By Breanna Pye, OCJ field reporter
The mission of Extension is to disseminate the vast and detailed research information generated from land grant universities, which has not changed in 150 years. The delivery of that information, however, has changed. A recent example of this change was the four-part WebEx lecture series that offered in depth coverage and insights on sheep and goat health issues via the Internet.
Ohio State University Extension, in conjunction with and the Ohio State University Sheep Team, teamed up with the Ohio Sheep Improvement Association (OSIA) to sponsor the new WebEx series that replaced the more traditional district programs. Instead of speakers traveling across counties to attend the district meetings, the new Web series consisted of a centralized “live” site in Knox County, with 13 other viewing locations positioned in various counties across the state and the chance for online users to listen in as well. A combined average of 200 producers attended each session of the series that finished up earlier this week.
This high tech venue offered significant advantages for a wide array of users, including Ohio’s Amish community, an increasingly important sheep producing population in the state. The Amish do not typically travel very far and one of the programs was hosted in the heart of Amish country at New Bedford Feed Mill, where approximately 20 Amish participated.
“There are several Amish populations across the state that are becoming very involved in sheep production and this type of programming is very important to educate them as well,” said Roger High, executive director of the OSIA. “We also had an agriculture class from Morehead State University (Kentucky) that participated each night in the WebEx series.”
High said the change was also economically beneficial.
“With the state of the economy, this is a more economical decision for us than having several people spending several days traveling around the state doing lectures at several different sites,” he said. “By making this change, we are now able to bring experts in from all over the state as well as from all over the country. Also, this way everyone at all the sites gets the same talk.”
As an example, Leo Timms, a professor of animal science from Iowa State University who was one of the featured speakers, was able to join in on the series without ever having to leave his office in Iowa. In the past, bringing in a speaker from out of state would have required airfare, hotel and other expenses. Making the switch to a web lecture series opens the doors to a whole new pool of speakers, all no further away than a computer and a web cam.
Participants could choose from several viewing sites staged around the state. A coordinator at each site was responsible for having the equipment set up for viewing each speaker. An individual or group could choose to attend all or part of the program, which covered a variety of health related topics. Out of state parties or individuals who were in remote locations were granted access from their own computers.
In the WebEx series, Bill Shulaw, a professor and veterinarian specializing in cattle and sheep at OSU, covered lambing and kidding management and newborn health issues. The main focus of Shulaw’s lecture was to inform producers how to maximize their herd production rate through the use of breeding soundness exams and vaccines ensuring animals are as healthy as possible when going into breeding season. Additionally, he covered the essentials needed for a successful lambing and kidding season including everything from necessary equipment to the amount of colostrum needed following birth.
Jeff McCutcheon and Rory Lewandowski, Extension specialists with OSU, addressed internal parasites, informing attendees on practices to properly identify, treat and prevent common parasite problems. They also covered different management practices and stressed that each producer must make a plan and use various tools to put together an integrated pest management and monitoring program that best suits their individual needs and facility limitations.
Timms, who specializes in lactation and reproductive physiology at Iowa State University, gave the third lecture in the series. He covered udder health and mastitis in his presentation. Timms gave an in depth review of mastitis detection, control, prevention and treatment.
The conclusion of the WebEx series addressed recognizing, treating and preventing major diseases in sheep and goats. This was presented by Eric Gordon, assistant professor in the department of veterinary preventative medicine at Ohio State University. Gordon first emphasized the importance of knowing the animals and being able to identify when they are acting normal or abnormal. He then went on to describe signs and symptoms of common diseases such as enterotoxemia, coccidiosis and pneumonia and methods of prevention and treatment.
The presentations were recorded on Camtasia and will be posted on www.sheep.osu.edu for those who were unable to attend or would like to review the material covered.
The sponsors hope to provide another WebEx series next year with a different focus, but still filling the same vital role of disseminating valuable information to sheep and goat producers around the state and, just maybe, around the world.