs are currently consuming a diet of pasture, hay, and grain. The grain is a mixture of whole barley, soybean meal, and minerals. The lambs are currently consuming 0.75 lbs. per head twice per day. The hay is an alfalfa/grass mix. The pasture is a silvopasture of cool season perennials.

Sex No. Weight, lbs Gain, lbs ADG, lb/d
Ram 19 69.2 ± 12.3 8.0 ± 2.0 0.575 ± 0.161
Wether 25 64.0 ± 8.2 9.0 ± 2.9 0.645 ± 0.207
Short scrotum 17 64.6 ± 8.4 8.4 ± 2.1 0.601 ± 0.149

All lambs had FAMACHA© scores of 1-2. None required deworming or any health treatment.

5th Weighing

The lambs were weighed for the 5th time today. Gain was significantly higher, as compared to the previous two weigh periods.  The oat pastur...