Milk Replacer

by: Dr. G.F. Kennedy

Six years ago we had enough of low quality milk replacer so we decided to custom formulate our own product. I am not a nutritionist but, relying on people who have expertise in the field we determined there were two critical aspects. First, it should be skim milk based, and second, we preferred acidification as well. Our product has enjoyed instant success and customer satisfaction. 12,000 lambs yearly can’t be wrong.

Now come the competitors with products that are cheaper priced. By leaving out the costly ingredients that are used for human consumption, you can lower the price on a twenty-five pound bag by three to four dollars. We have less margin than that so we chose to compete with quality and performance, not price. I refuse to sacrifice animal welfare for cost.

It is pretty simple. If you use skim milk at 1.44 versus dried whey concentrate at .62 per pound, it does make a difference. Dairy calves are started on higher cost ingredients and then the formula is cheapened up at two weeks. Calves are fed for eight weeks while sheep should be weaned at 30 days so time doesn’t permit changing the formula once started as they are fed full feed free choice.

I never back away from a fight when the welfare of animals is involved. Not only is it the right thing to do but a well-cared for healthy animal is the most profitable.

It all revolves around the difference in protein and lactose content. The majority of the protein content of skim milk powder is casein. Otherwise known as slow protein, casein is slowly released after ingestion. Whey protein is a fast protein which is quickly assimilated, the casein has been removed through the cheese making process. The feeding of whey can result in intestinal hemorrhage syndrome caused by rapid fermentation of lactose and high levels of gas production, abomasal bloat.


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Goat Dewormer Concentrate

by: Dr. G.F. Kennedy

We are often asked what we can worm dairy goats with and what is the withdrawal time in the milk. There is a product that can be used with no milk withdrawal time and it is a very effective wormer when used as directed. The product Goat Dewormer Concentrate, active ingredient, Morantel Tartrate, is fed at one tenth of a pound [0.10 LB] per 100 pounds of body weight in a single feeding. To ensure consumption within six to eight hrs, the normal ration can be removed eight hours prior to feeding.

Product may be fed monthly to break the cycle, with a 30 day slaughter withdrawal.

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by: Dr. G.F. Kennedy

SALT: Sometimes we over look one of the most important ingredients in the total ration and how we deliver it. For starters, blocks are worthless. It always should be provided in loose form and free choice. Salt should be offered free of manure contamination and moisture. Salt should be a basic ingredient in all rations and in grain rations should be added at 1%, 20 pounds per ton.

Salt is used as a key carrier to provide access to vitamins and trace elements including iodine and selenium. Mineral companies use it with flavoring agents to either control or influence consumption of minerals. The danger lies when the mineral contains phosphorus. Regardless of the ratio, it will increase the probability of urinary calculi in male animals. No animal consumes mineral based on need, but basically as the result of flavoring agents and salt content.

It may sound like a simple thing, but salt starved animals don’t do all that well.


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by: Dr. G.F. Kennedy

The leading case of death in baby lambs is starvation. This sounds bad and simple. In some respects it is simple and yet it can be very complicated particularly for people that are new in the business or people that haven’t learned good husbandry skills. To some it comes natural, to others it is difficult. My experience would say women are generally better than men.

Many of these lambs supposedly get laid on. A higher rate of this could be that they either died of starvation or were to weak to get out of the way.

As soon as a ewe lambs and is found and jugged up her teats need to be checked for soundness and presence of milk. Volume of milk may vary and with some ewes the milk comes later as they begin to nurse, but teats need to be open.

If milk is short or births are multiple; it may be necessary to tube with colostrum. Sometimes milk replacer is adequate just to get them started, particularly in cold conditions.

Every day, every lamb should be checked and if in doubt his abdomen should be handled for fullness and his mouth checked for warmth.

I prefer early action for lambs in trouble, tubing with our Lamb and Kid Quick Start and Milk Replacer which needs to be warm. This is much more effective and safer than injecting dextrose solutions.

I encountered a gentleman from the South that had several hundred sheep but the cold weather and low quality hay had been going on too long and he was loosing ewes and lambs from starvation. Normally they would have had pasture longer and the weather wouldn’t have been so severe. They needed corn and at least some alfalfa hay to turn things around. A ewe or nanny needs adequate nutrition to provide milk.

Severe cold may be not as cold on the thermometer in the south as in the north, but animals and people are not acclimated and cold is cold regardless of where it occurs. It requires more energy for animals to be comfortable and productive than it would take under normal conditions.

Forget about lick tubs, corn and soy bean meal are always cheaper.

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Cold Weather Lambing Tips

by: Dr. G.F. Kennedy

-Heat lamps can be a disaster and are not very effective.

-If water doesn’t freeze in the bucket it is warm enough.

-Ewes generate a lot of heat and sheared ewes create less humidity, ventilation is essential to remove ammonia gas generated by deep bedding and manure.

-Our lambing barn has no heat, is well insulated and we can lamb without problems up to -20 degrees.

-Immersing lambs in warm water is an effective way to reverse hypothermia in newborns, drying off afterward is essential.

-Tubing with high energy products such as QuickStart is safer than fluids subcutaneous or intraperitoneal.

-Tubing with colostrum, milk replacer and QuickStart is much more effective than attempts at bottle feeding.

-Shearing prior to lambing reduces humidity and encourages ewes to lamb inside.

-Shearing reduces ewes laying on lambs and makes the udder more available.

Under marginal conditions, drying off lambs and kids, and providing instant nutrition by tubing is essential as well as constant monitoring of lambing.

Last season we brought a three day old lamb back to life. We missed him, and we found him comatose and very cold, and unable to stand. We tubed him with warm milk replacer spiked with QuickStart. We also placed two hot water bottles by him and covered him with wool. The next day his mouth was warm and when I helped him up he stretched. I also gave gave the lamb a cc of Nuflor and a tenth of a cc of Dexamethasone and he is on his way.

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Retained Placenta

As soon as lambing and kidding starts I start getting calls about retained placenta and what to do.

If a female is still in the birth process be sure all the babies are delivered. On that last approach insert one 250mg Terramycin scour tablet. This is a good idea anytime you enter the uterus to assist birth.

Once beyond that point, if you notice the animal appears to be done lambing don’t enter the uterus but inject penicillin ten cc per 100 pounds of body weight subcutaneously along the rib cage. This only needs to be done once if animal feels good and is eating. Continue daily if appetite is poor and give five cc dexamethasone once.

Don’t pull or attempt to remove the placenta manually. It will be expelled in due time.

Terramycin scour tablets seem to be the most effective uterine boluses available.

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Cache Valley Virus

by: Dr. G.F. Kennedy

Every year, questions arise about aborted and malformed lambs. Cache Valley virus is defined as a mosquito-transmitted cause of infertility, abortions, still births and multiple congenital abnormalities in sheep. It is endemic in North America and often there are outbreaks over a wide area. Sheep grazing in swampy areas during breeding season are most susceptible. Attempts to control mosquitoes are indicated but difficult. At time of abortion or birth the virus is usually no longer viable. Generally, the incidence within a flock is low and I suspect once there has been exposure the ewe is resistant going forward. Occasionally lambs are so malformed that a cesarean is the only way than can be removed from the ewe.

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Timely Abortion Prevention

by: Dr. G.F. Kennedy

These are your options:

-CTC continuously at 300mg level or at 1000mg for five days every three weeks

-Two gram AS 700 one pound for five head for five days repeated every three weeks

-Rumensin 15mg per head per day or two pounds of 6% Deccox per 50 pounds of loose salt.

-Vaccinate for Vibrio

-Vaccinate for Chlamydia

-Don’t feed on the ground

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by: Dr. G.F. Kennedy

In other posts I have touched on respiratory conditions and drug use but have not went after it specifically. If you think OPP is a factor then review my articles on that subject, but it is not an economic factor in commercial sheep production. That being said let’s go to the heart of the situation. Early diagnosis and prolonged treatment are essential for successful treatment. Delayed diagnosis results in extended treatment and permanent lung damage. Discontinued treatment to soon results in re-occurrence and permanent lung damage as well.

What is my suggestion? Simultaneous injections of Nuflor and Draxxin subcutaneously immediately and repeat the Nuflor in 48 hours. Nuflor should be used at the rate of six cc per 100 pounds and Draxxin at one cc per 88 pounds of body weight. Give five cc of Biomycin per 100 pounds subcutaneously (may be substituted for Nuflor). Draxxin is expensive and may not always be necessary but has a different mode of action and lasts up to five days.

For coughing sheep, use sulfas in drinking water for three to five days may be helpful. Clinically sick animals need to be individually treated.

There is a Pasteurella bacterin available for vaccination, which I don’t believe to be effective. The intranasal cattle vaccine is ineffective in sheep.

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We get some calls on sudden deaths in pasture and often it is Nightshade. This is a weed that commonly grows in fence rows, waste areas, grain and hay fields. It can easily be killed with 2-4-D and new areas should be inspected before sheep or goats are allowed to graze. Probably every pasture has some, but if it is prevalent it can cause a problem. Treatment is not rewarding, prevention of consumption is the key to prevention.

Drying the weed as hay or waiting until after a freeze won’t reduce the toxicity; neither will fermenting it as silage.

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